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Why is Educational Assessment Important?

School is a crucial part of every child’s life. It is where children acquire knowledge, practice social skills, find friends, grow and develop. Social, academic, and extra-curricular experiences at school influence a child’s identity. Sometimes children struggle at school. The educational journey stops being as smooth sailing as the parents or teachers may have imagined. The academic, behavioral, or emotional struggles at school usually follow them home and cause the child to be less enthusiastic about school. Sometimes, a child who makes too many mistakes in math or writing is seen as “careless”, or a child who gets irritable, sad, or distracted at the mention of school work is called “lazy”, or a child who fails to achieve academically as compared to peers is seen as “dumb”. There is always more to a child’s story than unhelpful labels. Any child will thrive and grow to their full potential if they receive the right conditions to learn and appropriate teaching methods.

A psychoeducational assessment is the work done by a psychologist to figure out what is not working for a particular child. Some children learn differently from others. Conventional classroom instructions may not be adequate for some children. For example, some children learn better when information is presented visually. Some children may feel different, lonely, or excluded. Sometimes children struggle with relationships at school, find themselves unable to grasp instructions, or are unable to finish work on time like other students. Sometimes children dislike school because they are intellectually gifted and find lessons not challenging enough. Children may not know how to help themselves and start losing motivation and interest in school.

Psychoeducational assessment begins with collecting information about the child from parents and teachers. It involves collecting their developmental, medical, academic, social-emotional, behavioral history and school records. This information will help the psychologist to understand what kind of neurodevelopmental differences, learning disabilities, or mental health distress the child may have. The psychologist observes the child in their classroom and play settings to know more about them. A significant portion of educational assessment is standardized testing which may involve intelligence tests, achievement tests, scales of social, behavioral, and adaptive functioning, and other tests depending on the unique needs of the child. After collecting all the data, a comprehensive report is written which includes what is learned about the child through the interviews, observations, and testing. It focuses on the strengths of the child and identifies the areas where some support may help the child. The report may also have recommendations for schools and parents based on the best-known ways to support the child’s needs. If necessary, suggestions are made for referrals to interventions like speech therapy, ABA therapy, or other mental health professionals. When done the right way, a psychoeducational report can empower the parents and children to feel accepted by people who understand their needs and receive education in a way most suitable to them.

Early identification and adequate remediation of the challenges faced by a child are always recommended. It allows the children to get a quality education and equal opportunities as their peers. Unidentified difficulties can impede a child’s educational development and affect them emotionally. Research has shown that children with learning disabilities struggle with low self-esteem and have higher levels of emotional concerns such as depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Educational accommodations and interventions can alleviate the stress, frustration, and alienation associated with learning disabilities or neurodevelopmental disorders in school-going children. An assessment can be a good start towards better environmental conditions for learning and more targeted teaching for a child. In the long term, this allows them to advocate for themselves, be happier, more independent, and fully reach their potential.

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