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The school has recommended a psycho-educational assessment. What steps do I need to take?

If your child is having difficulties with learning, the school may recommend a psycho-educational assessment. It is a good tool to help parents and educators understand how a child learns, so they can work together to help the child work to potential.

The assessment can show if a child has learning differences or developmental delays. Some signs in early grades are the child is falling behind in class and struggling with reading, writing, or math skills. Once a child is assessed and a report is written, then schools (or daycares, etc.) can use that information to develop ways to help the child. An example could be to give the child extra time or a separate room to complete tests.

It takes time to diagnose a learning challenge or disability, and usually requires a few visits. It includes testing, history taking, and observation by a psychologist.

Start with the school and ask if they have a school psychologist that would be able to do the psycho-educational assessment. These assessments can be done either by a school psychologist or a private community psychologist. If you are trying to decide which to use, here are some points to consider:

  • Waitlist: Often the waitlist to have this testing done through the school can be quite long. It depends on the resources available at your school and in your district. A private psychologist is usually the quickest option.
  • Cost: If the assessment is done through the school, it is free. A private assessment can cost a few thousand dollars. You can check your extended health insurance to see if it covers some of the cost. Sometimes there are community agencies (such as psychology training programs with a university) that can offer free or low-cost psycho-educational testing. But, there may be a waitlist.
  • Results: Your child’s test results from a school assessment will be part of their official education record. You have more control over who sees the results if you choose a private assessment. For example, families might choose to give a report to the school with only the information related to the child’s education. But, they may choose to show the whole report with personal details to their health care provider.

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