Understanding Assessments & Evaluations

This resource provides information and tips for understanding Educational Assessments/Evaluations (sometimes called Psychoeducation Evaluations). These are provided at no cost by the school and administered by a trained professional, frequently the school psychologist. The goal is to assist in identifying a student’s intellectual abilities, learning strengths/weakness as well as any difficulties which may be interfering with the student’s ability to be successful academically, physically, emotionally, and socially.

Why Are These Important For Students With Tourette?
Federal law requires that students are provided a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) which meet a student’s individualized needs. Education assessments/evaluation provide important information regarding the individual needs and strengths of a student. This is then used to assist a student’s parents and educational team determine if the student is eligible for an Individual Education Program (IEP) or a 504 Plan and what services are necessary to meet the student’s needs.

Too often students with TS are incorrectly assumed to be ineligible for an assessments/evaluations and IEP/504 Plan if they are earning high grades. The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) and the federal education regulations clearly establish that determining whether a child meets IDEA’s definition of a child with a disability and therefore eligible for an Individualized Education Program (IEP), is not limited to only a child’s academic performance. Additionally, since 504 Plans are regulated by Section 504 of the civil rights law, American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA), determining if a student requires a 504 Plans are also not limited to academic achievement.

Common Areas of Concern to Be Included in Evaluations/Assessments
IDEA emphasizes that all suspected areas of concern must be evaluated. Students with Tourette frequently have co-occurring disorders and therefore several suspected areas of concern. These may include written language, reading, math, memory, sensory integration, attention deficits, organization difficulties, executive function skills, auditory and visual processing delays, and social interaction difficulties. Parent’s may request an evaluation, in writing, including all areas they suspected may be impacting their child’s education. TAA resources “Red Flags: Indicators of Education Difficulties” and “Tourette is More than Tics” can assist in determining areas of concern which need to be evaluated for a specific student.

Making Sense of the Report Prior to an IEP/504 Meeting

  • Request a copy of the evaluation report. Ask that all the subtests be included and a brief description regarding what each subtests specifically evaluates.
    • Highlight wording and phases which you don’t understand
    • Highlight specific strength or weakness.
    • Highlight recommendations you agree with as well as those you question are appropriate
    • Write any questions you may have as they may be forgotten during the actual meeting
    • Meet with Evaluator to discuss results and answer questions you may have
  • Reading the Report
    The beginning of the report can be important because it may provide clues to the Evaluator’s overall impressions of the student. Often these differ from teachers who have made assumptions regarding why the student is not being successful. As examples the beginning of the report may include words and phrases such as the following:

    • ‘Hard worker’; ‘pleasant’; ‘good effort’. These may help to change misperceptions that the student is lazy, attention seeking, oppositional
    •  ‘Fidgety’. May indicate unrecognized tics, ADD, Sensory issues
    • ‘Kept asking if answers were correct’ ‘Am I doing ok?’ May indicate that student has some obsessive-compulsive tendencies toward perfectionism
    • Distractible’, ‘easily frustration’, ‘gave up’ may be indicative of ADD, obsessive compulsive behaviors, perfection or the extremely important and common difficulty for students with Tourette, executive function deficits
  • Important Subtests
    While they use the subtests to determine the Full Scale IQ, it is the individual subtests that are indicators as to specific strengths and weakness for a student. Consider Chris, 12 year-old boy in 7th grade. His grades have been dropping from high to barely passing since the end of 5th grade. Because his parents and teachers, were unsure as to why he was struggling, they requested a full Education Evaluation. His Full Scale IQ was 100 which is considered average. Since he is earning low average grades in class, it appeared that this was in line with his ‘average IQ’ and therefore did not require and IEP or any services. However, on closer examination, there is a major difference in the subtest scores. On word identification and reading fluency, his Grade Equivalency (G.E.) is 10th grade, his age equivalency (A.E.) is 16 years and his score falls within the 96 percentiles (meaning he scored higher than 96% of other children his age in the U.S.) However, his reading comprehension Grade Equivalency (G.E) is 2nd grade, his Age Equivalency (A.E.) is 7 year and his percentile is 8% meaning that 92% of students his age scored higher. Therefore, subtests indicated that Chris reads on the 10th grade level but understanding is on the 2nd grade level. In reality, his ability to read words is superior but comprehension is significantly below average which would impact learning. The evaluations have assisted in discovering Chris’s difficulties which are negatively impacting his performance and ability to learn. He was provided an IEP with support from a reading specialist.
  • Compare evaluation/assessments scores with class grades
    It’s important that the scores be compared with the actual grades the student is receiving on assignments, test and quizzes in classes. If for example, math scores are superior but the student’s class grades are average, then something is getting in the way of learning.
  • Meet with Evaluator – Some things to consider:
    • Be prepared to begin by briefly discussing child’s strengths and then stating your concerns
    • Ask to have a discussion regarding subtests both high and low.
    •  Ask what specific supports would assist in areas of deficit and prepare him/her as they progress through school and into adulthood.
    • Discuss strengths and whether there is a need for advanced work to prevent boredom and provide an opportunity for an appropriate challenge.
    • Discuss the next step in receiving support in any areas which are below average or are seen as a ‘relative weakness’ compared to other scores. Prepare a bulleted list of questions
  • Bring Report to Meeting
    • Use post-it notes, highlights, or tabs that allow you to quickly and briefly bring up specific areas of concern
    • Bring a list of specific questions. This will need to be as brief as possible and presented in a manner than is not offensive and respects participants professionalism
    • If appropriate, develop a list of links for relevant TAA resources; make copies for everyone
  • Additional Resources: