A full evaluation consists of both formal and informal assessments, and the degree to which test instruments are chosen is based on the questions generated during the referral process. This is typically begun during the initial free consultation with the parent.
Formal assessments, generally called standardized tests, are used to derive data that have been norm-referenced and can provide standard scores and percentile ranks. These tests compare the examinee to a national sample of same-aged peers and then rank them on the normal probability curve. Examples include:
- Cognitive assessments (formerly called IQ tests) provide information on how the brain processes information, including short-term memory, long-term memory, processing speed, crystallized knowledge, fluid reasoning, auditory processing, or visual-spatial processing.
- Achievement assessments provide information on strengths and weaknesses in the student’s academic abilities, such as reading, math, and written communication. Extensive error analyses are conducted on achievement testing results.
Informal assessments include such things as checklists, interviews, observations, and reports from teachers and parents that help develop a wider picture of the student.