Educational assessments measure a child’s academic ability level in a range of areas including oral language, basic reading, reading comprehension and fluency, written expression, mathematics and maths fluency. An objective measurement tool is used to assist in identifying particular areas of academic strengths and weaknesses. Results acquired through the assessment process provide an indicator of a child’s skill in a particular academic area, compared to a normative age- or grade-matched sample.
Educational assessments with children are often considered necessary following cognitive assessments to determine whether a child is gifted in a learning area or may have a learning difficulty or disability. For instance, a child with below average academic achievement which is also significantly below what would be expected given their cognitive capability, may have a specific learning disability in a particular area. An educational assessment, combined with the results of other tests, can provide information to assist parents and teachers to better understand a child’s academic strengths and weaknesses and inform effective individualised learning plans.
Educational assessments with children require the administration of standardised psychometric tools by experienced and accredited psychologists. These tools can assess various areas of academic skill for example:
- Reading: the ability to read words such as identifying letters or sounds, reading comprehension or phonetic awareness.
- Mathematics: the ability to answer arithmetic equations, solve mathematical problems, and complete maths equations in a given time period.
- Writing: the ability to spell and use written expression including sentence structure and idea formation.
- Oral Language: the ability to listen for details, reflect meaning and express oneself.
Educational assessment tools are useful in the following areas:
- Identifying the level of academic skill in a particular area: assessments can assist parents, teachers and children to better understand how their academic performance in the classroom setting affects their learning. The results can also help guide a teacher’s decision to provide extension activities or acceleration in particular subjects.
- Diagnosing specific learning disorders such as a reading or writing disability: assessments can provide evidence for special provisions such as a scribe in formal school examination settings. It can also help identify which learning skills can be developed based on the individual’s abilities and strengths while providing strategies to compensate for areas of difficulty.
- Assisting teachers and school counsellors to provide Individualised Education Plans (IEPs): assessments can help inform teachers in meeting children’s specific learning needs during curriculum planning, special educational placements or clinical appraisals for children.
We commonly use the following educational assessment tool for a variety of purposes and age groups:
- Wechsler Individual Achievement Test – Second Edition (WIAT-III, Australian Standard) for children who are aged 4 to 19 years, 11 months. This is commonly conducted in conjunction with the WISC-V for a comprehensive academic and cognitive assessment.
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