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How to Decide between a Neuropsychological or Academic Achievement Testing

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If your student is struggling in school and you feel like there may be some delay or disability to look for, there are lots of tests that you can request through the school or private companies.

Two of these types of tests are neuropsychological evaluation and academic achievement testing.

So, what is the difference between the two? Which testing should someone request? How or where can you get these tests done?

Neuropsychological Testing

This is a big word that means one looks at how a person’s cognition and behavior are related to the brain and the nervous system.

A neuropsychological test looks at how the brain is functioning. There are lots of mental functions that get tested during this type of evaluation.

Some of those functions include:

  • General intellect
  • Reading and comprehension
  • Language usage and understanding
  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Reasoning
  • Executive functions
  • Personality

A neuropsychological evaluation consists of both a paper test and an interview with a trained neuropsychologist.

Though there are a variety of tests, each variation is standardized and scored using the same standards. This means any person being assessed will answer the same test questions .

The score from the paper and pencil test is not the only factor considered for the evaluation. A neuropsychologist will interpret the collected data and write a detailed report looking at the brain’s functioning.

A neuropsychological evaluation may be requested in order to obtain a diagnosis, determine appropriate treatment, provide a baseline, or reveal areas of daily functioning.

Benefits of Neuropsychological Testing

One of the greatest benefits to neuropsychological testing is that you will then know what is going on.

There will no longer be any guessing about what is going on mentally or behaviorally. There is no more thinking something is just wrong with you or your students that nothing can be done about. Neuropsychological testing can bring peace of mind.

This can be especially true for students. As students get older, they become more aware of the differences between them and their peers and they typically become more self-conscious because of this.

Knowing the issue and then being able to get treatment or therapy or whatever may be needed to address the issue can help students cope with feelings of inadequacy.

Neuropsychological testing provides a clearer picture of what a student’s strengths and weaknesses are.

Once these have been discovered, a plan can be formed to help students use their strengths to their advantage and how to compensate for their weaknesses.

Academic Achievement Testing

Academic achievement testing is exactly what it sounds like. This test looks at the academic strengths and weaknesses of a student, and includes academic areas such as reading, math, and language skills.

These tests are used to compare students to the “norm” in order to identify if how they have been receiving instruction is optimal for that student.

An end-of-grade test is considered an academic achievement test. These are generally given to ensure that a student is prepared and ready to move on.

Academic achievement tests can also be a factor when determining if a student has a learning disability or is gifted. Generally, when trying to identify a student as having a learning disability, an intelligence or IQ test is given.

This is a type of academic achievement test. An IQ test will determine a general intelligence level, but there are other types of academic tests that will look at specific areas of knowledge.

These areas include reading, math, written expression, and language.

Typically, an academic achievement test will be looked at in conjunction with observations and potentially other testing before determining any disabilities or weaknesses that a student may have.

Since this type of testing just focuses on academics, teachers and other school staff will need to look at more aspects of a student’s education before deciding on a plan of action.

Benefits of Academic Achievement Tests

The main benefit of academic achievement tests is to be able to pinpoint areas of weakness. When these areas can be identified, then a teacher, parent, or specialist, knows exactly where they need to work with that student.

Not only is it beneficial in raising students’ areas of weakness but also building students’ confidence.

Along that same line, academic achievement tests can also help students who require more support than the mainstream classroom can provide.

These tests identify students who need accommodations in all subjects of school or in specific areas of need.

Academic achievement tests help determine how much funding a school receives as well.

Schools who traditionally score low on academic achievement tests may gain access to more funds and therefore resources in order to better provide for their students.

What to Do If You Think Your Student Needs Testing?

Many states and schools will have similar processes for testing if you choose to begin this process through the school.

Check with your local district to find the right person to contact to gain more information. It could be a Vice Principal, Learning Specialist, contact everyone possible until you get the right person.

Not all testing has to be done through the school. Parents can look for a psycho-educational testing at a private center. A neuropsychologist can administer a neuropsychological evaluation.

If you feel your student needs testing or other accommodations, another place to seek therapy and services is through an educational therapist.

EmpowerED provides educational services pre-kindergarten through college and beyond. We offer consultations, educational therapy services, academic testing, tutoring and workshops supporting other social/emotional and academic needs.

Check out our site to learn more about our specific services and see how we can help your student thrive.

Stay empowerED,

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