Demystifying Diagnostic Evaluation/Testing – Five Things You Need to Know

Mon. 12/16/2019

Is your child is struggling in school? Diagnostic testing can help you find answers. Here are 5 things you need to know.

What is diagnostic testing?

Diagnostic testing is the administration and interpretation of psycho-educational and psychological batteries to determine a student’s academic and cognitive abilities.  A thorough diagnostic evaluation can determine if a child has a learning difference (disability) or other difficulties that affect academic success.

When should a child be tested?

A child can have formal testing as early as age 5 or 6 if there are early indicators of a learning difference. These indicators can be shared with you by your child’s Pre-K or Kindergarten teacher or you may notice things that are difficult for your child in school or at home. If you have any concerns about your child not meeting development milestones, speak with your pediatrician about what is age-appropriate and when additional testing may be warranted.

If your child is in school, here are some indicators that testing may be appropriate:

  • Difficulty with reading and spelling
  • Difficulty understanding what is read
  • Difficulty learning and doing math
  • Difficulty with written language
  • Difficulty with organization
  • Difficulty staying on task, following directions
  • Low self-esteem
  • Immature with peers and adults

If you, your child’s teacher, or your pediatrician feel that there are concerns, pursuing testing either through the school system or through a private provider can provide answers.

What does testing involve?

A thorough diagnostic evaluation considers the following:

  • A child’s record review and school history
  • Family history
  • Feedback from the child’s parents, teachers, and other adults who work with the child
  • School observation
  • Other contacts – therapists, teachers, other adults
  • Testing sessions

Testing sessions are tailored to the concerns about that child.  The batteries assess: intellectual/cognitive functioning, processing (memory, work speed), academic achievement (reading, math, written language), phonological processing (phonemic awareness and rapid naming skills), oral language knowledge and comprehension, and more. If additional concerns are present, testing for attention, anxiety, and/or executive functioning may also be completed.

Testing Results

A comprehensive diagnostic assessment yields a report which contains a diagnosis (if there is one), the scores and results from the assessments administered, their results, and recommendations and suggestions for classroom and home accommodations and supports.  The evaluation yields recommendations relevant for educational planning and may assist with decisions regarding identification and perhaps school placement. Armed with this information, parents and professionals can identify the roadmap for moving forward, gearing interventions and accommodations toward the child’s needs and learning profile.

How often should testing occur?

Comprehensive testing should be re-administered on average every three years to assess the child’s progress and to see if new or different accommodations or supports make sense for the child. Interim testing, such as 30-minute benchmark assessments three times per year, is helpful to make sure the child is progressing and that the educational program put into place is working well.

For more information about diagnostic testing contact the Summit Resource Center. Summit Resource Center professionals offer comprehensive diagnostic testing and benchmark assessments, and are also available to interpret results of testing conducted by other clinicians.  For more information on testing and our other services, please contact Summit Resource Center at 410-798-0005.

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About The Summit School – The Summit School was founded to serve children, grades 1-8, with dyslexia and other learning differences. The Summit School has an incredible record of helping children become successful learners. The core of Summit’s program incorporates: highly trained teachers, evidence-based instruction, hands-on, multi-sensory learning environments and small class sizes. For more information about The Summit School or services offered through the Summit Resource Center please visit www.thesummitschool.org.


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