Why does my child need a psycho-educational evaluation?

Why does my child need a psycho-educational evaluation?

 

By Danielle Cevallos, Special Education Director for Glenforest School

A psycho-educational evaluation is a  comprehensive evaluation done on your child that assesses their academic ability, performance levels, and behaviors. This can be a useful tool for  teachers, and administrators, as it provides them with important information regarding your child’s academic strengths and needs. If your child was diagnosed with a learning disability, ADHD, or any other IDEA category of disability, they may also be able to apply for accommodations on SAT/ACT testing, as well as for accommodations in college. However,  in order to apply for those types of accommodations,  students will need to have a recent psycho-educational evaluation (done within the last three years) that clearly outlines their diagnosis.  These evaluations can only be done by a licensed school psychologist. A Psycho-educational evaluation will be a useful tool for both you and school personnel to use in guiding your child’s academic plan.

If you are interested in having your child tested, you can go one of two routes:

1.  Public School Testing– you can write a letter to your zoned school’s psychologist, guidance counselor and or principal,  and request that your child be tested, if you need a person you can speak with Head of School, Chris Winkler as well. Let them know that you are looking for  current information on your child’s academic/behavioral abilities and performance levels. The cost of this is free, but you may have to wait a while before your child is actually tested based on the waiting list and procedures.

2.  Private Psychologists– while there is a cost involved in using a private psychologist, you will likely get a an extremely thorough report, and plenty of personal attention.  You will also probably have less of a wait time. If you are interested in pursuing this route, the cost will likely be between $1200-$3500, depending on the psychologist’s fees. I have included a list of local private psychologists that Glenforest knows and families have used.

 

Bill Sullivan-Lake Psychological / 803-699-8887 /North East Columbia

Lake Murray Behavioral and Counseling Center / 803-520-8298 /Lexington

Betsy Grier / (803) 935-5604 / North East Columbia

The Price Group / 803 252-5777 / Downtown Columbia

Although this is not a comprehensive list, and of course we can work with others should someone list to be included this is a short list of commonly used locations / services.  If there are questions or comments please do call or email us.

 

 

Children and the Internet

A recent website I discovered may be of great service to you regardless of your child’s age.  Time Warner Cable has done an outstanding job of providing a resource for navigating technology with your children.  The link Common Sense Media has multiple topics including cyberbullying, advice, research, frequency, movies, television and much more.

I’m hopeful this resource will be a tool for your family conversations.  Respectfully,

Balancing the instructive technology with reliability of student

I personally have found Frank Baker to be one of the best resources with a balanced perspective.  Frank recently published this post and I have to agree with him, if our students in the 21st century are going to be interacting daily with technology then the proper filters have to be intentionally put into place.  You can’t allow a child to feel that a computer is going to be the solution, but rather their skills pulling from the computer what is needed will provide information that has been properly formatted for their purposes.  Here is what Frank had to say:

With tablets, laptops, apps, and online games, there’s great promise in technology to inspire and excite students to learn with digital tools. It’s easy to find examples of kids using technology to learn all kinds of things, from learning how to program to using Wii to learn about physics, to learning Latin with an online game. But using technology in and of itself is not a silver bullet for motivating children to love learning and doesn’t guarantee they’ll use it for creative and innovative scholarship. A student’s initiative, self-efficacy and ability to set goals are essential.

Helping kids develop strategies like self-regulation will allow them to use their own initiative and to direct themselves — without adult supervision. A good self-regulator will pay attention to tasks, persist when it becomes difficult, demonstrate flexibility, and be confident that more effort will lead to positive outcomes. As educators move towards using digital media to teach, and we rely more on children’s independent initiative and motivation, it’s important to develop kids’ learning strategies so they stay on topic while they use these tools.

So how can parents and teachers help students develop these skills?

Read on:
http://mindshift.kqed.org/2012/02/as-digital-tools-abound-help-kids-self-regulate/

 – Frank W. Baker  www.frankwbaker.com

This being said now I’m confident that with the proper balance being taught at home, at school and in various secondary sources then the 21st student will do well.  But if the child has no direct learning strategies, then the computer would be a very dangerous tool that ultimately will be the guide instead of the resource.

GF Library Search Engine

Library Engine

In Mrs. Hoppock’s continued efforts to make more of the GF Library available to our students she has cataloged, with many volunteers helping, over 2,000 books online.  Her efforts make this link to search our library online possible for you right now.  Please check out a book when you are on campus and consider having your student read at least 1 new book a week?!  What would it be like if your child read 1 book in the month, or a few books this year?

Reading Instruction At Glenforest School

Glenforest has begun to revamp it’s reading program this school year.   We have added Fast Forword with Reading Assistant to the middle and high school curriculum, and have moved our elementary students to Reading Mastery (K-3) and Corrective Reading (4-5).  Both of those programs are based on the principals of direct instruction and incorporate all 5 of the Big Ideas in Beginning Reading.  They are widely used curriculum’s throughout the state, have a great research base and are both student and teacher friendly.  For some information about these programs, please see the links below:

Reading Mastery Research-Florida schools

Reading Mastery Research-Univ. of Oregon

If you would like further details, please contact Mrs. Cevallos, Special Education Director @ GFS.

A Student’s Perspective on Writing from ‘Reading Rockets

 “Understanding that each individual actually processes information differently is the key to understanding basic learning differences. Sherman stresses that learning differences are not disabilities. It is one’s learning environment that makes learning differences problematic.”  Below is the entire article found at: http://www.readingrockets.org/article/22746/  ( a personal suggestion is to subscribe to their weekly email as it’s free and full of great reading suggestions!)

Reading Rockets offers a wealth of reading strategies, lessons, and activities designed to help young children learn how to read and read better. Our reading resources assist parents, teachers, and other educators in helping struggling readers build fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills.

A Student’s Perspective on Writing

By: Regina G. Richards

Eli, a young boy, tells us what it is like to have dysgraphia. Regina Richards, a well-known expert on dysgraphia (and Eli’s mom), explains how to help children who struggle with the challenges Eli describes. Practical techniques discussed include POWER: Prepare, Organize, Write, Edit, Revise.

“Writing is definitely the worst task of all. It’s just way too hard to remember all the things I need, like periods and capital letters. Then, it’s almost impossible to think about how to spell words when I’m busy trying to think about the story. It’s so hard to remember what I’m writing about …. I figure it’s easier to write just a few sentences. That doesn’t hurt my hand so much either. My teachers complain, but I just keep writing very short stories. After all, teachers don’t understand what it’s like to struggle and struggle to write and still have the paper turn out sloppy and full of mistakes. They always tell me how messy my papers are. They just can’t understand how hard I try. No matter how carefully I work, the words don’t look the way they look for the other kids. Sometimes I know how I want the word to look, but it just doesn’t turn out that way.”1

Eli’s ongoing lament about the writing process highlights many of the key struggles of students: writing is so very hard, the process contains multiple components, and no one understands the struggles. The questions we, as parents and teachers, face as we try to assist students who struggle with writing, include:

  1. How can I help the student chunk the task into smaller, more manageable units?
  2. How can I help the student recall all the necessary components for the writing task?
  3. How can I provide authentic positive comments which reinforce what the child does appropriately, no matter how small the component?

Chunking the task into smaller, more manageable units

When presented with a writing task in school, Eli’s friend reminds him he has strengths to use to help him get through the assignment. “Sam leans over and to my surprise whispers, ‘Eli, I know you hate writing, but remember you have strengths too.’ Then I smile, take a deep breath, and think about my strategies. If I just take one step at a time, maybe I can manage this.”1

The plan here is to have a strategies list, and use this list to identify each step in the process of writing the assignment. One valuable strategy is to use the key word “POWER,” in which each letter stands for one step in the process.

P — prepare, list all your ideas
O — organize, assemble the ideas
W — write the draft
E — edit, looking for and correcting any errors
R — revise, write the final draft

In step 1, the “P” step, the students prepares all the ideas. It’s similar to a brainstorming process. A visual or graphic organizer is useful at this stage, especially since it may also be used in the next step. Visual organization strategies are effective because they provide a concrete alternative to traditional outlining. Organizers allow students to organize material in a visual pattern and enable them to see the relationships among the information. This facilitate students’ ability to represent connections more easily while promoting fluency, flexibility, and more originality.

In a simple graphic organizer, the student may have one larger circle for the main idea and three (or more) circles for supporting facts. Having this framework helps students focus on the main components of the writing assignment, highlighting one portion at a time. Many types of graphic organizers are available, and it is highly efficient to begin teaching these to students as soon as they begin the writing process. A few of the many valuable online references that include samples of a variety of graphic organizer types include: http://www.edHelper.com; http://www.smartdraw.com; http://www.inspirations.com; and http://www.imindmap.com. Some books that contain samples of graphic organizers are LEARN2, The Source For Learning and Memory Strategies3, and The Source For Reading Comprehension Strategies.4

In step 2, the “O” stage, students must organize the information, including sequencing the ideas and the flow. Many students who struggle with this aspect of writing find that having a graphic reminder of the components eases the way for them. It helps them visualize the entire process or concept, which is essential to knowing where an idea comes from and where it’s going. Two common graphics to help students remember the flow necessary for writing a paragraph or story are the dinosaur and a hamburger.

The dinosaur graphic represents the three main components of a paragraph, or story. The head represents the introduction, just as the head of the dinosaur leads him where he is going. The long neck represents the supporting details, as the dinosaur’s neck supports his head. The tail represents the conclusion, or the ending.

The hamburger also represents the three main components of a paragraph, or story. There is the top bun, or the introduction. There is filling, representing the internal or supporting information. The bottom bun represents the conclusion.

To help the student sequence the information within a passage, he uses his graphic organizer and decides what goes first, second, etc. It is important to stress to the student that effective writing is absolutely dependent on good organization skills. Generally, students who struggle to sort and organize language-based information will also struggle with clarity, conciseness, and effectiveness of written assignments. It is imperative that such students understand how to structure different tasks for different purposes. Concrete visual techniques are extremely helpful and include a wide range of strategies such as pre-writing worksheets, frames, visual organizers, mind maps, and clusters.

Recalling the necessary components for a writing task

This represents another major struggle for many students. As expressed by Eli, “Am I stupid? Does my brain just stop working sometimes? I think I know the words, but then when they’re all together on a page, they get jumbled. Mom keeps telling me I’m not stupid, but she’s just Mom. It’s so frustrating. I feel I can’t rely on or trust my brain”.1

One of the most successful strategies for struggling students is to use a visual organizer in the form of a frame. A frame presents the various components which are necessary and serves as a reminder to recall each step and to do the steps, one at a time.

Two examples of a basic frame follow. In the first one, the student first draws a picture for the beginning, the ending and then the middle of the story. After that, he writes about his beginning, middle, and end. In the Main Idea and Details Organizer, the student writes the main ideas in the big boxes on the left and then supports each with details.

Providing authentic positive comments to reinforce what the child does appropriately

There are so many components to the writing process that students who struggle easily become overloaded. Therefore, it is very important to highlight what the child has done appropriately, regardless of how small the component, or how many other parts remain inefficient.

Mel Levine refers to the processes of demystification5, a vital aspect of which is to identify and reinforce the strengths and beauty in each child and adolescent. In Eli’s story, being able to understand himself and his learning style is probably the key factor involved with his overall success, in spite of many learning challenges, all of which are lifelong issues. It is critical that we help such students learn to cope with their life as well as the daily activities in school.

Some examples of authentic positive comments about a small component are:

  • You have a great description of the beach in your story. I like the way you described the sounds and the wind.
  • You sequenced your ideas really well—the order is logical and easy to follow.

After your positive comments, then select one or two areas that need improvement and list those. There is no need to highlight everything that the child did wrong in his writing assignment. After all, he will be unable to fix everything at once. In contrast, if you provide only a few areas for improvement, then the child can work on those before moving on to others.

Conclusion

It is valuable to recall the words by Gordon Sherman, former president of the International Dyslexia Association, and assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School , who states that we all have different brains. Each person’s brain is different and processes information differently. This variation is called cerebrodiversity, and is the cause of learning differences. It may result in some students having difficulties in the classroom, because there is no such thing as an ideal, optimal brain. Understanding that each individual actually processes information differently is the key to understanding basic learning differences. Sherman stresses that learning differences are not disabilities. It is one’s learning environment that makes learning differences problematic.

Eli concludes in the Epilogue to his story,

“I know my thinking is different from other people. So many times, having a different thinking pattern gets me in trouble and it definitely causes me to have to work harder. Other times, being different is like having a gift. Working with machines is one of my many wonderful gifts ….”

“It is my hope that teachers, parents and other students will realize that everyone has his or her own set of strengths and weaknesses. It is indeed true that we have all kinds of minds and all kinds of talents”.1

To read more by Regina Richards, go to:

Endnotes

Richards, R. (2008). A Student’s Perspective on Writing. Exclusive to LD OnLine.

Related Topics:

© Copyright 2012 WETA Washington, D.C.

Reading Rockets is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.

Reading Rockets is a national multimedia project that offers research-based and best-practice information on teaching kids to read and helping those who struggle.