Before any type of instruction begins at the Centre, a student must be assessed to provide insight about why they are struggling. It is helpful to think about testing as falling into two major categories:
- Academic Assessments
- Psychological or Cognitive Assessments
Academic assessments provides an indication of a person’s level of academic functioning. They are normally administered by a reading specialist. Academic assessments can provide very valuable information to help diagnose the reasons a student may have difficulty with reading, writing, spelling or mathematics. They are absolutely vital to plan a customized or tailor made program to meet a student’s needs. If a student has not had testing, some type of academic assessment will be necessary before they begin any instruction at the Centre for Literacy.
Academic assessments are offered as a service at the Centre for Literacy. The assessments are conducted by specially trained/certified Centre for Literacy Staff or Consultants who work with the Centre.
Common standardized tests that assess academic achievement include but are not limited to: Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT) and the Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement (KTEA). Centre staff are also able to conduct the Test of Phonological Awareness (TOPA), a well regarded tool for determining risk for reading difficulties because of phonological processing issues.
A good psychological assessment can provide highly valued information about how a child learns. Psychological testing is conducted by Registered Psychologists or Provisional Psychologists who work under the supervision of a Registered Psychologists. They provide a great deal of information including a student’s intelligence score (IQ), and valuable information like working memory and processing speed. Often students who struggle at school are very intelligent but have poor working memory and processing speed.
Psychological testing may be conducted by psychologists who work for school districts. However, because of a high demand for these services, some students may wait a long time for this testing. Many families decide that they want to have this testing completed privately. The cost of testing may be covered by medical benefits programs. Tests conducted by private psychologists can be used by the school system to help identify any special needs a student may have. The private testing may also be used to formally identify (code) a student with special learning needs like learning disabilities. While it is not necessary to have psychological testing in order to receive support at the Centre, it can provide very valuable information and can be used to qualify for special services. It can also be useful information when applying for a Disability Tax Credit Certificate with the Government of Canada.
The Centre works with a network of Registered Psychologists who specialize in learning disabilities. We are happy to refer parents/adult students to psychologists who specialize in this area, and/or to arrange for psychological testing at the Centre offices.
Commonly performed psychological tests include Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children or the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS), the Standford-Binet, Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities and the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children.
Students who have had Previous Testing
Many Centre’s students have already been tested, reading specialists, psychologists or consultants on staff with a school district or by a private psychologist. They may have had a psychological assessment, an academic assessment or both.
If a student has already had assessments, there is likely no need to “re-test.” If testing reports are available and the parent (or adult student) wants to share these tests with the Centre, then they will be used. A Centre teacher will conduct a “mini-assessment” as part of the initial lessons with a student to gain an understanding of a student’s academic performance and need. Future planning will be based on a review of the existing testing and any mini-assessment which the teacher has conducted.