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July 2001

news

Issue 5

Inside this Issue:

2 "Parents Guide to Understanding an Assessment Report�, by Meghana B.W.

3 "Utility of an Assessment Report for a Special Educator/Teacher", by Suzanne Ferreira

4 "Time - Quality v/s Quantity", exploring the

debate with help from Lata Dhir

Our team at Drishti: Smita Desai (Ph.D) Anand Desai (M.Sc) Meghana B.W. (M.A.-Clinical) Suzanne Ferreira (M.Ed-Sp.Ed) Devika Vohra (M.S.W.) Vrucha Pandya (B.Ed-Sp.Ed) Shweta Choksi (B.Ed-Sp.Ed) Suzanne Dias (B.Ed-Sp.Ed) Karen Fernandes (DSE-MR) Christina Trindade (DSE-MR) Tanaaz Mistry (DSE-MR) Vibha Sharma (M.A.-Clinical) Sweta Vaswani (M.A.-Clinical) Lalitha A. (B.A.)

206 Midas Chamber Andheri (W), Mumbai 400053 Phone: 022-6348732 Fax: 022-6348549 www.drishtionline.com

Dear Friends, We at Drishti have gained significant exposure in the area of PsychoEducational Testing and Assessment of children. Our new Testing and Assessment center, set up earlier this year is fully functional with a comprehensive battery of tests and other required resources and personnel. Psychologists here at Drishti and elsewhere painstakingly prepare assessment reports, which are then used by various persons, such as Parents, Teachers, Special Educators, Psychiatrists, Physicians, Pediatricians and other professionals to make important decisions about the child's future. It is thus extremely critical for all concerned to understand (as much as possible) the information provided in these documents. Thus we felt that if we could contribute from our experience and provide useful information about how these assessment reports may be interpreted, this might eventually benefit the child. In this issue we have chosen to address the Parent and the Teacher-Special Educator population, by providing insights into how they may best utilise the information provided in psycho-educational assessment reports. We also explore in this newsletter the issue of Quality Time, which in this age is a source of significant debate! We do hope you will find the contents of this newsletter of interest. As always, your comments and suggestions are most welcome and would go a long way in the evolution of this newsletter and to better our services to the community in general. I wish to thank all the contributors to this newsletter. Editor Anand Desai


Psychologists corner Parents Guide to understanding an Assessment Report By Meghana B.W. (Clinical Psychologist)

A Psycho-Educational Assessment report is an extremely important document. It might appear to some parents as being a complicated report, which is beyond their comprehension. This is certainly not the case. With this article we hope to convince parents that information provided in assessment reports can certainly be understood by them. This will eventually help them take critical decisions affecting their children's future.

Finally there are the Recommendations. Once a diagnosis is confirmed, it has to be followed by steps for modification/control of problem. The psychological assessment report is very comprehensive and informative in nature. These can typically take anywhere between 7-14 days to prepare after completion of the assessment. As you might have seen above, most (if not all) of the parental expectations are satisfied by a typical assessment report. Few important things to remember:

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The various test instruments measure a child's performance in relation to other children of same age, gender, nationality etc.

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Tests give raw scores, which are converted statistically into standard scores. Which are further converted to percentile ranks and/or quotients to give an overall idea about the child's ability.

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Understanding the scores is not difficult, if you carefully read the introduction given for the test.

What parents usually look for in a report: They look for a Diagnosis. If the diagnosis indicates a presence of the problem, then what can be done to tackle the difficulty (recommendations).

Making sense out of the Data - a simplistic view

Coping/Placement.

While the Interpretation section together with the Recommendations and Conclusions would most of the time provide adequate information to parents, let us look at a simplistic method of extracting meaning from the data/scores presented in the reports.

To know the weaknesses and ways of overcoming them.

In the data/scores presented, a parent could focus on the following terms:

To know the strengths and how best to utilise the strengths.

Percentile (%tile) scores: Indicates (in lay terms) the relative position of the child amongst his ageappropriate peer population in the tested area. This is one of the most important terms for a parent to try and understand. A child with a 50 %tile score is in the middle of his population with reference to his performance in that test area. Similarly a child with a 10 %tile score is in the bottom end of the population and one with 90 %tile is in the top end of his population with reference to his performance in that test area. Here it is very important to note what is being tested. Thus high %tile scores do not necessarily mean "good" and low %tile scores viceversa. It is strictly with reference to what is being tested. For example, 90 %tile (high) score in a test for hyperactivity means that the child is at the top end of the hyperactivity spectrum with reference to his population. And so on.

To know and understand the specific information given by the individual tests (I.Q. level, achievement, level of disturbance in different areas).

How can they help. If therapy is required, what kind. What a psychological assessment report offers: A report has different sections. The first section gives reasons for the child being sent/brought for testing (reason for referral). The second section gives background information of the child, something known well to the parent. The third section states the observations made by the examiner/psychologist about the child during testing. This is important because it provides a background to the child's state of mind while testing. Fourth is the listing of the tests/instruments used. Fifth, which is the results & analysis section, states the description of each test, the results obtained and the interpretation. This is followed by conclusions. This is a summary of the results from the individual tests. It also gives the Diagnosis, which is based on the overall performance, information.

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Age Equivalent (AE): Indicates the child's achievement level in terms of age. A child of 12.9 years was found to be achieving what a child of 10.7 years would achieve in the area of writing samples. That is, although he is 12.9 years old he is only able to perform at the level of a 10.7 year old. This is thus indicative of a weakness.

Views expressed in this newsletter belong to the individual authors.

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Difference (CA-AE): Indicates the difference between the child's chronological age (CA) and the age equivalent (AE). In the above case this is -2.2 years, meaning the child is more than two years behind his peers in this area. In other words, the Difference indicates the extent of weakness or strength of the child's performance in the tested areas. Level/Range: Indicates the extent of the problem. This could range from Normal to Profound. Likelihood/Incidence: Indicates the possibility or likelihood of existence of the problem in the child. Typically ranging from Unlikely to Very Likely. (Each report will have one or more of the above) We hope that the above information will help parents make more sense out of these important documents and help them make educated and informed decisions for their child.

Special Ed corner Utility of an Assessment Report for a Special Educator/Teacher By Suzanne Ferreira (Special Educator)

The purpose of a psycho-educational assessment is to collect and analyze information that will help in planning an educational program to improve a student's learning, mainly in the following areas: Understanding the Developmental history

readiness). For example, a poor score on a perceptual motor test translates into writing difficulties in academics. It gives information about the exact nature of errors made while reading, writing, spelling, e.g. errors in identifying sounds of letters, errors of word addition substitution, lack of knowledge of spelling rules and exceptions,improper sentence construction and syntax , lack of adequate vocabulary etc. Formulating instructional objectives The assessment information is also useful in developing the specific instructional objectives /goals of the IEP, depending on the profile of skill deficits generated by the various tests. Instructional methods and material to be used The Psycho-educational report helps in designing a special teaching program taking into consideration the diagnosis of the assessment. e.g. teaching methodology for a child with visual impairment, hearing impairment or learning disabilities will vary greatly as will the material. It aids in understanding an individual’s learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic etc) is very important. This help's a teacher know how to help a student learn and plan the instruction accordingly. As well as in understanding the areas of relative strengths and weaknesses of the child, Attention span and Distractibility level, child's motivation to learn, general attitude and feelings towards academics. Method of evaluation

It determines the existence of symptoms across other facets of a child's life.

Child's performance on timed and untimed tasks, Test-taking Skills, Test taking anxiety, etc. is useful information for the teacher/Special educator.

Profiles the learning problems of other family members indicate possible genetic traits.

Socio-emotional needs of the child

The Developmental History highlights significant physical, developmental, social, emotional or educational experiences or events that may have occurred in a child's life, which might contribute, to the problem e.g. delayed speech development. Identifying entry level of the child into the IEP The Psycho-educational report helps in determining whether a child's performance is comparable, below or above the average performance of children at his/her age level. e.g. tests like the Woodcock Johnson test battery provide scores indicating a child's performance as +or - (i.e. above age level performance or below age level performance) in the areas of reading/writing.

Information from tests to determine Social maturity, Social competence, Social development, Self-esteem, self confidence, etc. are very useful in determining the instructional needs of the child. To conclude, assessment can serve to tailor the learning experiences to suit the unique needs of particular students using the information gained in the assessment Assessment however does not stop when the specific intervention procedures begin. Assessment and instruction must be continuous and inter-linked.

It indicates level at which the student has mastered the skills in the areas being tested (Hoffieister, 1977). It also indicates whether the student has the minimal required knowledge and skills in the area being tested, i.e. pre-requisite skills for learning (learning

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Views expressed in this newsletter belong to the individual authors.

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of time they have "spare". Such a pity! However, a stark reality. A simple calculation starting with a 17 hour workday (coincidental reference to Mr. HR's assumption), and working backwards by taking all Time - Quality v/s Quantity the "necessary" time consuming tasks first, would Exploring a debate with help from Lata Dhir leave a career parent with anywhere between zero to 2 hours "spare" for the child. Lata reminds us that, During an opening presentation at one of Drishti's "the phrase Quality Time acknowledges that children Modern Parenting workshops, the head, HR of a very rarely see their parents these days, but tries to reputed host company attempted to instigate a compensate for this fact by calling the brief time they debate by asking the workshop leader as to how, in do spend together as Quality Time". So it does appear this age of technology and 17 hour workdays, can we that quantity although critical, is in limited supply. effectively discharge our parenting duties? Not an Do we hear Mr. HR chuckle? However, as Lata unreasonable question However, he then went on to argues, "a lot of the child's basic learning is derived suggest the use of e-mail and related technologies to from informal situations occurring in our daily family help nurture a meaningful relationship! That he left life." Quite clearly, joint, unstructured activity too is the gathering without bothering to wait for a reply quite important to a child's development. Also, let us saved all concerned, certain embarrassment. not forget that, children have their own pace of doing things. Quantity thus depends significantly on the Time, in general has unique needs of each child. become a function of our "The rationalization of the division of labour life-styles. The modern Digging into the theories of between homemaker and home provider should Indian urban lifestyle is psychology, Lata ruminates not be allowed to disguise the reality that there is fast changing the dynamics that, "the drastic reduction of no scale to measure (qualify or quantify) the time within our households. The parental time spent with one's devoted by parents towards their children." parent child relationship is own children in the home has most vulnerable to this transformation. created a host of emotional problems, one of which is the rapid increase in aggression and rebellion in Quality Time is a phrase that suitably encompasses children." Several psychotic behaviours among various facets of the debate in the title of this article. children have been attributed to parental neglect. "The phrase, "Quality Time" is relatively new to our Hail quantity! culture and its significance deserves explanation" feels Lata Dhir, a psychologist, management Now that we are firmly convinced about the need to consultant and a mother of two boys. Let us attempt desert the theories of Mr. HR, how may we ensure this task laid out for us by Lata. Time in itself and in positive value to this limited resource? As with other isolation is undoubtedly a physical concept. However processes, the answer probably lies in employing the it seems to have its own life, which we cannot right skills. Parenting is today a well-researched (barring the miracle of Relativity) control. Therein lie subject. One can evolve successful strategies and the difficulties. And therein lies the attempt at techniques to enhance the parent child relationship. qualifying it. In short, the value we attach to Time is Most career parents have, at some point, attended Quality Time. workshops on man-management related issues. A little bit of thought put into realigning the learnt "Quality cannot be a substitute for quantity," insists skills to the home environment can bring rich Lata. It is quite clear that the two must co-exist. rewards. However there must be Time (quantity), before we can qualify it (quality). Ok, so we have established the While Mr. HR stoops over his laptop, zipping e-mails precedence. Sorry Mr. HR, but it does appear that to his near and dear ones, we only wish he would pay your e-mail theory seems to be heading out of the heed to Lata's concluding remarks. Says Lata, "The window. rationalization of the division of labour between homemaker and home provider should not be Having thus agreed on the existence and order of the allowed to disguise the reality that there is no scale to two, quantity and quality, how may we now find a measure (qualify or quantify) the time devoted by "workable" equilibrium? For a lot of people, their parents towards their children." careers are the primary determinants of the amount

Parent corner

"My mother had a lot of difficulties raising me. But I think she enjoyed every bit of it." - Mark Twain

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Views expressed in this newsletter belong to the individual authors.

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Drishti-Newsletter-2001-July  

Psychological Assessment plays an invaluable role in being able to effectively serve the special needs individual. We dedicate this issue to...

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