6 Steps for How to read an Ed Psych report (without getting overwhelmed)
Let’s face it, school psychology reports can be daunting. They are long. They are jargon-y, they often use a lot of scary statistick-y looking numbers, and they can make a big difference in big decisions being made for your student. After 20 years of wading through vastly different reports from around the world, we have come up with a formula for digesting all that information in the simplest and most effective way - for us! Next time a new report lands on your desk or in your inbox, don’t sweat - just grab a highlighter and follow these 6 steps.
STEP 1 Check date of evaluation - Should not be more than 3 years old to be valid, (but take it with a grain of salt)
A psychoeducational report is typically valid for only 3 years. If a child was quite young at the time, it can be shorter. If the report that falls into your lap is older than three years and is not accompanied by an update, you should note that the student has probably changed and grown substantially since that time and that the actual scores are no longer valid. The report can still offer you interesting information about a student’s history, but see this more as a historical document than a current evaluation.
STEP 2 Find the referral question - What was the author trying to learn?
A psychoeducational report should not be a fishing expedition. It should be more of a scientific investigation of a specific research question. Usually in the “Referral” section, the author will say what question they are trying to answer with this evaluation. Ideally, this question will be answered in the conclusion or summary of the report.
STEP 3 Check the instruments (tests) used - Were they up to date? What will be measured?
Psychoeducational tests are re-normed and republished every few years. If the psychologist has used an outdated test, the results will not be valid and the results will be skewed. If you are unsure if the test is the most recent version, just do a quick Google search. If an examiner used a WISC-4 for example, a quick search will show you that the WISC-5 was published several years ago. Also, check to see if the tests used appear to make sense. Take note of what the examiner decided to measure. This list can serve as a table of contents for information you will find.
Read the summary
When you are reading a novel, you would never skip and read the last chapter first, but this is our pro tip for ed psych reports. If you are not a school psychologist yourself, you do not need to take lots of time to understand all the details in the results section. It will help you process and digest all that jargon if you create a framework for your reading by starting with the summary giving yourself a preview of what to look for.
Go back and read the report, comparing scores to the text and recommendations
As a school counselor, principal, or learning support teacher, there may be multiple areas that are of importance to you. Go back to the beginning where the background information is and skim for what you most want to know. Then read the recommendations, and check to see if they are consistent with the findings. This is your most important job - carefully go through the recommendations to highlight what you are already doing, what you can do, and what you may not have the resources to do.
When in doubt, call the psychologist for any questions - they should be happy to help!
The psychologist should always leave behind contact information in case there is a need to make contact. They are usually very happy to hear from anyone trying to bring their work to life. Do not be shy about asking questions about anything that isn’t clear. It is in the best interest of the student for you to be confident that you understand the key points of the evaluation when making plans for their educational path.
Download some common tests here
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