Diagnostic Testing - Office of Work/Life

Diagnostic Testing
Spring 2013
Columbia University
Office of Work/Life
School and Child Care Search Service
Diagnostic Testing
Information on the different kind of assessment
Psychological Evaluation
A psychological evaluation is a set of assessment procedures administered by a licensed psychologist to
obtain information about a student's learning, behavior, or mental health. Evaluations can be conducted
to identify significant mental health concerns, determine your readiness for a surgical evaluation, help
develop instructional or behavior plans for your child, or determine eligibility for gifted programs, school
readiness, or special education.
Within the context of the school setting, families may request an evaluation for their child in order to
determine if the student requires, by law, additional supports or interventions in order to modify the
educational programming to meet their individual needs
This evaluation may include cognitive and academic assessments, Classroom Observation, Social History,
and measures of adaptive functioning. Cognitive assessments measure a student’s intellectual abilities.
It gives general information relative to other students the same age. The test shows how well he
problem solves, how he best interprets information (visual, auditory, etc.), and measures other areas
such as
Types of psychological tests
IQ tests
IQ tests purport to be measures of intelligence, while achievement tests are measures of the use and
level of development of use of the ability. IQ tests which contain a series of tasks typically divide the
tasks into verbal (relying on the use of language) and performance, or non-verbal (relying on eye–hand
types of tasks, or use of symbols or objects).
Ex. WAIS-IV, WISC-IV, Cattell Culture Fair III, Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities-III,
Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales V
Personality tests
Objective tests (Rating scale or self-report measure)
Objective tests have a restricted response format, such as allowing for true or false answers or rating
using an ordinal scale.
Ex. the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, Millon Clinical Multiaxial InventoryIII, Child Behavior Checklist, BASC-2, Conner’s Rating Scale and the Beck Depression Inventory.
Projective tests (Free response measures)
Projective tests allow for a freer type of response. An example of this would be the Rorschach test, in
which a person states what each of ten ink blots might be.
Ex. the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), the House-Tree-Person Test, the Animal Metaphor
Test, the Roberts Apperception Test, and the Attachment Projective.
Both "rating scale" and "free response" measures are used in contemporary clinical practice, with a
trend toward the former.
Direct observation tests
Although most psychological tests are "rating scale" or "free response" measures, psychological
assessment may also involve the observation of people as they complete activities. This type of
assessment is usually conducted with families in a laboratory, home or with children in a classroom
Educational/Academic Assessment
This is an assessment that compares a student’s academic functioning with other students of the same
age. The test usually focuses on Reading, Writing, Math, and Oral Language. It looks at several areas
within each major area. For example, in reading there will be a subtest measuring comprehension,
recognizing site words, and speed of reading. This test focuses on broad skills that a student should
know, rather than testing exactly what is taught in class. Assessment of achievement is an important
part of assessment to rule out/diagnose learning disabilities and mental retardation.
Academic achievement tests: (e.g. WIAT, WRAT, Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement-III)
Psycho/educational assessment
When the psychological and educational testing are included in an overall assessment of a person it is
called a psycho/educational assessment.
Neuropsychological Evaluation
This evaluation consists of specifically designed tasks used to measure a psychological function known to
be linked to a particular brain structure or pathway. Neuropsychological tests can be used in a clinical
context to assess impairment after an injury or illness known to affect neurocognitive functioning. When
used in research, these tests can be used to contrast neuropsychological abilities across experimental
Areas of assessment:
• Intellectual Functioning • Academic Achievement • Social/Emotional/Behavioral • Language
Functioning • Attention/Concentration • Executive Functioning • Sensorimotor Functioning • Visual
Spatial/Visual Motor/Visual Perception • Learning and Memory
Example of tests
Developmental Nueropsychological Assessment – Second Editon (NEPSY-II)
Wide Range Assessment of Memory and Learning, Second Edition (WRAML-2)
Delis–Kaplan Executive Function System ( D-KEFS )
Dean-Woodcock Neuropsychological Battery,
Infant and Preschool Assessment
Due to the fact that infants and preschool aged children have limited capacities of communication,
psychologists are unable to use traditional tests to assess them. Therefore, many tests have been
designed just for children ages birth to around six years of age. These tests usually vary with age
respectively from assessments of reflexes and developmental milestones, to sensory and motor skills,
language skills, and simple cognitive skills.
Common tests for this age group are split into categories:
 Infant Ability
Common infant ability tests include: Gesell Developmental Schedules (GDS) which measures the
developmental progress of infants, Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS) which tests newborn
behavior, reflexes, and responses, Ordinal Scales of Psychological Development (OSPD) which assesses
infant intellectual abilities, and Bayley-III which tests mental ability and motor skills.
 Preschool Intelligence
Common preschool intelligence tests include: McCarthy Scales of Children’s Abilities (MCAS) which is
similar to an infant IQ test, Differential Ability Scales (DAS) which can be used to test for learning
disability, Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence-III (WPPSI-III) and Stanford-Binet
Intelligence Scales for Early Childhood which could be seen as infant versions of IQ tests, and Fagan Test
of Infant Intelligence (FTII) which tests recognition memory.
 School Readiness
Finally, some common school readiness tests are: Developmental Indicators for the Assessment of
Learning-III (DIAL-III) which assesses motor, cognitive, and language skills, Denver II which tests motor,
social, and language skills, and Home Observation for Measurement of Environment (HOME) which is a
measure of the extent to which a child’s home environment facilitates school readiness.
Infant and preschool assessments, since they do not predict later childhood nor adult abilities, are
mainly useful for testing if a child is experiencing developmental delay or disabilities. They are also
useful for testing individual intelligence and ability, and, as aforementioned, there are some specifically
designed to test school readiness and determine which children may struggle more in school.