Arizona Literacy & Learning Center

Improving Literacy in Arizona Since 1987

(602) 212-1089


Knowing Your Child’s Assessment

Knowing Your Child’s Assessment

When reading a psycho-educational evaluation, whether conducted by the ALLC or another professional, parents will want to pay attention to a few key points:

Reading the report summary first is beneficial, because it can provide an overview of what the professional concluded based on all of the testing results. An individual’s strengths and weaknesses are included in the summary, in addition to the reasoning for whether or not accommodations or special services are warranted.
Typically, specialized services are suggested if an individual has a disparity between his or her intellectual ability (IQ) and achievement.

Intellectual ability or cognitive functioning is defined as an individual’s ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend ideas, use language and learn. Tasks used to measure cognitive ability can require an individual to use verbal or nonverbal responses, problem solving techniques, short and long term memory skills and processing speed.

Academic Achievement is defined as the level of success an individual has in an academic setting. Typically, academic achievement is a measure of reading, mathematics, written language, spelling, and general academic knowledge. This disparity can be measured in one of two ways, depending on the school an individual attends

Discrepancy Model: Some schools adhere to the discrepancy model. In order to qualify for special education services under this model, an individual’s achievement needs to be ‘significantly discrepant’ from his or her intellectual ability. School guidelines for determining a significant discrepancy vary but can involve standard deviations (a measure of how far below a student’s skill set falls, based on norms) or regression analysis (a mathematical equation used to determine what constitutes a significant weakness within a student’s own learning profile). In some cases, a student has to perform two grade levels below in order to demonstrate a discrepancy.

Response to Intervention (RTI) Model: A new way of determining whether or not an individual qualifies for special education services is known as the Response to Intervention model. A student qualifies for services under RTI if he or she is not making expected gains despite intensive, research-based and systematic instruction (in a three-tiered model) over an extended period of time. With RTI requirements, a student does not necessarily need to be two grade levels behind in a subject to receive intervention.

If a child does not qualify for special education services, but has a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities, including learning, that child may qualify for specialized accommodations in a regular classroom setting under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Generally, these accommodations can include additional time, reduction of course load, books on tape, study skills training, and reduction of reading assignments, among other things. (For a more complete list of possible 504 accommodations, please visit:

504 Accommodations allow changes to be made to coursework requirements in order to allow an individual to find success in the classroom, whereas an IEP allows for changing the expectations of what a student will need to achieve. For example, a student in the 5th grade may be given extended time and a reader for a test, but will still be required to learn the 5th grade subject material with accommodations, whereas a student with an IEP may be given less stringent subject material.

Reviewing the recommendations section is important in determining what can be done to capitalize on a child’s strengths, as well as address areas of weakness. Talking with your child’s new teachers each year helps to make sure they are familiar with your child’s IEP or 504 Accommodation Plan. This will ensure they implement recommendations and know your child’s learning style.

Body of Evaluation:
The body of the evaluation includes all of the testing results and definitions of pertinent tests. While this is typically more difficult to read and understand than the summary, it provides good information regarding which types of skills an individual struggles with or has success at, and makes the case for the findings listed in the summary.

Sharing the Results:
When sharing a psycho-educational evaluation with other professionals, such as a school, doctor, or another evaluator, it is important to bring both the results of the testing, as well as the psychometric summary, which includes the scores for all of the tests administered. This will allow the professional to understand how the evaluator came to his or her conclusions and to help enable them in providing the most appropriate aid.

Please call one of our local offices to request a new client intake packet.
Phoenix Office – 602-212-1089
Gilbert Office – 480-528-5793