Clinical Psychologist Academic Testing
Academic testing can be conducted by psychologists to assess one’s academic abilities and can provide a plethora of information. Although there are different instruments to measure academic functioning, I have a high regard for the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement. The WJ Tests of Achievement is standardized and provides an extensive set of individually administered tests for measuring academic achievement.
The WJ has several tests that assess reading, mathematics, written and oral language and academic skills. Reading clusters evaluated include Broad Reading, Basic Reading Skills and Reading Comprehension abilities. Math clusters encompass Broad Math, Math Reasoning and Math Calculation, and Written Language clusters consist of Broad Written Language, Basic Writing Skills and Written Expression. Oral Language can also be assessed if indicated.
The WJ also assesses Academic Skills, Fluency and the Ability to Apply Academic Skills. Often discrepancies within these areas can help shed light into one’s academic functioning and performance. For example, an individual may have strong academic skills, but difficulty applying them or problems with fluency could be affecting academic performance.
There are many benefits of academic testing, including obtaining a full picture of one’s academic abilities, determining academic strengths and weaknesses, determining school or class placement, evaluating if a learning disability is present, or if one has superior academic abilities (and may not be stimulated in the classroom). Superior academic abilities often help determine giftedness as well. Academic testing can clearly help with future educational plans and opportunities as well.
Also, students with learning disabilities usually need individualized educational plans and/or academic accommodations in school (or on standardized tests) to function optimally, which testing can help determine. Some schools require academic testing for admissions requirements. In addition, a comprehensive measure of achievement is required in the battery to evaluate the need for accommodations on standardized tests, like the ACT or SAT. Schools sometimes administer achievement testing to rule out a learning problem.
If you think you or your child may benefit from academic testing, you should consult with a psychologist who is trained in psychological assessments and academic testing. Be sure to ask what testing instrument will be used. Although there are some selective academic tests out there, comprehensive academic assessments like the WJ have high reliability and validity and provide a wealth of information. A comprehensive measure of achievement is usually required by schools and program offices as well. If academic testing is conducted, you should obtain feedback about the testing results and receive a written report with the results and conclusions. A diagnosis will be given if warranted.