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What is "Testing", Anyway?

September 29, 2017

Testing: What the Heck Does That Even Mean?

A very common question we hear in the field of psychology is, "What does it mean to have my child 'tested'?" 

Here is the quick and easy breakdown:

Autism Testing (2)
  • "Testing", or a "Psychoeducational Assessment" as it's properly called, is an assortment of formal and informal assessments compiled into one report known as a "Psychoeducational Report", or a "Psych Report" for short.
  • It's usually only conducted in schools for determining eligibility for special education or to gather unknown data while reevaluating a child who is already served under special education.
  • Consists of two major parts, Cognitive and Educational, and is sometimes supplemented by smaller, more specific assessments.

The Two Main Components

  1. Cognitive Testing is essentially an IQ test (a real IQ test, not the variety on Google or in a magazine) which indicates a child's level of cognitive proficiency, usually compared to peers. This is represented by a type of score called a Standard Score, with the help of a Percentile Rank.
  2. Educational Testing examines fundamental academic skills commonly utilized in a school setting, including Reading, Writing and yes, everyone's favorite, Math.  This type of testing generally utilizes the same score types as the aforementioned cognitive measures.

Supplementary Assessments

  • Specialized Behavior-Rating Scales (for attention, anxiety, adaptive functioning, autism symptomatology, etc.)
  • Visual-Motor Assessments
  • Various Checklists/Observation Tools
  • Specialized Assessments (ex: the ADOS-2 for autism)

"Testing" is not guaranteed and is determined to take place by a team of educational professionals and the parents/caretakers, collectively known as an IEP team.


I'd like to mention that all of the blogs I write are based on my own personal experiences and opinions and do not reflect the opinion of any school system or professional organization. It is also important to realize that I am not an attorney and this does not constitute any sort of legal advice. For legal questions, seek a reputable lawyer specializing in educational law. For medical questions, seek a reputable mental health professional.

Rich Brancaccio

Written by Rich Brancaccio

Rich spent much of his career working as a school psychologist specializing in autism spectrum disorders, serving on several school district autism evaluation teams. Rich is truly passionate about helping children with various difficulties overcome obstacles to attain success. He has personally evaluated hundreds of children with various developmental needs, and provided consultation and insight for over one thousand cases.

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