Educational Psychology Assessment in Scotland
The Scottish Division of Educational Psychology,
Association of Scottish Principal Educational Psychologists,
A Joint Publication, April 2005
Assessment by an education psychologist is a process which involves the gathering of information from a variety of sources in a range of settings over a period of time. It necessarily involves parents, carers, teacher, children and young people. The purpose of educational psychology assessment is to inform future intervention. Its breadth encompasses cognitive, emotional and social factors. The ultimate aim of effective educational psychology assessment is usually to limit the effects of barriers to learning and to promote the inclusion of the child or young person.
Promoting Effective Learning and Development
All education assessment is an integral part of the teaching and learning process. Detailed assessment information is routinely and regularly collected for children and young people as they progress through the education system. The Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc. Act (2000) presumes a mainstream education for all children and young people. Within this legislation, assessment is regarded not as a means of identifying deficits; rather it attempts to identify ways of promoting effective learning and development. This emphasis is welcomed by educational psychologists and reflects the good practice already established within the profession, it is also recommended by the Currie Report (2002).
Legislation and Government Guidance
The Scottish Executive promotes the development and application of integrated frameworks of assessment across education, health and social work services (For Scotland’s Children, 2001). Within this framework, assessment is seen as a collaborative and stages process, involving parents or other carers, children and young people and other professionals. The aim of the assessment process is to achieve a single, shared and comprehensive view of the child or young person’s needs in education.
The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act (2004) gives parents the right to request a medical or psychologist assessment for their child. The child or young person and their family should be fill and active partners in this process. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the Children (Scotland) Act (1995) require that children and young people should be consulted about any matter affecting them, and should be helped to express a view on any actions or interventions proposed.
Features of Educational Psychology Assessment
Educational psychology assessment is a continuous process rather than a discrete activity. It involves considering information beyond the level of the individual, such
as the effects of events and circumstances in the surrounding environment. For example, as part of the assessment process, variables such as pupil group, teacher practices, school systems and family factors may be taken into consideration.
Throughout the process of educational psychology assessment, educational psychologists work with those adults who are directly involved with the child or young person in order to:
Gather good quality information about the child or young person in context
Analyse the information gathered
Analyse and test factors which may be contributing to the perceived difficulty
The education psychologist will usually be joining the assessment process after people directly involved with the child or young person have already gathered information and implemented a cycle of intervention and review.
An education psychologist’s contribution to the assessment process may be based on direct or indirect involvement with the child, or on a combination of both. If may be drawn from information gathered in consultation with a teacher, parent or other professional, or through a teacher using an agreed investigative framework. In order to supplement this, where necessary, it may also involve approaches including classroom observation, analysis of work, questionnaires, curriculum-based assessment, dynamic assessment, and measures of social-emotional factors using recognised assessment materials as appropriate.
The approaches used will depend on the questions to be answered and on the context within which the difficulties arise. The general process of assessment to which the educational psychologist contributes involves clarifying and establishing the roles of those involved, testing hypotheses and planning interventions based on the analysis of information gathered. The educational psychologist’s contribution is informed by evidence-based practice and subsequent evaluation of the outcomes.
Principles of Educational Psychology Assessment
There should always be a clear rationale for educational psychology assessment. It should inform future teaching and learning support measures to promote the general well being and progress in education of the children or young people concerned.
Assessment is based on an understanding of individual development and learning and of the context in which learning takes place. Assessment techniques ensure that school, home and community factors are considered in addition to individual factors.
Assessment is not separate from intervention. It is part of the ongoing cycle of planning, action and review carried out jointly with schools, parents, children or young people and other professionals. It should be as minimally intrusive as is consistent with achieving its purpose.
Assessment is carried out in collaboration with parents or other carers, and with other professionals. It recognises that the primary assessors are those who work most closely with the child or young person.
Assessment is based on the child or young person in contest and does not involve diagnosis of a medical condition. Information from educational psychology assessment may however contribution to a multi-agency assessment, which could result in a medical diagnosis.
Assessment techniques are based on an understanding of current methodologies and research and are informed by educational psychologists’ continuing professional development.
Assessment techniques are sensitive to the social and emotional development of young people, as well s their cultural and linguistic backgrounds and comply with the Disability Discrimination Act (1995)/ Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (2001).
Parental agreement for the involvement of an educational psychologist will always be sought, apart from in exceptional circumstances, or when a young person is able to give informed consent, or they themselves make an informed request for assessment.
Assessment includes the child or young person as a consenting participant. It will always seek and take in to account their views.
The results of assessment will be presented so that they are clear and accessible to those to whom they are presented. Such information will always be dealt with in compliance with data protection legislation.
Assessment is carried out in accordance with The BPS Code of Conduct, Ethical Principles and Guidelines (November 2004) and adheres to the Code of Good Practice for Psychological Testing) www.psychtesting.org.uk). Account must be taken of the reliability, validity and possible bias of any assessment materials used.