Education Law That Changes Lives

Find Out Why Your Child Is Struggling In School

If you are concerned about your child’s learning style, academic progress, social skills or even their behavior, a comprehensive assessment will identify the nature of the problem, as well as provide guidance for developing a plan. At Windsor Law LLC, we can help you secure an assessment from a professional in Florida.

Obtaining The Information To Help Your Child

If your child has a disability, as a parent, you will need objective information about their strengths, weaknesses and specific needs before decisions can be made about an appropriate educational program – possibly an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), §504 Plan, etc.

For comprehensive information about tests, how tests measure skills and what the scores mean, you will find many of your answers in “Wrightslaw: All about Tests and Assessments.”

Figuring out why a student is struggling in school is a bit like solving a case. You and/or the school may use a variety of testing and assessments to figure out what is at the root of the child’s problem.

Windsor Law LLC can guide you to the appropriate basic testing necessary to help determine why a student may be struggling in school. To better serve you and your child, we can conduct a thorough educational records review to determine why a student may be having trouble, as well as use the educational records and testings results to guide us in developing particular learning and testing strategies to help the student reach their full academic potential.

The Types Of Testing That May Help Your Student

Following is a basic list of the kinds of testing available for your student and a summary of what this testing may indicate. We do not offer these tests in our office; however, we can give you a list of resources where you might have the tests administered.

School Testing Or Evaluations
Schools evaluate to:

  • Identify children who are experiencing delays or learning problems.
  • Determine if a child has a disability and is eligible for special education services.
  • Identify a child’s needs for special education services.
  • Gather functional, developmental and academic information about a child.
  • Gather data about a child’s present levels of academic achievement, functional performance and educational needs that will be used to develop an appropriate Individualized Education Program (IEP).
  • Provide information to help teachers and related service personnel provide appropriate instruction, services and accommodations.
  • Monitor a child’s progress in a special education program.

Intellectual Evaluations And IQ Testing
IQ testing may reveal:

  • Developmental and intellectual disabilities – intellectual, physical or both
  • Verbal reasoning and vocabulary – thinking with words
  • Fluid reasoning – using language to solve unfamiliar problems
  • Visual-spatial and visual-motor skills – thinking with pictures, designs and hands
  • Short-term and working memory – capturing input for temporary storage and manipulating content
  • Long-term memory storage and retrieval – recalling factual information and retrieving it from memory
  • Processing speed – making small decisions quickly with a pencil in hand

Academic Achievement Assessments
Academic Achievement Test may measure:

  • Assessment of reading – reading comprehension, listening comprehension, phonological awareness, rapid naming, vocabulary, fluency, word identification, word attack, spelling and alphabet
  • Assessment of mathematics – math reasoning, math computation and math fluency
  • Assessment of written language – alphabet, spelling, punctuation and mechanics, writing sentences and writing paragraphs, stories and essays

Speech And Language Evaluations
A Speech And Language Evaluation may measure:

  • Speech and language skills – listening, semantics, nonliteral and abstract language, and speech articulation
  • Receptive language – vocabulary, grammar and syntax, ability to follow directions, and listening
  • Expressive language – difficulty expressing oneself to others, difficulty putting words together in sentences, difficulty finding words and organizing thoughts, difficulty with classroom conversations or discussions, or difficulty with writing

Evaluations For Learning Disabilities And Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

The only way to know if your child has a learning disability is to get a comprehensive psycho-educational evaluation (see Psycho-Educational Evaluations at the end of this page). An evaluation for a specific learning disability should assess your child’s intellectual ability and academic skills and should include:

  • Background and family history
  • Interview with parents, teachers and the child, if appropriate
  • Intelligence (IQ) testing
  • Academic achievement testing
  • Additional testing, depending on the child’s presenting problem and test findings
  • Classroom observations

Hearing, Vision Or Motor Skills Assessments
An evaluation for hearing, vision or motor impairment in your child should include:

  • Hearing impairment – hearing loss that affects educational performance.
    This can range from mild to profound.
  • Vision impairment – near vision, distance vision and peripheral vision

Vision impairment is categorized into three groups:

  • The child’s vision is not useful in the test situation.
  • The child can use vision to manage large objects but cannot use vision to read, even with large print.
  • The child can use vision to read only if print is large, or with a magnifier or other aid.

Motor impairment – a child may have motor skills deficits from a birth defect, developmental disability, illness or injury. Motor impairment may be assessed in a number of ways, including:

  • reflexes, coordination and balance
  • gait (how he/she walks)
  • need for specialized equipment (wheelchair, walker and assistive device)
  • need for occupational therapy such as handwriting and keyboarding skills, fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, visual perceptual skills, organizational skills or sensory processing
  • need for assistive technology for written expression, environmental control or augmentative communication

Auditory, Visual, Visual-Motor And Sensory Processing Assessments
Sometimes children can have a processing disorder that is not related to intelligence.

  • If a child has an Auditory Processing Disorder – he is likely to have trouble distinguishing sounds and understanding language, even though he has normal hearing.
    • Auditory figure-ground, auditory memory, auditory discrimination, auditory attention and auditory cohesion should be tested.
  • If a child has a Visual Processing Disorder – he may struggle to see the difference between similar letters, shapes or objects.
    • Visual discrimination, visual short-term memory, visual sequential, visual figure-ground, visual-spatial relation, and visual memory should be tested.
  • If your child has a Visual Motor Disorder Or Dyspraxia – he may receive a diagnosis of Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). This is not a specific disability but often exists with other disabilities and conditions that affect your child’s ability to learn.
  • If a child has a Sensory Processing Disorder – she may be easily overloaded by what she sees, hears, tastes and smells. SPDs are often described as neurological traffic jams. For this reason, many children with sensory processing problems may also have behavioral problems and are at risk for emotional, social and educational problems if they do not receive effective treatment.
    • A comprehensive evaluation should include vision and hearing tests. Diagnosis of SPD or Sensory Integration Dysfunction are controversial and are not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V).

Adaptive Behavior And Functional Behavior Assessments
If your child has a disability, they may have behaviors that make it difficult for them to learn. Sometimes these behaviors can be harmful to them or others and often cause other children to avoid them.

Adaptive Behavior is a term for the skills your child needs to live safely and independently in the community. Adaptive Behavior Assessment is used to determine if your child has the age-appropriate skills he or she needs to live safely and independently and participate in the community.

    • Adaptive behavior includes:
      • Communication skills
      • Academic skills
      • Daily living or independent functioning skills
      • Social skills
  • A Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) is designed to help the child’s team and teachers understand his or her behaviors and the functions they serve. This information can then be used to develop a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) to develop replacement behaviors that will more constructively meet his needs.

Transition Assessments
Transition planning is a way to set goals for a student’s future, and the assessments are a way to measure the progress. There are specific age requirements for transition services. Many parents are not aware that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires schools to help children with disabilities during transitions.

  • When a child makes the transition from early intervention at age three, the child’s team must develop a plan to ensure a smooth transition to the preschool program.
  • Before the child turns 16 (or as early as 14 in some states), the IEP team must include measurable transition goals in the IEP. These goals must be based on age-appropriate transition assessments.
  • Transition assessments may include:
    • General and specific aptitude tests
    • Adaptive behavior assessments
    • Interest and work values inventories
    • Intelligence tests and academic achievement tests
    • Personality and preferences tests
    • Work-related temperament scales
    • Career maturity or readiness tests
    • Self-determination assessments
    • Transition planning inventories
  • Transition services may include:
    • College and continuing education
    • Vocational education
    • Independent living and community participation
    • Courses of study and advanced placement courses to prepare for future education.

Psycho-educational evaluations Or neuropsychological evaluations
Psycho-educational evaluations are usually conducted by an examiner or several specialists who have a master’s degree or doctoral degree in education or psychology. The examiner(s) will usually assess your child’s:

  • Language skills
  • Academic skills in reading, writing and math
  • Intelligence or cognitive ability
  • Attention, memory and processing speed
  • Neurological functioning
  • Fine and gross motor skills
  • Social or emotional functioning

Neuropsychological evaluations are usually broader in scope than psycho-educational evaluations. A Neuropsychological evaluation should be conducted by a licensed psychologist or licensed neuropsychologist who has training or expertise in neuropsychology.

  • A neuropsychologist may focus more on processes related to learning and executive functioning – memory, attention, organization and the ability to regulate behavior.
    • Such an evaluation is helpful if the child’s intellectual, cognitive functioning, behavior or learning may be impaired.
    • The following should be included in a neuropsychological evaluation:
      • Intelligence
      • Language
      • Attention and memory
      • Perceptual abilities
      • Emotional and personality factors
      • Behavior problems
      • Organization, judgment, planning or efficiency

Ready To Have Your Child Tested? Contact The Firm

Our comfortable legal firm in Sarasota is the perfect place to confidentially discuss your child’s issues and find answers. Please call us at 941-487-7527 or send in an email to our highly skilled Florida attorney.