Through a battery of individually-administered, nationally normed tests, an evaluator can determine what a student’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses are and how these can impact upon a child’s academic learning. Cognitive, (or intellectual), testing is usually the first step. These tests provide an abundance of information about a child’s cognitive processing skills including, but not limited to, verbal ability, spatial ability, nonverbal reasoning, processing speed and memory skills. An evaluator can further test in these and other areas if it is warranted; for instance, memory skills are an area in which an evaluator often does additional testing. An evaluator can also assess through both tests and rating forms a student’s executive function skills, or the cognitive processes required to plan and direct activities, such as initiating tasks, shifting between tasks, using working memory, sustaining attention, monitoring performance, inhibiting impulses, controlling emotions, and organizing materials.
An evaluator will also do academic testing to look at the student’s reading, writing, math, listening, and expression skills. Again, a variety of tests can be used to look at different aspects of a student’s academic learning. By examining the cognitive processing and academic information together, the evaluator can make recommendations on how to strengthen a child’s academic learning either through modifications or curricular changes. The data gathered through educational testing is typically used by the student’s educational team to determine eligibly for special services and to establish appropriate program goals.