Educational advocacy, learning disabilities advocacy     Internet Special Education Resources
Special Education & Learning Disabilities Resources: A Nationwide Directory

What is a Psychoeducational Evaluation?

by Dr. M. L. Burgee, Executive Director of Applied Counseling & Psychoeducational Services, Rockville Maryland
A Psychoeducational Evaluation is a comprehension assessment of a student's functioning in three primary areas that impact learning and academic functioning: These areas, which include: 1) learning aptitude; 2) basic academic skill development; and 3) personality/adjustment factors, which will be described below.

  • Tests of Learning Aptitude - (also called intelligence (IQ) tests, cognitive processing tests investigate a student's abilities on measures of verbal-linguistic skills (long-term memory, abstract reasoning, vocabulary development, comprehension, and auditory short-term memory) as well as non-verbal skills (visual organization and memory, nonverbal reasoning, planning ability, visual motor coordination, spatial visualization ability, and short-term visual memory). Supplemental cognitive (aptitude) tests are given to further investigate any problem areas based on in-take information and observations (e.g., attention, organization, visual-auditory associative memory, processing speed, auditory (phonological processing), long-term retrieval, visuo-spatial memory and fluid reasoning, etc.)
  • Tests of Academic Skill Development - investigate a student's skills in the areas of reading, written language, and mathematics. Within each of these academic domains, the student is tested on measures of basic skills development and higher level application and reasoning skills. For example, reading tests assess word decoding, phonetic skills, word identification, fluency/rate and comprehension.
  • Test of Personality/Adjustment Factors - investigate a student's functioning with regard to the development of his/her academic coping strategies. One's functioning in this regard is sometimes affected by self-esteem, anxiety, internal pressure, motivational levels, etc. that are that are assessed during psychoeducational evaluation. Students are also screened for emotional distress(e.g., anxiety, depression) during this portion of the test.

What are the purposes of an evaluation?

A Psychoeducational Evaluation is often conducted in order to determine whether a specific learning or other disability (e.g., ADHD) may be impacting significantly on a student's academic performance. For instance, the presence of a learning disability, attention deficit disorder, or emotional disorder can result in a great deal of academic frustration and inability for a student to perform at his/her level of innate potential. For example, it has been estimated that 15 to 20% of students are learning disabled. A learning disability is diagnosed when assessment results reveal a significant discrepancy (difference) between a student's scores on achievement tests (in reading, mathematics, and/or written language) and his/her educational expectancy range (based upon age, educational background, and intelligence.)

In addition to determining whether a student has a specific disability that impacts upon learning, plainly stated a psychoeducational evaluation gives a good indication of how a student learns best (i.e., his/her learning style (profile)). Once the teacher , parent, and student are empowered with this knowledge, they can make adjustments in order to maximize the student's learning potential. Often when students can learn to understand their strengths and weaknesses as opposed to global assessments they may have internalized regarding their learning abilities (e.g., dumb, smart, average) they can be able to reduce feelings of academic frustration, while improving self-esteem.

When would or should a Psychoeducational Evaluation be recommended?

A Psychoeducational Evaluation would be appropriate in situations where a student continues to experience academic difficulties after various interventions have been attempted (e.g., parent/teacher conferences, tutoring, study skills, behavior modification, etc.) Another situation would be when parents and/or teachers observe major discrepancies over time in academic performance (e.g., from day to day or between subject areas).

Dr. M. L. Burgee is the Executive Director of Applied Counseling & Psychoeducational Services, Rockville, Maryland, (301) 933-2374.See her listing on

Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.

Educational advocacy, learning disabilities advocacy     Return to ISER Home