UnderstandingDiagnostic Assessments – The Role of the School Psychologist
Interviewsummary and Reflection
Asa requirement to completing my field experience, I interviewed theschool psychologist. My aim was to understand the diagnosticassessments and the role of the school psychologist in the process ofevaluating people with exceptionalities. Being a licensedpsychologist, my interviewee has many years of experience inconducting psychological tests to come up with hypotheses about aperson’s personality, behavior, and capability (Joshi,2013).He has worked in the school clinic for many years and is, therefore,familiar with the complex process that applies a variety oftechniques to collect, analyze and process information on individualswith exceptionalities.
Tostart off the interview, I mentioned that the two main types ofpsychological diagnostic assessments are formal and informalassessments, a statement to which the psychologist agreed. I thenasked him to outline the criteria and distinguishing factors betweenthe two. He stated that, while formal psychological diagnosticassessments are based on standardized series of tests and highlyorganized clinician-conducted interviews, informal ones consist offree-flowing, unstructured interviews or observations that permitboth the psychologist and the client to guide the content. In hisview, unlike the informal psychological assessments that aim atobtaining diverse information, formal assessments are precise andseek to obtain specific information. He however emphasized thatapplying both methods is crucial in coming up with diagnosis that isnot only accurate but also points out the variousunique-to-the-individual forms of problems.
Accordingto the psychologist, formal diagnostic assessments may involvenorm-referenced tests in the form of Intelligence Quotient (IQ) testswhich compares the intelligence of the test taker to that of othertest takers. The individual is given a set of questions to answer inorder to determine their intelligence. With the median IQ set at 100,the various individuals are placed up or down in relation to thatlevel. Conversely, informal diagnostic assessments includeunstructured and free-flowing interviews during which thepsychologist holds a social interaction with the individual and asksquestions that are open-ended allowing the client to express whatthey feel or think in their words. The psychologist then seeksfurther information based on the answers provided.
Iasked the psychologist whether there are any ethical or legalrequirements when administering formal and informal diagnosticassessments to individuals with exceptionalities. He replied,“Dealing with individuals with exceptionalities is a delicate issuethat requires high professionalism and adherence to numerous ethicaland legal prerequisites”. He further explained that similarquestions should be given to all test takers during a formalassessment. It is unethical to allow external assistance in answeringthe questions when testing an individual’s intelligence. Informaldiagnostic assessments require the psychologist to use a languagethat is suitable to the vocabulary of the client. During the session,the psychologist uses a language that is suitable to the vocabularyof the client. He avoids cultural biasness and allows the individualto say as much or as little as they want. He also maintainsconfidentiality and seeks permission before releasing informationobtained from the assessment.
Replyingto my question on information interpretation and how the assessmentinformation is used to make eligibility, programs and placementdecisions for individuals with exceptionalities, the psychologiststated that parents and teachers play a key role in the process.Working as a team, they review and synthesize the information fromthe various tests to identify inconsistencies. This information isthen used to determine the special needs of individuals withexceptionalities and identify the instruction program that speeds upthe acquisition of skills and successfully offers access to thesuitable education curriculum. In order to effectively communicatethe assessment results to the parents and the teachers, thepsychologist elaborates the assessment methods used to obtain theresults. He/she uses a language that the stakeholders understand andclarifies any questions raised. In addition, the psychologistdocuments all the eligibility criteria findings and keeps them in thestudent’s records for future reference.
Reflectingon the interview, I realize that, diagnostic assessments are complexprocesses that require enormous experience and a lot ofprofessionalism. I also discover that, incorporating both formal andinformal psychological diagnostic assessment is key to coming up withindividualized learning programs for people with exceptionalities.Furthermore, psychological assessment requires a lot of backgroundconsultation, a role that calls for the involvement of parents andteachers.
Joshi,R. M., & Leong, C. K. (Eds.). (2013). Readingdisabilities: Diagnosis and component processes(Vol. 74). Springer Science & Business Media.