What is a psychometric assessment?
A psychometric assessment is a process of evaluating an individual’s current ability levels across different domains of functioning. The information gathered from the assessment is used in the diagnosis of childhood disorders as well as behavioural and learning disorders. This information is helpful for determining an individual’s support needs and allows clinicians to make the appropriate recommendations. Psychometric tests are standardised testing tools. This means that the test has been developed to have uniformity in administration, scoring and interpretation. When a test is ‘standardised, all participants have required to answer the same questions in the same order and with the same testing conditions. This way clinicians are able to compare an individuals performance relative to their age-matched peers.
Who would benefit from a psychometric assessment?
Individuals who are referred for psychometric assessment often report difficulties in a range of areas including learning, behaviour and daily functioning. Clients who may benefit from a psychometric assessment include children who present with the following difficulties:
- Difficulties with paying attention, concentrating, and starting/finishing tasks in time
- Distractibility, forgetfulness, lack of organisation, difficulties following multi-step instructions
- Hyperactivity, restlessness, fidgetiness; difficulties with impulse control
- Difficulties with reading, spelling, or doing math; falling behind at school
- Lack of interest/engagement or motivation at school
Currently, we offer psychometric assessments to children/teens aged between 6 and 16 years of age. We assess for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), specific learning disorders (i.e., dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia), language difficulties, intellectual disability, and giftedness.
What does the assessment process involve?
One of our psychologists will meet with the child/teen and his/her parents for an initial interview. In this 50-minute appointment, we get a shared understanding of the current concerns, how these difficulties have developed over time, as well as a broader sense of the child/teen’s academic performance, social functioning, and developmental/medical history. During this initial interview, we also establish what we’re hoping to better understand and whether a psychometric assessment is suitable. If a psychometric assessment seems suitable, the next step is to book in a testing session. During this testing session, the child/teen works through various activities and tasks that are designed to assess their cognitive functioning and academic skills. This testing session usually takes three to four hours. Don’t worry – we take regular breaks to make sure that the child/teen’s concentration can be sustained so that the results are reflective of their actual abilities. After the initial interview and testing sessions, we may also send out online questionnaires to be completed by the child’s parents, teachers, and/or the teen. After the scores of the psychometric assessment have been calculated and interpreted (i.e., compared to the average scores of age-matched peers), a report will then be written up. This report will summarise the current difficulties/concerns, background information, behavioural observations during the testing session, and test results. Critically, the psychologist will pull together all of this information and in the report, summarise whether any diagnoses or notable weaknesses are indicated, and provide individually tailored recommendations regarding appropriate strategies/interventions; this can sometimes include a referral to a paediatrician or another allied health professional for further assessment and support. Finally, parents are invited to attend a 50-minute feedback session in which the psychologist will explain the assessment results and recommendations outlined in the report. This will also provide an opportunity for parents to ask questions and discuss the plan moving forward.
What type of assessments are used?
To assess cognitive functioning, we use the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – 5th Edition (WISC-V) – the latest version of a commonly-used test of intellectual ability with ample normative data. Subtests of this assessment battery tap into acquired knowledge, novel problem-solving, visuo-spatial abilities, working memory, and processing speed. The Wechsler Individual Achievement Test – Australian and New Zealand Standardised, Third Edition (WIAT-III) is used to assess academic performance and whether a child is performing at a grade-appropriate level across areas of reading, comprehension, spelling, writing, and mathematics. If appropriate, our conclusions may also be informed by results of questionnaires completed by the parents, teachers, and/or the teen. These questionnaires have sound psychometric properties and are used to assess symptoms of ADHD, including inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, and difficulties with higher-level cognitive abilities.
Who can administer these psychometric assessments?
Only registered psychologists (i.e., clinical psychology registrars, some school psychologists, some clinical psychologists, and neuropsychologists) are professionally trained to administer both the WISC-V and WIAT-III and to interpret the results of these assessments in the context of presenting concerns, background information, and behavioural observations during testing. Along with medical practitioners (e.g., doctors, paediatricians), registered psychologists are also the only other professionals who are trained to administer and interpret the results of the psychometric questionnaires we use to assess for ADHD symptoms.