The Evaluation Process: What To Expect On The Day Of Evaluation

Growing up I hated tests.  Tests are unsettling to nearly everyone.  A test is a measurement tool.  I use tests to measure various aspects of psychological, psychoeducational, and neuropsychological function.  However, the test (tool) only tells me what is occurring, but it does not explain why it is occurring.  You already know what is going on.  It is why you called my office.  But my job is to explain why.  That is where the term evaluation comes in.  And evaluation is a systematic process of synthesizing data from various sources (e.g., interviews, observations, tests, etc.).  My tests are essentially meaningless without interview data and observations.  Therefore, I tend to refrain from using the word test as much as I can.  It is best to think of my evaluations as just that…an evaluation and not a test.

Seeing my job is to evaluate people and not just test them, my goal is to provide the individual with the best experience possible.  When I do psychoeducational evaluations, I want to elicit kids’ best performance.  I can only do this when they are at ease, so my first step is to make them feel comfortable.

I typically greet kids in the waiting area and then bring the kid and parent(s) back to my office where I can begin establishing rapport.  I like to have fun and tell jokes (dad jokes of course!).  I think this is also a good way to make kids feel comfortable.  Depending on their age, I frequently use a motivational system (e.g., sticker chart) in which they can receive a prize from me if they fill up their sticker chart.  For the prize, I have a treasure chest filled with various items.  This gives the child a goal and something to focus on (obtaining a prize) rather than being “tested.”  Also, I make it very clear to the kid that they earn stickers (reinforced) by putting forth their best effort.  I am not concerned with what they get right or wrong, but merely that they just tried their best.  If I can ensure that the child tried their best, I can ensure I have accurate (valid) test findings.

During the evaluation, we strive to make the experience as comfortable as possible.  This includes utilizing ongoing humor and just having fun with them.  I got into this field because I love working with kids.  My job is enjoyable.  I want to have a good time working with your kid and if I do, they will likely also have fun working with me.  And if I can have the child leave my office feeling better about themselves than when they arrived, then I truly did my job.