Assessments

Learning MATTERS assessments have been designed to identify the specific next learning steps for your child, and to assist you in understanding why they may be having difficulties. Appropriate evidence-based action can then be sought to enable success, confidence building and greater progress.

An assessment helps build understanding. It is pretty difficult to have empathy when we don’t understand. 

Here are some options available from Learning MATTERS to get your child on their way:

Learning Matters Assessments
Learning Matters Assessments

Full Cognitive and Educational Assessment

This comprehensive assessment will identify and diagnose a specific learning difference (such as dyslexia, dysgraphia and/or dyscalculia) if it is present.

The assessment tools used will be WISC-V (or WAIS-IV for those aged 17 years or over) and WIAT-III. These assessments are used to measure cognitive and educational abilities. Used together, they are able to: 

  • Identify children (and adults) with specific learning difficulties (such as dyslexia), including those who are twice exceptional or are gifted. 
  • Help in understanding an individual’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses and drive evidence-based interventions that match the individual’s needs. 
  • Determine if a student may be eligible for accommodations, such as a Reader/Writer, use of computer and/or extra time during exams in secondary school. 

The WISC-V (or WAIS-IV) and WIAT-III are accepted by the NZQA for determining eligibility for Special Assessment Conditions in Secondary School and for learning support services in tertiary education providers.

At Learning MATTERS we go the extra mile with this assessment. Our pricing includes the WISC-V (or WAIS-IV), the WIAT-III, and a one hour follow up meeting with you and (if you so wish) your child’s classroom teacher. This assessment takes approximately four hours to administer and you will receive a clear, comprehensive report in approximately two weeks.

Please note this assessment takes place in our Te Awamutu Centre.

Investment $1,200

Learning Matters Assessments
Learning Matters Assessments

Frequently Asked Questions

#1 Why would I consider a Cognitive and Educational Assessment?

This assessment provides a very good overview of an individual’s strengths and challenges. 

It is particularly useful if you, or your child has:

  • Difficulty with literacy and/or numeracy.
  • Been falling behind at school.
  • A family history of learning difficulties.
  • Had testing at school revealing possible dyslexia.
  • Suspected dyslexia/dyscalculia/dysgraphia (Dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia are all Specific Learning Disorders. Dyslexia refers to difficulty with literacy - particularly reading (and often spelling), Dyscalculia refers to difficulty with mathematics or numeracy. Dysgraphia refers to difficulty with writing).
  • A perceived need for accommodations for senior assessments such as extra time, a reader and/or a writer (These accommodations are referred to as Special Assessment Conditions. High schools who apply to the NZQA for SACs often find that a Cognitive and Educational Assessment, while not essential, can assist with the application being successful).

#2 What is the criteria for a diagnosis of a Specific Learning Difference such as Dyslexia, Dyscalculia or Dysgraphia?

The American Psychological Association’s DSM-5 sets out the criteria, which includes the following: 

  1. Difficulties learning and using academic skills (such as word reading, reading comprehension, spelling, written expression, numeracy or mathematical reasoning). 
  2. Symptoms have persisted for at least six months.
  3. Symptoms remain, despite the provision of interventions that target those difficulties.
  4. The learning difficulties are not better accounted for by other factors, including intellectual disabilities, poor vision or hearing, other neurological disorders, etc.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is the manual relied upon by most New Zealand psychologists when making a diagnosis.

Due to this third criteria, students who have not been provided with appropriate interventions can not be formally diagnosed with a SLD such as dyslexia. We can, however, indicate dyslexic tendencies, then follow up with an updated diagnosis once remediation has been provided and the individual has not responded to the intervention. 

Because of this fourth criteria, we must assess the individual’s cognitive ability. If their Intellectual Quotient (IQ) does not fall within the broad average range (or above) for their age, a diagnosis of SLD can not be confirmed. 

#3 What assessment tools are used?

  • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, version 5 (WISC-V)
  • Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, version 4 (WAIS-IV)
  • Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence, version 4 (WPPSI-IV)
  • Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, version 3 (WIAT-III)
  • Woodcock Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities, Achievement and Oral Language, version 4 (WJIV).

The WISC assessment is an IQ test administered to children between ages 6 and 16 by a psychologist. The objective of the test is to determine the student's cognitive strengths and weaknesses. The IQ score can also indicate possible giftedness, as well as intellectual difficulties or global delay.

We mainly use the WISC-V (cognitive) and WIAT-III (educational). 

If clients are younger than six years, we use the WPPSI-IV instead of the WISC-V. 

If clients are older than 16, we use the WAIS-IV instead of the WISC-V. 

The Woodcock Johnson (WJIV) assessment is sometimes used for online clients.

#4 What happens during the assessment?

With the WISC-V, WAIS-IV and WIAT-III assessments: 

  • Some assessment tasks are presented on an iPad device, usually involving tapping responses on the screen, or answering the questions orally.
  • Some assessment tasks are done on paper
  • Some assessment tasks involve listening and responding
  • One assessment task involves copying designs manually, using blocks.

#5 What does the Cognitive Assessment include?

The Cognitive assessment is an IQ test administered to children between by a psychologist. The objective of the test is to determine the student's cognitive strengths and weaknesses. The IQ score can also indicate possible giftedness, as well as intellectual difficulties or global delay.

The WISC-V Cognitive Assessment looks at 5 cognitive domains (how the mind works):

  • Verbal Comprehension (such as accessing and applying acquired word knowledge, etc)
  • Visual Spatial Ability (such as evaluating part-whole relationships, visual detail, etc)
  • Fluid Reasoning (such as using logic, reasoning and abstract thinking to solve problems, etc)
  • Working Memory (such as manipulating information held in conscious awareness, etc)
  • Processing Speed (such as speed of visual scanning, discrimination and coordination, etc)

The WAIS-IV, WPPSI-IV and WJIV Cognitive Assessments also cover a similar range of cognitive domains.

#6 What does the Educational Assessment include?

The WIAT-III Educational Assessment looks at a range of academic skills, including:

  • Oral Language Skills (including listening comprehension and oral expression).
  • Reading Skills (including phonological awareness, comprehension and fluency).
  • Writing Skills (including written expression, spelling and handwriting).
  • Mathematics Skills (including problem solving, calculations and fluency).

The WJIV Tests of Achievement and Oral Language also cover a similar range of academic skills.

#7 What is the best age for a cognitive/ educational assessment?

The sooner, the better! …however (as mentioned before) certain criteria must be met for a firm diagnosis of a Specific Learning Disorder such as dyslexia. 

Depending on the age of your child, or your age – we will administer the most appropriate assessments.

One of the criteria for a specific learning disorder, such as dyslexia, dyscalculia or dysgraphia, is that the individual’s symptoms remain, despite the provision of interventions that target those difficulties.

#8 What other assessments or screening tools can be administered?

Please be aware, we CANNOT diagnose the following, but we can indicate the possibility of other difficulties, such as:

  • Auditory Processing Disorder
  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Developmental Coordination Disorder (Dyspraxia).

#9 How long does the assessment take?

A full Cognitive and Educational Assessment usually takes up to four hours, including short breaks (the assessment takes slightly longer if administered online).

A usual appointment is from 9.00 am to 2.00 pm, which allows for a 60-minute lunch break.

For students younger than 10 years, or for those who have difficulty focusing for prolonged periods, we recommend breaking the assessment over two days.

#10 Where does the assessment take place and who needs to attend?

Assessments are usually administered at our main centre, at 67 Palmer Street, Te Awamutu.

In exceptional circumstances (such as a Level 3 or 4 lockdown situation), assessments may be able to be administered online.

A parent/caregiver is welcome to attend, as long at their child will not be distracted. Most parents come for an initial 5 minutes, then leave. A waiting room is usually available.

For full-day assessments, it is best if the student is taken out for a lunch break of at least 30 minutes.

#11 What happens after the assessment?

Immediately following the assessment, a brief overview of the initial findings will be given.

A comprehensive assessment report will then be emailed within approximately two weeks following the assessment taking place.

A follow-up meeting (of up to one hour) can be held to discuss the assessment findings and recommendations.

Follow-up meetings can be held at our Te Awamutu centre, or online, via Zoom. Teachers/educators etc are welcome to join in on follow-up meetings if you wish.

#12 Why would I choose Learning MATTERS for an assessment?

Many of our clients choose Learning Matters as they prefer to see an Educational Psychologist, rather than a ‘Level C’ assessor.

In addition to learning difficulties, an Educational Psychologist is experienced in picking up on behavioural, social and emotional difficulties.

Follow-up meetings allow for clarification of results.

Feedback from Learning MATTERS assessment clients

“Thank you so much for this. It is very interesting, and very involved. We appreciate all the hard work that went into it. 

Regarding the next steps, as recommended, I’ll get in touch with Learning Matters and book in for some sessions. Our school is also on board to offer support. 

Again, thanks so much.”

“I thank you very much Angela, you did an absolutely first class job in the assessments and you developed a nice rapport with my daughter. 

You have prepared an excellent report, which has many helpful recommendations.”

“Thanks so much for the assessment report and your time last week, we appreciate you meeting with us. 

We are feeling so much more confident about how we can help our son now. He is feeling much more confident now that he has a better insight into why he struggles with his literacy – it has been an invaluable exercise.”

 

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