Long-Term Memory Problems in Children and Adolescents: Assessment, Intervention, and Effective Instruction

By Milton J. Dehn | Go to book overview

5 CHAPTER
Long-Term Memory
Assessment Strategies

“Jane”wasan11-year-oldfifthgraderwhenherparentscalledtoinquireabout testing. Jane had been receiving speech and language therapy since the age of 3 and educational services for a learning disability since first grade. In fifth grade, Jane was struggling with verbal expression, oral comprehension, written expression, and reading comprehension. Her abilities and skills had been tested several times, and her school would continue to evaluate her on a regular basis. Previous examiners had reported IQ, language, and academic scores and had identified Jane’s language and learning disorders. Yet, her parents, who studied with her every evening at home, were dissatisfied with the assessment information. They wanted to understand why Jane was experiencing learning problems, her learning strengths and weaknesses, and how to teach her. As her father summed it up, they wanted “answers to the riddle”so that they could more effectively help Jane learn and succeed in school. The parents wanted some answers before Jane entered middle school in a few months.

These parents and others like them have expectations for psychoeducational assessment that are often unmet. Sometimes, evaluators in medical and educational settings focus too much on making a diagnosis or disability placement and don’t provide parents, teachers, and students with answers to the questions that initiated the referral. Often evaluators use a standard battery for each case instead of adapting the assessment to the specific referral questions and hypotheses. Traditionally, an IQ test has been part of the standard battery when children are referred for learning problems. But an IQ score alone provides very little information about the learner’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses and at best answers only one of the “why” questions. For instance, Jane’s Full Scale IQ was reported to be a 91 (at the low end of the average range) when she was tested in first grade. Knowing this “fact” about Jane provided teachers and parents with little insight as to how to teach and work with Jane. When this author was a young school psychologist, an assertive parent challenged his use of a standard assessment battery. The parent insisted that she did not want an IQ score reported. Instead, she wanted to know about her child’s specific cognitive abilities. Her request (in effect, a request for a cross-battery assessment) led to the use of three different cognitive scales and a better understanding of why the child was struggling in school. Basically, the traditional cognitive

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