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Screening Measures & Methods in School Psychology

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

In this lesson, we review various screening measures and methods utilized in school psychology, including a review of some of the standard tests used to evaluate students.

What is School Psychology?

School psychology combines mainly the fields of educational psychology and developmental psychology, along with some elements of other related psychological disciplines.

The overarching goal of school psychology is to promote the general well-being of students. Many ways exist to screen students using psychological assessment methods. Students may be screened for developmental issues such as:

  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Asperger's
  • Autism
  • Dyslexia
  • Hyperlexia
  • Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Methods of Screening

There are many screening methods that a school psychologist can employ to evaluate a student. Furthermore, the screener can combine one or more methods or even utilize a comprehensive plan combining all of the methods. The five major methods used are interviews, observations, rating scales, self-report scales, and standardized tests:

  • Interviews - These allow the screener to garner information from the student's point of view.
  • Observations - These enable the screener to observe the student interacting with friends or in classroom settings.
  • Rating scales - These allow the screener to assess the student on behaviors, emotions, and skills. One test that is useful in this regard is the BASC (Behavior Assessment System for Children.)
  • Self-report scales - These allow the screener to see how students perceive themselves, including their own skills and behaviors. The BASC can also be used for this process.
  • Standardized tests - The primary goal of these exams is to see how the student is achieving in comparison to other students of the same age.

Testing of students can be broadly defined in one of two categories:

  • Mental Ability Tests

Stanford-Binet - This famous IQ test has been utilized for 100 years, since 1916. The fifth, and most recent, edition was released in 2003. These intelligence tests measure both verbal and nonverbal IQ's as well as factors such as knowledge, fluid reasoning, qualitative reasoning, and working memory.

Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-V) - This IQ test measures nonverbal and verbal abilities. It can also test for children that are either developmentally disabled or gifted.

Woodcock-Johnson IV, Tests of Cognitive Abilities (WJ-IV) - This extensive battery of intelligence tests includes mathematics, reading, social studies, and humanities.

  • Personality Tests

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory for Adolescents (MMPI-A) - This roughly one-hour test contains 478 true or false items. Then the student's score can be compared to a norm group of 1,620 students that were selected to represent the population of the United States.

Thematic Apperception Test - This personality test attempts to clarify a student's motivations, conflicts, and interests.

Another Type of Testing

Differential Ability Scales (DAS-II) - This unique test measures neither IQ nor personality. Instead, it concentrates on a student's talents at a variety of activities such as block building, recall of digits, and spelling.

Preventative Measures and Methods

A school psychologist wears many hats and deals not only with students but also parents and educators as well. They may also work with community health agencies. They also deal with urgent issues such as child abuse and substance abuse. They must also monitor at-risk students, and their duties may include intervention services and crisis prevention.

Bullying

School psychologists now screen for bullying and related issues of harassment. This also includes the growing threat of cyberbulling, since almost all students spend extensive time on their handheld devices. Some psychologists estimate that about 45% of all students have been bullied online at some point. The primary screening methods are those of interviewing and observation, as opposed to standardized testing.

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