Many parents have questions about the types of testing and assessments that their children might experience during their educational journey. There are seven basic categories of assessments: general ability, achievement, aptitude, career, personality, clinical and general educational. From state standardized tests, the specialized education programs, to college admissions; testing can cause a lot of anxiety in children. Information can alleviate some of the stress, and while I do not administer assessments (with the exception of career and and employment inventories and self-assessments used in setting goals), I am available to help you understand results. One of the most confusing elements to a test is how to understand and interpret scores. Some of these tests are criterion-referenced, meaning the performance is measured against a predetermined standard. Norm-referenced tests compare performance to other examinees and assign a score usually expressed as a percentile, grade equivalent, score or stanine.
Intelligence and General Ability. Intelligence tests measure a broad spectrum of cognitive abilities such as reasoning, comprehension, judgment, pattern recognition, memory, processing speed and spatial ability. There are many different types of intelligence testing, and they can vary dramatically based upon the underlying theoretical framework from which intelligence is viewed. Highly qualified and trained individuals such as psychiatrists or educational psychologists should administer and score these types of assessments. Some of the most well regarded and commonly used with young children include:
- Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children
- Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales
- The Kaufman Instruments
- Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities
- Differential Ability Scale
- Emotional Intelligence Scales (Situational Test of Emotional Understanding, Situational Test of Emotion Management, Assessment of Children's Emotion Skills, Baron's Emotional Quotient Inventory and the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test)
- Executive Functioning Skills Assessments (Test of Variables of Attention, Stroop Color and Word Test, Tower of Hanoi, Matrix Analogies Test, Minnesota Executive Function Scale, Delis-Kaplan Executive Function Scale)
Achievement. These tests are designed to see what information has been learned, retained, and can be effectively analyzed and synthesized. These tests can establish the student's current achievement level, monitor progress over time, highlight strengths and weaknesses, aid in making decisions into placement, help in the evaluation of instructional objectives, assist with the diagnosis of learning disabilities, and evaluate individuals for certification or licensure.
- State Standardized Tests such as the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium or SBAC
- Screening Assessment for Gifted Elementary Students
- Bar, Board, Certification Examinations
Aptitude. Compared to achievement, which measure the student's current performance, aptitude tests are intended to predict how a student will preform in the future. This could be related to school performance, job performance, or some other task situation.
- Kindergarten Readiness Assessment such as the DRDP-K
- Admissions tests such as the SAT, ACT, GRE, MAT, GMAT, MCAT, and the LSAT
- Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery
- Differential Aptitude Tests for Personnel and Career Assessment
- General Aptitude Test Battery
- Career Ability Placement Survey
- Specialized Aptitude Tests such as for Clerical Ability, Mechanical Ability, Psycho-motor Ability, Artistic Ability and Musical Ability
Career and Employment. While aptitude tests help employers or admissions officers determine how likely a candidate is to perform, career and employment assessments help individuals determine the appropriateness of a college or career pathways to their strengths, interests, and abilities.
- Holland's Self-directed Search (RIASEC)
- Strong Interest Inventory
- Campbell Interest and Skill Survey
- Super's Work Values Inventory
- O-NET Online
- Kuder Skills Assessment
- Motivational Interviewing Techniques
- Some types of personality inventories can also help develop self-awareness necessary for career exploration:
- Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory
- Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator
- Sixteen Personality Factor
- The Big Five Personality Inventory
- Quality of Life Inventories
- Self-Esteem Inventories
- Self-Awareness Inventories
- Social Skills Inventories
Personality. Much like intelligence testing, personality assessments are designed with an underlying theoretical framework as to the definition of personality. While some personality inventories are useful for self-awareness activities and college/career searches, others are used to diagnose personality or mood disorders. Both psychologists and psychiatrists with specialized training and under state board certification are qualified to administer. These assessments help to define client's presenting complaints so that data driven treatments and interventions can be administered.
- The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (hypochondria, depression, hysteria, psychopathic deviations, masculinity-femininity spectrum, paranoia, anxiety, schizophrenia, hypo-mania, social introversion)
- Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (schizoid, somatoform, bipolar, dysthymia, alcohol dependence, narcissistic, antisocial, sadistic, compulsive, negativistic, masochistic, schizotypal, anxiety, avoidant, depressive, dependent, histrionic, drug dependence, posttraumatic stress, thought disorders, major depression, delusional, boderline, paranoid)
- Projective Techniques
- Trait Inventories such as the Myers Briggs, Riso-Hudson Enneagram, Sixteen Personality Factor, and The Big Five
Clinical. The key function of a clinical assessment is the diagnosis of a qualifying mental disorder under the DSM-5. Multiple measurements, observations and interviews are used to make determinations. The DSM-5 was established by the American Psychiatric Association and is intended to be used for official diagnoses by those specially trained and supervised by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Other mental health professionals can and do use the DSM-5 to understand client conditions and administer treatment. Many times, the subjective and objective case notes from these professionals are used by the psychiatrist in creating a clinical assessment. For children, these often include behavioral assessments such as the Eyeberg Child Behavioral Inventory, Child Behavior Checklist, Trauma Symptom Checklist for Young Children, and the Parenting Stress Inventory.
Educational. The key function of an educational assessment is to determine qualification of a disability under IDEA 2004. An educational diagnostician or psychologist may use multiple measurements, observations and interviews to make determinations. Any disability, learning or attention issues can qualify a child for a Section 504 Plan, which covers a broader definition than those listed under IDEA. Parents can use educational evaluations, or look to a family physician for assessments or referrals if they are concerned about a condition impairing their child's ability to be successful in school. If one of these qualifying categories is indicated, then an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and team will be established:
- Auditory Impairment
- Emotional Disturbance
- Learning Disability
- Intellectual Disability
- Multiple Impairments
- Orthopedic Impairment
- Other Health Impairment
- Speech Impairment
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Visual Impairment
- Noncategorical Early Childhood
Counseling Assessments. These type of questionnaires help counselors assess a student's self-beliefs and determine appropriate goals and interventions during the counseling process. They are also useful for measuring the effectiveness of the counseling process.
Self-esteem (adapted from Rosenberg’s Scale, 1965)
Emotional Regulation (adapted from DERS Scale, 2004)
Coping Skills (adapted from COPE Scales, 1987)
Healthy Friendships (adapted from McGill, 1997)
Mental Health Self-Assessments. These questionnaires help a counselor assess if a student is at risk of harm to self or is experiencing anxiety or depression.
Beck Depression Inventory
Beck Hopelessness Scale
Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation
Clark-Beck Obsessive Compulsive Inventory
Beck Anxiety Inventory
Suicide Cognitions Scale
Self-harm Behavior Questionnaire
Reasons for Living Inventory
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD-7)
Mental Health Screening Tools. These questionnaires are used school wide to screen for at-risk youth and collect school climate and culture data.
California Healthy Kids Survey
Adverse Childhood Experiences Questionnaire