Friday, December 11, 2009

Strategies are Key to Success

We recently received an email from a local psychologist, who told us that he had just completed testing of a student who turned out to have significant learning challenges. He asked where he might find someone to help this student and his school find strategies to deal with these issues. He was hoping we had some advice.

We're still shaking our head over this one. At the Yellin Center we fundamentally believe that assessment is only the first part of a process of both understanding how a student learns and -- of at least equal importance-- providing strategies and tools for the student to use at home and at school to remediate his areas of weakness and to build on his areas of strength. When a student and his family receive a "report" that details scores and numbers, but goes no further, they often need to rely completely upon their school to tell them what these scores mean and to decide what, if anything, they will do to assist the student.

 It's like visiting your internist who tells you that your tests indicate you have high blood pressure. "So," you ask your doctor, "what am I supposed to do now/"

"I'm sorry," this fictional doctor would reply,"I only give you the numbers. I will leave it up to you and the drug company to decide what you can do about it."

Of course, this is ridiculous. But so is providing scores and numbers on academic and other tests without providing information and support to explain what these scores mean and how these findings can be dealt with in school and elsewhere. That is why every one of our neurodevelopmental assessments ends with a meeting with the family and student (where appropriate) to discuss our preliminary findings and present some initial strategies to put in place immediately. Once the family has receive our full report, which includes numerous suggestions and strategies, they are invited back to discuss our full findings and to receive guidance on how to implement these strategies. We will also speak to their school or tutor to make sure that our report is clear to them and to discuss the strategies we recommend and how they can be implemented. It is simply the right way to do things.

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