Why use a specialist SpLD assessor and Why to use an Educational Psychologist?
Updated: Feb 26, 2022
This is question which gets asked a lot.
It is not necessary to get the Educational Psychologist in unless there are issues which are not to do with learning.
A specialist assessor will spend hours investigating the maths and literacy attainment and underlying causes. You would need one who can do dyscalculia as well as dyslexia if you were concerned about maths, but they spend 2 years learning about literacy and 2 years learning about maths, whereas and EP spends 2 years learning about everything. I think that may be a better way at looking at the capabilities of the two. Then both will spend hours a year doing extra training and learning about other SpLDs and analysing assessments.
As a specialist assessor and tutor I get to see many assessments by EPS and SpLD level 7s.
the level 7s produce longer, more in depth reports that analyse the types of errors the student makes and give specific instruction on how to do interventions and what teaching points to start on.
The EP reports mix up a number of different types of scores and make it more difficult to get an idea of areas of strength and weakness. They mix up standardised scores, percentiles, T scores, Z scores and scaled scores and don't have to give you an idea of how they compare. It is a requirement for an SpLD level 7 assessor to put them all into standardised scores and then to explain how these work and what they mean. We have to submit our explanation to scrutiny of an inspection every 3 years, which the EP's don't have to do either.
EP reports are not required to investigate phonics using a standardised assessment of phonics in order to make a diagnosis of dyslexia, which has the diagnostic criteria or being weak on phonics and their requirement for evidence of dyscalculia is even lower.
My problem with this is that I am seeing them diagnose these in children, who, when I come to teach them, do not have the presenting characteristics of the dys, which I would expect and, sometimes really don not have it. This means their difficulties are being caused by something else and this something else remains hidden by a wrong diagnosis.
I write this as I have this about 5 times out of about 9 EP reports I have seen.
I think this is more of an issue for the SENCos, who are having to spend precious resources on putting in interventions which will not work and are ill-founded.
one of the contributors to my Facebook group noted;
We had a full cognitive assessment which also included assessments for dyslexia, dyscalculia and a couple of others for £550 in January 2020. I was told a full cognitive assessment gives a better picture of needs and can help tailor support.
join the Facebook group where we discuss things like this;
As an add on,
As I have recently posted about this in a Facebook group;
A Specialist Dyslexia Assessor; Can and will say if the student has dyslexia as much as possible, virtually every assessment they do (there are some very boarder line ones where they will ask for mor intervention first) Can often spot the indicators of; co-ordination difficulties, which they will refer on - which, as it is medical is essential. Can and will spot potential communication difficulties and will refer on to a multi-agency team, as is needed in these cases. Can and will spot potential attention and concentration difficulties and will refer on to a multiagency team for diagnosis, as is correct. A Specialist Assessor report will be about 30 pages and include about 5 to 7 pages of recommendations and onward referral. Some Specialist Assessors have additional qualifications and certification in; Dyscalculia Adult ADHD Adult Dyspraxia and can diagnose the education needs arising form them. Specialist Assessors will provide many suggestions of interventions and support base on all their findings and observations, including for the difficulties they see in Motor Skills, Communication, Attentions and Hyperactivity and even maths.
An EP will operate under the same restrictions of what they can provide a definite diagnosis for, but like some people who call themselves an assessor of dyslexia but can only screen for it, may actually provide a diagnosis as a sole person.
These diagnosis, apart from dyslexia and dyscalculia, need to be made either by a SALT or a multi-agency team and confirmed by a GP in many cases.
They also may be able to diagnose dyslexia, but not always due to less training in this specific area. In some LEAs they will make a diagnosis in a school but in others they will not. There is no requirement on them to produce a 30 page report just on the dyslexia and there is no requirement on them to do a phonological awareness assessment, unlike a specialist dyslexia assessor.
Some EPs may also diagnose dyscalculia but there is no requirement on them to have additional training in this area before they can engage in this, unlike with specialist assessors. This may mean you get this diagnosis based on a short, time limited maths test.
An Educational Psychologist can work with your student and their teachers around their mental health difficulties which arise from the SpLD difficulties they have.
Some have also got additional qualifications in ASD, ADHD and dyslexia a very few have a dyscalculia additional qualification. An Ed Psych report is typically about 7 to 12 pages long and doesn't include all the recommendations which go on for about 12 pages in all on a Special Dyslexia Report. Longer reports often look at more different possible diagnosis, as opposed to looking in a more in depth way, into your SpLD