Welcome to our latest blog post, where we dive into the important topic of the “Reason for Referral” in special education evaluations. Today, let’s explore why understanding the exact reason for referral is essential and how it directly influences the assessment process, particularly which assessment tools we choose.

Tailoring Assessments for Targeted Results  

Knowing the specific reason for referral helps school psychs select the most appropriate assessment tools. For instance, if we assess a student with a decoding issue, psychs will likely focus on phonemic awareness, rapid naming skills, and phonological memory, all crucial elements covered in the CTOPP. On the other hand, what if comprehension is the concern? School psychs would then likely incorporate memory tests that dive deeper than simple number-based memory, such as sentence or story memory tasks. Choosing the correct assessment tools is critical to completing a thorough assessment. 

Insufficient Pre-Referral Data

There are times when special education evaluations can present challenges to school psychs. What happens when limited information is given on why a student is being referred for an assessment in the first place? In such cases, school psychologists will want to connect with teachers and parents to capture the correct data before planning their assessment. What is the specific reason for referral?  

Extracting Insights From Multiple Sources

If you don’t have a clear reason for referral, gathering information from multiple sources will be useful. This includes gathering data from cumulative records, insights from parents and teachers, observations, and, if applicable, direct input from the student. Asking students the right questions, such as “Why is this hard for you?” or “Why is that easy for you?” can provide invaluable perspectives and guide school psychs toward a more thorough assessment.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the quality of information we’re gathering for student evaluations. Understanding the reason for referral is not just a formality—it’s a strategic move that ensures our assessment process is accurate, targeted, and ultimately beneficial for the student. Remember, the more informed our decisions, the more effective our assessments will be. 

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