Sunday, June 4, 2017

Writing Psychoeducational Reports

I like doing evaluations are reports.  There, I said it.  I'm nerdy that way.  In fact, one of the reasons that I love school psychology so much is because my job allows me to have the perfect balance of working with kids and getting to help them in a constructive way.  Every once in a while, I enjoy closing my office door and (trying to) getting some good 'ol reports out.  I previously shared how I prepare and organize assessments, but wanted to share how I go about writing them.  What do you include in your reports?  Any tips?

Throughout my short career thus far as a school psychologist, I've written my fair share of assessments.  I've also defended those assessments to parents and advocates.  I've had times where I've surprised myself my knowing my stuff, and times where I realized I really needed to change the way I was writing something or presenting something.  I've also had the priveldege of working with many great people who have shared with me what helped them, and ways that I can improve my work.  I've listened, and I continue to do so.

When I first started out, I had a very minimal report template, that I'd then add to when I needed, for different assessments.  I quickly realized that for me, this didn't work, because I just couldn't keep track of everything in different files.  So, for about 4 years now, I've been using one "monster" template, that has a section for every single assessment or type I do.  I save everything that could be deleted or changed in red, and then go through and delete those I don't need.  It works for me.

So, what does my template include?

  1. A letterhead:  Depending on your school and district, the information you include will vary-the school name and/or the district name, the school address, etc. and of course, the type of assessment.
  2. Student Information:  This is where I include name, grades, dates of testing and date of report
  3. General Statements:  Since the above remains on my reports no matter what type it is, the first thing I do on my evaluations next is including a disclaimer statement about how the evaluation represents the student at this point in time, and although it validly represents the student at that time, things can change over time.
  4. List of Assessments:  Here I include all the standardized and non-standardized things I have done.
  5. Reason for Referral:  Why are you doing this evaluation?  
  6. Background information:  A general overview of the student's personal and educational history, especially their participation in intervention services.  If I am doing a more in depth developmental history with parents, I will typically incorporate that information here as well.
  7. Observations of students in other settings:  I do at least one observation of a student in the classroom, resource room, etc. for all of my evaluations, (using my student observation checklist) and report on it in this section.
  8. Testing observations:  How was my rapport with the student?  How was their ability to attend during testing?  Their stamina?  This is where I include all of this and more!  Here, I also typically include a paragraph about a student interview if I do one. 
  9. Assessment Results:  The bulk of the report, here is where I break down everything, typically by area such as cognitive measures, social-emotional/behavioral, etc.
  10. Summary of results:  After all that, its time to answer, "so what does this all mean?" and pull all of that great assessment information you got, together in a great interpretation.
  11. Recommendations:  This varies by the type of assessment I am writing, and for whom. Sometimes, my recommendations are very general, such as sharing at the PPT, etc., and other times, I try to write specific recommendations for areas of need.
  12. A statement of Confidentiality:  I typically include this in my general statement, and then mark Confidential on the footer of each page along with the student's name.
Are all that, here are some other tips I try to remember:
  • Proofread, Proofread, Proofread:  Everyone does this differently, but my biggest tip is to write your report, and then take a break and come back to it, reading it "fresh" again.  I also need to print mine out to catch any errors, but that's just the way I work.
  • Make sure your reports are all written in the same tense.
  • Remember who you are writing for:  Most of the time, it's parents, right?  And most parents have never read these reports before, and I try to. keep that in mind.  That said...
  • Use visuals!  Charts and graphs are something I try to include as often as possible, as they help everyone understand where the student is compared to his or her peers.
  • Help parents interpret results:  I use this visual for parents, and teachers, and others ALL THE TIME.  I love it.
  • Make sure to update your "monster" template at the beginning at the end of every year, and each time you write up a new assessment.
What advice of you have to share?


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