Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Licensed Educational Psychologist (LEP)?
A Licensed Educational Psychologist (LEP) is a specialist who works with children and adults to identify and help remediate learning difficulties. All Licensed Educational Psychologists meet or exceed the requirements set forth by the Board of Behavioral Sciences for the state of California. In order to receive licensure as a Licensed Educational Psychologist in the state of California, a person must meet specific educational requirements, including specific training in individual assessment and interventions, and must possess at least a master’s degree in psychology, educational psychology, school psychology, or counseling and guidance. In addition, the person must have completed a minimum of three years of full-time experience as a fully credentialed school psychologist working in a public school. Finally, the person must pass a written competency examination developed by the Board of Behavioral Sciences.
Although a Licensed Educational Psychologist works with people of all ages, many specialize in working with school-age children and adolescents (i.e., ages 5-18). This generally involves a variety of assessment tools used to identify specific learning problems and develop appropriate interventions tailored to meet the individual's specific needs.
The scope of a Licensed Educational Psychologist's practice is defined in the California Business and Professions Code (§4989.14):
"The practice of educational psychology is the performance of any of the following professional functions pertaining to academic learning processes or the education system or both:
(a) Educational evaluation.
What is a psychoeducational assessment?
A psychoeducational assessment is an evaluation that assesses a person's overall cognitive abilities (i.e., IQ), specific cognitive processing skills (e.g., attention, memory, auditory processing, visual processing, etc.), academic skills (e.g., reading, writing, mathematics), and, depending on the person's needs, his or her social, emotional, and behavioral functioning. The assessment includes evaluation of the person's weaknesses as well as areas of strength that can be tapped to help compensate for the areas of weakness.
Psychoeducational assessments are most often performed to help determine why a person is having difficulty learning, establish eligibility for special education services, develop appropriate interventions for people experiencing learning difficulties, determine whether a person is eligible for accommodations and modifications under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, or identify giftedness.
What does a psychoeducational assessment involve?
A psychoeducational assessment generally begins with an interview to gather information about the person in question. The interview will include obtaining information about the person's early developmental history, medical history, educational history, and, for adults, career history. During the interview, standardized questionnaires or behavior rating scales may also be administered. The purpose of the interview is to aid in diagnosis as well as to narrow the assessment so it is tailored to the specific concerns.
After the interview, a number of standardized tests are administered. These tests are used to identify strengths and weaknesses in cognitive processing as well as academic skills. There is no single test that can tell if a person has a learning disability, but rather a battery of tests are specifically selected and administered in order to diagnose the nature of the learning problems.
The cognitive tests involve listening to questions and giving spoken answers to them, examining and thinking about things such as designs and pictures, solving problems without using words, and retaining information in memory, mentally manipulating that information, and producing a result. The person's performance is then used to determine how well he or she is able to understand verbal information, think with words, and express thoughts in words, utilize abstract reasoning skills, process spatial information, utilize visual-motor integration skills, solve nonverbal problems, and sequence or discriminate visual information.
The academic tests include standardized tests of academic ability, which often focus on the specific academic areas of need, such as reading decoding, reading fluency, reading comprehension, written expression, numerical operations, and math reasoning.
What happens after the assessment?
After the evaluation is completed, a comprehensive report summarizing all of the assessment results is written. This process generally takes two to three weeks. After the report is written, a meeting is scheduled to review all of the assessment results and the recommendations, and a copy of the written report is also provided to you at that time. With your consent, school personnel are welcome to attend this meeting.
Will I receive a written report of the assessment results?
Yes, you will receive a comprehensive, written report that summarizes the findings of the assessment. This includes description and discussion of specific cognitive processing weaknesses, strengths that can be used to compensate for the areas of weakness, social, emotional, or behavioral strengths and weaknesses (if applicable), and specific strategies and recommendations to help the person succeed.
Will you share the results of the assessment with anyone?
Confidentiality is of the utmost importance, and is mandated by state law. All assessment reports, test protocols, observation results, information obtained through interviews, etc., are considered private and confidential, and cannot be shared with anyone without your consent.
In the case of a minor, the assessment results will be shared with the child's parents as well as the entity with whom I have contracted to complete the assessment (if applicable). The results will also be shared with anyone you may choose to bring to the meeting. After the meeting, the assessment results will not be shared with anyone without your express written consent. This includes the assessment report, copies of test protocols, interview notes, etc.
In the case of an adult, the assessment results will be shared with the adult being assessed and anyone he or she chooses to bring to the meeting. Again, after the meeting the assessment results will not be shared with anyone without your express written consent.
What ages do you work with?
I am licensed to provide evaluations of individuals of all ages. However, I typically work with children ages five to eighteen and adults.
How do I know if my child needs a psychoeducational assessment?
You may have concerns that your child is struggling in school or doesn't seem to be living up to his or her potential. Or you may have noticed that your child has a much harder time completing certain types of academic work than other children his or her age. Your child may be developing behavioral problems at school or refusing to go to school. Any of these could be symptoms of a Learning Disability.
If you suspect your child has a Learning disability, it is important to talk with school personnel about your concerns. You can request, in writing, that the school evaluate your child for a possible learning disability.
What is a Learning Disability?
A learning disability is a neurological condition that affects one or more of the basic psychological processes that are involved in understanding or using spoken or written language. The disability may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or to do mathematical calculations.
A learning disability is the result of a cognitive processing deficit. This means that the brain processes information in a different way that can interfere with the way one learns. A Learning Disability can be the result of visual processing deficit, auditory processing deficits, memory problems, or sensory-motor problems.
Most people with Learning Disabilities have average or above average intelligence. Often there is a gap, or discrepancy, between the person's intelligence and their academic achievement. Learning Disabilities are sometimes called "hidden" or "invisible" disabilities, because many people with Learning Disabilities look perfectly normal and present as "bright" and intelligent. However, those with undiagnosed Learning Disabilities are often unable to demonstrate academic skills at a level expected for their intelligence.
Learning Disabilities should not be confused with learning problems that are primarily the result of limited school attendance, unfamiliarity with the English language, sensory handicaps (e.g., blindness or deafness), emotional problems, or cultural or economic disadvantage.
How do you know if my child has a Learning Disability?
The psychoeducational assessment process is very lengthy and thorough. By combining data obtained through a comprehensive interview, in-depth testing, and observations, it is possible to determine whether or not a person has a Learning Disability.
What about other kinds of disabilities?
As a Licensed Educational Psychologist, I am able to make diagnoses as they pertain to the educational settings. This includes Learning Disabilities, Mental Retardation, and Giftedness. I can also determine whether your child has symptoms of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). However, the final diagnosis regarding ADHD or Autism must be made by a licensed clinical psychologist or a physician.
What about Giftedness?
The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) defines Giftedness as, "A gifted person is someone who shows, or has the potential for showing, an exceptional level of performance in one or more areas of expression." Giftedness is defined by U.S. Federal Law (The Javits Acts of 1988) as follows: "The term 'gifted and talented,' when used in respect to students, children, or youth, means students, children, or youth who give evidence of high performance capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who require services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop such capabilities." In general, children for whom intellectual testing indicates an IQ of 130 or better are considered to be Intellectually Gifted (although the requirements for entry into a Gifted and Talented Education program [i.e., GATE] vary from school district to school district and are often based on more than just one score.) The testing I perform will give an IQ score for your child which is frequently one of the factors used to identify Giftedness. It is important to remember that Gifted Children can also have Learning Disabilities.
Do you contract with parents or with schools?
Both. I am available to contract with parents who have specific concerns about their child's academic progress. I also contract with schools for private evaluations or in cases where the school does not currently have a school psychologist on staff to complete a psychoeducational assessment. I am also available to complete assessments for Regional Centers, Courts, or other agencies that require a comprehensive psychoeducational assessment.
Isn’t my school district required to assess my child if I ask them to?
Yes. When you have a concern about your child’s education, it is important that you contact your child’s teacher or school administrator to talk about your child and any concerns you have. Under California state law, when you give the school a written request for an evaluation of your child, within 15 calendar days the school must provide you with an assessment plan outlining which areas will be assessed.
My school district assessed my child but I disagree with the results. Now what?
If you disagree with the results of the school's assessment, you are legally entitled to request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at the school district's expense. An IEE is a psychoeducational assessment conducted by a Licensed Educational Psychologist or other qualified professional. You can think of it as a "second opinion" regarding whether or not your child has a disability.
When you request an IEE, one of two things happen:
The school district must pay for the assessment, at no cost to you, and the assessment must be completed by someone who is not an employee of the school district.
Or, if the school district believes that their assessment is valid and does not want to pay for an IEE, they may initiate a due process hearing, wherein a state Hearing Officer will hear your case and determine whether the school's assessment was valid or whether you are entitled to an IEE. If the Hearing Officer rules in favor of the school, you are still entitled to an IEE, but not at public expense.
In other words, if you request an Independent Educational Evaluation, the school district must either have your child evaluated at no cost to you, or show, at a due process hearing, that the school’s evaluation was appropriate.
Even if a hearing Officer sides with the school and does not require the school to pay for an IEE, some parents find it useful to obtain an IEE at their own expense in order to gain more information about their child's strengths and weaknesses, as well as recommendations and strategies to help enhance their child's success.
You can get more information about Independent Educational Evaluations by going to www.schwablearning.org, and searching for "IEE," or by going to the Learning Disabilities Association of America website, www.ldaamerica.org, and searching for "IEE."
Does my school district have to accept your findings?
Yes and no. If parents obtain an IEE at private expense (that is, at their own expense), the law requires that the school district consider the results of the assessment at an IEP meeting. However, giving consideration to results of the IEE doesn't mean the school has to agree with the results or accept the recommendations in the report. Often there may be agreement or overlap between school and independent evaluation, but there also may be disagreements about the results or the best way to proceed.
An IEE may also be presented as evidence in a due process hearing, and must be considered by a Hearing Officer when making his or her decision.
How much does a psychoeducational assessment cost?
I charge a flat fee for each assessment depending upon the nature and severity of the concerns. After our initial telephone conversation, I will let you know what the fee is based on your specific needs. The flat fee includes the entire evaluation, the written psychoeducational report, and the meeting to discuss the assessment results.
I am also available to attend Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings. I charge an hourly rate to attend IEP meetings on behalf of a parent or school district.
Will you bill the school district after you do your assessment?
Do you accept insurance?
Unfortunately, due to the inconsistency among insurance plans and the specific, detailed nature of my evaluations, I am unable to accept insurance at this time. In addition, most insurance carriers do not pay for psychoeducational evaluations.
Do I have to pay the entire fee up front?
I require 50% of the fee when we meet to begin the assessment. The final 50% of the fee is required at the beginning of the meeting to discuss the assessment results.
Do you offer therapy or tutoring services?
No, not at this time.