What is the difference between an assessment and a test?

With over 30 years of experience working with gifted children, Helen Dudeney from Australian Gifted Support Centre, addresses a very common question; “Should I have my child assessed?”

After hearing from a friend, a teacher or family member who has observed your child’s above average abilities and said: “you should get them assessed!”, parents often contact us asking; “What is an assessment and what is the benefit of having something like that done?”

Many people are not really sure if they are looking for a test or an assessment. Often, they have been told they should get an IQ test and they are not sure if that is going to give them what they are looking for.

So, what is the difference between a test and an assessment?

A test usually entails going to visit an educational consultant or an educational psychologist who will administer a standardised test. Often these tests are called IQ tests, they also might be called Achievement tests. Basically, it is a robust, standardised test which will give a score. That will enable your child to be compared to a very large population of children to find out if they are operating in a similar way to what you would expect for their chronological age. Or it may give you information that shows they are in advance of their chronological age or if they have areas of challenge or delay. So, a test gives us part of the picture.

The difference between a test and an assessment is that the assessment goes further. Not only does it do the standardised test, which is of course exceptionally useful, it also looks holistically at the child. The assessor will ask for developmental history. They want to know about your child’s development, how they are progressing in their education, any issues to do with their health, their social-emotional development and the types of family interactions that the child has. The reason that they look at this is because IQ is just a small part of a whole person, and if we want to know how best to understand and support someone, it helps to have a holistic view.

Another important aspect when choosing an assessment is to work with someone who is very experienced at working with young children. This is because it is not only the score that they get in the tests but also the observations that the assessor can make that help to build a picture of the child. Things such as identifying how your child responds to challenge, what their level of anxiety is, whether they have impulse control issues, are they persistent, what sort of enthusiasm do they have for new challenges and what is their focus and concentration like? All of these are important aspects of how your child will be able to access and develop in their learning.

Comprehensive Developmental Assessment

With our full Comprehensive Development Assessment we are looking holistically at who the child is, what are their strengths, what are their challenges, how are they developing. And then, from that, we provide a report for parents and schools that really gives some specific ideas about educational and behavioural strategies and options that can be put into place to support your child to be the best person they can be.

If you would like to know more about assessments and what we can offer you to support your child send us a message. We will be happy to discuss why an assessment could be useful for your child.