Home   עברית
I would like to receive updates from Nitzan association
facebook nitzan page link
> Nitzan Services > Parent's Complete Evaluation Guide

Parent's Complete Evaluation Guide

The Nitzan Association Compiled for Parents the Complete Guide for the Evaluation Process Article by Niv Ophir in the "Maariv - Katantanim" newspaper, 27/5/10

He's a smart child, a good student, but he reads slowly and makes spelling mistakes. He knows how to solve an equation with two variables, but errs in simple calculations. How can he be helped? The parents are sure he needs an evaluation for learning disabilities, but how do they do this? At the Nitzan Association for the Advancement of Children and Adults with Learning Disabilities, Attention-Deficit, and Adaptive Difficulties, they've compiled all of the information for worried parents. 


Which is the appropriate evaluation?

When the child's main difficulties are in the area of learning skills - reading, writing, reading comprehension, and math - it's recommended to begin with a didactic evaluation, in which these skills are checked. In addition, the cognitive ability, which serves as the basis for learning skills, is evaluated (thinking, spatial and auditory information processing, language, memory, attention, and self-organization).

The goals of the evaluation are primarily to map out the profile of difficulties and the student's academic strengths, to determine if the difficulties are in fact the result of a learning disability, and if so, to design a treatment and support program that will rely on his strengths and will be customized to his difficulties.

When to prefer a psycho-didactic evaluation?

In the majority of cases it is preferred to begin with an evaluation in the didactic area, besides cases in which there is no doubt that significant emotional influences are affecting academic functioning or when there is a suspicion of a low general capacity (i.e., below average intelligence).  Occasionally, after the didactic evaluation, if its findings point to emotional factors significantly interfering in academic functioning, or particularly severe learning difficulties, it's recommended to complete the picture with the help of a psychological evaluation. The purpose is to allow differential evaluation between the learning difficulties as a result of emotional factors and between learning disabilities, in other words, personality, emotional, behavioral, and social difficulties that are likely to influence academic functioning.

Which evaluation is needed when there's a suspicion of ADHD?

In a case where the main problems influencing the learning are in the area of attention-deficit, it's recommended to begin with an evaluation of attention, including a psychiatric or neurological assessment - a clinical assessment designed to check for the presence of medical or emotional disorders and their influence on learning processes. Occasionally, in addition to the medical assessment, the student is referred to a computerized test in order to strengthen the clinical assessment.

At what age is it recommended to conduct an evaluation?

In general, it's recommended to identify the learning disability as early as possible. Therefore, the appropriate age to diagnose learning disabilities is the age in which the difficulties begin. It's important to stress that learning disabilities can be uncovered at different stages. Usually, they're revealed already at the beginning of the child's schooling, but there are students whose disabilities are revealed only when they come to high school or university. In practice, there are many cases where students with learning disabilities are not diagnosed and they succeed in dealing with their studies despite the disability, while relying on their other strengths. However, with the increased difficulty in material and academic requirements, more difficulties are expected to arise and cause lower achievements. 

What's important to make sure of when going for an evaluation?

  • Go to a recognized center with experience and a reputation for conducting evaluations.
  • Verify the evaluator's training: A didactic evaluator must be a professional with an academic background in the fields of psychology or education who received extensive training in assessing learning disabilities from a recognized institution with experience in evaluations and knowledge in the areas of evaluation and related fields, including educational policy.
  • Find out the evaluator's specialty to make sure from the beginning that he's appropriate for the age of the child being evaluated and the evaluation to be conducted. Certain evaluators are trained in evaluations for learning disabilities in wide range of ages; others specialize only in certain ages.
  • Remember that an evaluation in math and English requires special training. If the child is multi-lingual (in other words, Hebrew isn't his mother language), it's advisable to consider conducting the evaluation with an evaluator who speaks the child's mother language.
  • Find out if you can consult with the evaluator after the evaluation as well with relevant questions and if he can, when needed, offer guidance to the teachers and other professionals working with the child.


The Evaluation Process

The evaluation takes place during one meeting of four to five hours, or it's split up to two (according to the age of the child and his ability to concentrate). It must include a preliminary interview with the child and the parents in which extensive information will be gathered on the family, developmental, and educational history of the child. The information will assist in receiving a reliable diagnosis and in creating a treatment program. Therefore, it's recommended to bring to the evaluation all relevant documents - previous evaluations, treatment summaries, etc.


The evaluation includes different tests whose purpose is to evaluate the learning skills and the verbal and non-verbal abilities, the different layers of the spoken language, spatial and motor information processing, different types of memory, and attention resources.


Preparing the child

Even though most of the evaluators will try to form a good connection with the child, the evaluation situation is likely to be stressful for the child. Therefore, it's important to prepare the child for the evaluation, to tell him what's expected and to stress to him that it's not a test and there aren't grades, but rather the purpose is to check and it's possible to help him to succeed in his studies. It's very important that the child comes feeling comfortable, awake, and focused.


After the evaluation

  • One should demand from anyone who evaluates or treats the child throughout the year, a detailed written report. It's advisable to keep the original copy (best in an orderly folder) and to give the school a photocopy.
  • The conclusions of the didactic evaluation summarized in a report including a detailed list of the tests, a detailed report of the child's functioning in each one of the areas, conclusions and recommendations for future treatment. If the evaluation findings indicate a learning disability, recommendations are also given for accommodations in testing methods, according to the definitions of the Ministry of Education.
  • A good evaluation doesn't only focus on the student's difficulties, but rather also highlights his strengths and provides a full and broad profile of the student's skills. The evaluation's recommendations need to include clear suggestions of methods for treating the difficulties, while relying on the strengths and their reinforcement.
  • It's important to make sure there's a comprehensive feedback meeting in which the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the evaluation are presented to the parents and students in a clear and friendly manner. In this conversation it's recommended to discuss with the evaluator practical ways to help the student. The parent should make sure to leave the conversation feeling ready to contact the teachers and present to them the issues and to attempt to form together with them how they can help the student.
  • Remember, the child is watching you and learns from your reactions how to understand the situation. If you'll speak with him about his difficulties, explain to him that many children with similar difficulties overcome them, and mainly if you'll stress his strengths, this will make it easier for him to believe in himself.
  • Experience teaches that the key to the child's success is first and foremost a parent who understands, supports, and knows how to help.


The Nitzan Association, a non-profit parent's association, is committed to assisting parents with different intervention programs provided to parents at subsidized fees. Among the programs are: support groups, parent's coaching, parent's university, and parent conferences.