How do Psychologists, Teachers, and Parents Work Together?

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For Parents & Students
5 minute read

In every child's life there are multiple adults working together behind the scenes in order to help that child thrive and succeed. When and if a child begins to show signs of struggle in academics or behavior at school, it takes a team of people willing to collaborate and problem solve to get that child the help and support they need. 

In this blog, we look at how psychologists, teachers, and parents work together during the evaluation process to utilize an evaluation and its recommendations to best help a child within the school context. 

What Does an Evaluation Measure?

A comprehensive psychological evaluation consists of a number of components such as norm-referenced psychological tests and surveys, school and medical records, observational data, informal tests and surveys, and interview information. 

This evaluation is designed to measure what a child is capable of doing. It does not measure what a child's brain does in everyday schooling and test taking. Therefore, the evaluation takes place in an ideal testing environment so that psychologists can capture a child's maximal performance. 

What are Recommendations? 

After the completion of each evaluation, the psychologist will offer a list of recommendations to the parents and school for accommodations and modifications to help that child fulfill their potential. Examples of this might include: preferential seating, extended time on assignments and tests, alternative seating options, etc. 

It is important to understand that these are recommendations, but not mandates. A clinical psychologist is unable to tell any school what they must do for a child. The school ultimately has the responsibility of deciding what resources they have, what is reasonable, etc. 

How Do Psychologists, Teachers and Parents Collaborate? 

Unless a child has come to the school with an evaluation and/or IEP or 504 plan in place, most likely the school and parents have already been in regular communication about issues which have arisen, strategies that have been tried, extra help that has been provided, etc. 

Once the evaluation process has begun, the psychologist will work hand in hand with the school and parents to gather any relevant data. During an evaluation, the school will provide information such as:

  • Areas of concern
  • Questionnaire and survey information
  • Work samples

After the evaluation is complete, the student support team will come together to read over the evaluation and accommodations and provide guidance and planning for next steps. The team will work carefully to decide which accommodations are feasible and most beneficial to the child, who will be responsible for each area of support, and they will also work with the parents to establish goals and timelines for checking progress. 

How Do School Resources and Budget Impact Accommodations? 

What a school can or cannot offer in terms of accommodations is highly determined by staffing, budget, resources, and a variety of other factors. That's why it is very important to have open and honest conversations with the school support team about what they can and cannot provide and have them help you find outside support when needed. 

One thing to keep in mind is that independent schools are not required by law to provide modifications and accommodations to a student. This is not to say there will be no services in independent schools. There are many independent schools who have highly trained staff and an abundance of resources for special education services. We encourage you to take a look at what your child needs compared to what an independent school can offer to determine if it's the best fit for your family. 

What are the Expectations of Teachers During the Process?

One of the things that you should absolutely expect of your child's teachers is a willingness to collaborate, share information, problem solve, and openly communicate with the entire student support team and yourself.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that your child is one of many in a classroom, and most likely one of several with an evaluation and accommodations. In an ideal school setting, your child's teacher will want to do everything they can to help your child succeed. However, keep in mind, there could be a large student to teacher ratio, unpredictable scenarios that pop up daily, limited resources, and a multitude of other factors. 

It is also important to understand that your child's classroom teachers are not trained in special education. However, most teachers will work as hard as possible to meet your child's needs. Additionally, a strong and supportive teacher should be honest about their limitations and will be open to helping you set up additional support systems. 

This week, Parallel hosted a Webinar event with three psychological and educational experts to discuss this process and answer parent questions. If you would like to watch this webinar for more information on this topic, click here.

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504 plan
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Learning Disability
Parent Guide
Testing
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