How much should a Psychoeducational Assessment Cost?
Well, I hate to say this, but "it depends."
Not All Assessments are Alike
The exact nature of the Psychoeducational Assessment you need can be very different from case to case. This includes assessments because of in class behaviour such as aggression towards peers to a student who are struggling..and then the student who isn't doing work and seems bored and we suspect is really "gifted" and whose needs we are not meeting. And that's the issue we should be focusing on when it comes to psychoeducational assessments: what needs does any student have that need to be met for this student to be successful as they can be?
So any individual psychoeducational assessment may be very different. Let's first look at what usually is the same:
A common feature, if not a necessary feature, is a comparison of a students cognitive or intellectual abilities and their academic abilities. Usually this means administering a cognitive-intelligence test (this might be any of the following: The Cattell Culture Fair, Kohs block, Leiter International Performance Scale, Otis-Lennon School Ability Test, Raven's Progressive Matrices, Stanford-Binet IQ test, Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale. Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence, the Wonderlic Test or the more recent and very popular Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scale or RIAS). In addition to the intelligence test a test of academic skills is also administered (This might include anything from the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test to the Wide Range Achievement Test-4 or a any of several others).
The most common combinations are one of the Wechsler Tests of intelligence and a Wechsler test of academic skills, or the Reynolds (RIAS) and Wide Range Achievement Test. The next step is usually to compare these scores and see if there is any reason to suspect a specific learning disability. This is done several ways, but is most often referred to as a "discrepancy analysis." The basic question is: Does the student work at an academic level we would expect, based upon their intelligence.
After this most basic analysis a psychoeducational assessment can go in several directions. If there are behavioural issues it might include testing for personality issues, anxiety, depression, or ADHD. One problem is that school psychologists are neither psychologists or doctors (usually ...some school psychologists here in BC actually are Registered Psychologists) and should not be diagnosing mental health disorders. They look for educational problems, often perform "coding" which is the process of classifying students for different types of services based upon ministry guidelines, and make suggestions for classroom supports. But they usually do not diagnose something like ADHD. You need your family medical do cot or a Registered Psychologist to do that.
If your wondering if your child has autism you need to have a specially trained medical doctor or Registered Psychologist perform a specialized examination using several tools that most psychologists and family doctors do not have training in, and simply don't own.
So to start usually we take a look at cognitive/intellectual ability and compare that to academic ability. From that we determine if there might be a specific learning disability. After that step other tests are usually used to look at specific areas of concern. This might include tests of reading, specific math skills (Key Math is one commonly used test), tests of pragmatic language, visual perceptual skills, auditory processing, balance, gait, motor skills and so on. So the initial phase of the assessment is only the beginning.
Each psychoeducational exam is different, or should be. Often the psychoeducational exam is just a starting point, and to understand the issues a student may also need an assessment by an occupational therapist and/or a speech pathologist. A medical examination should also have been administered to rule out medical reasons for the issues of concern.
So, when a parent asks me how much a psychoeducational examination will cost, I have to ask questions to determine what kind of psychoeducational examination we will be doing. Many parents tell me they are told by other professionals that "a psychoeducational assessment will cost $2,600." A straight forward price. But in reality, until we meet and look at the situation, we aren't sure. Sometimes a psychoeducational assessment isn't even appropriate until a child is seen by his or her medical doctor, an occupational therapist and a speech pathologist, so that other causes of academic difficulty are mistaken and misunderstood. This is why I personally suggest an initial meeting to gather information, history and concerns.
The cost of a psychoeducational exam? Well, it can range from $1,200 -$2,600. It depends. It depends on the situation, the information we need, the amount of testing and how cooperative and able the child is. One price does not fit all, and one "psychoeducational assessment" does not fit all. After an initial meeting we usually know, and together can shape a plan to fit your needs.
Finally, remember, your school should provide a psychoeducational exam....for free. Yes, there are sometimes long waiting lists. And sometimes a school psychologist can't make a diagnosis of a disorder such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or Autism Spectrum Disorder. Some parents also prefer to have an outsider look at their child and give an opinion. All of these are reasons for looking outside the school for an assessment. (Psychoeducational Assessments are not covered by MSP, but most Extended Health Care Plans do provide some or complete coverage for an assessment).
Talk to your family doctor, your school psychologist and give a Registered Psychologist a call. All would be more than willing to talk to you about this subject. (Registered Clinical Counsellors are not qualified to complete Psychoeducational Assessments. An independent Psychoeducational Assessment must be completed by a Registered Psychologist.)
In my offices in Burnaby (serving Burnaby, Coquitlam, New Westminster, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam and Maple Ridge) and Vancouver (serving Vancouver, North Vancouver, West Vancouver and Richmond) I provide comprehensive psychoeducational assessments. I also provide diagnostic assessments for ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder). Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about these services.