What is the difference between a neuropsychological evaluation, a psychoeducational evaluation, and a comprehensive evaluation?

Navigating the world of assessment is confusing, especially because there is no standardization in how evaluations are classified. Further complicating the issue is that providers are generally all using the same tests (e.g., there are a handful of tests used to measure general intelligence, with most practitioners using the Wechsler IQ tests).

Generally speaking, a neuropsychological evaluation emphasizes brain-based processing and aptitudes, such as problem solving skills, memory, attention, and language. The pattern of strengths and weaknesses is used to explain academic performance. Social/emotional functioning is usually assessed in a cursory manner, using checklists that parents, teachers, or the students complete.

A psychoeducational evaluation is more educationally-focused, looking at specific academic skills in-depth as well as areas of processing that underlie academic abilities. There is a clear overlap with neuropsychological testing in that the student’s cognitive skills, processing, memory, etc. will be measured. Social/emotional functioning is also assessed, usually with checklists or interviews.

The comprehensive evaluations we perform at LACIA resemble a neuropsychological assessment in terms of very thorough testing in multiple cognitive, processing, and academic areas. However, what makes our evaluations comprehensive is the full battery of personality and social/emotional testing that we perform, as well as our ability to integrate what we know about a student’s processing with their social/emotional functioning. For example, a student might have a mild problem calling up math facts, but in an anxiety-provoking testing situation such as a “minute-math challenge”, the added stress and fight-or-flight response will exacerbate that mild issue and render the student completely unable to remember information that they knew inside-and-out the night before.