Many students do not receive the mental health and educational services they require. Whether it is due to circumstance, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, or a lack of services in their area, these “service gaps” result in real limitations for students. For example, it s well-known that many disorders can be effectively resolved with early identification and intervention.
Online psychoeducational assessments have the potential to be part of the solution to the service gap. This technology greatly improves access to qualified professionals and the mental health services they provide.
It is encouraging to know that online psychological and learning tools have enjoyed a measured and stepwise approach to use. Secure, internet-based testing systems – fully customisable – have long been widely used, particularly in employee recruitment and health.
The same tools and technology were next used by universities and colleges for online learning and examinations. Primary and secondary schools followed suit, using standardised online assessments to gauge student learning. Research has shown that both students and teachers prefer online testing tools to old “pencil-and-paper” exams.
For individuals seeking therapy online, the results have been similarly positive. E-therapy clients are predominantly satisfied with what the service provides, with communication and connection generally unaffected by the medium. Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has been shown to remain especially effective online, especially when treating mood anxiety disorders. As such, the observational data necessary for psychoeducational assessments is believed to be very adequately provided for through online means.
Although Educational Psychologists remain cautious about remote online administration of psychoeducational assessments, preliminary research supports that this mode of delivery produces valid results.
The following are important and necessary considerations when administering online assessments. A fully integrated online assessment service will ensure that all these items are fully addressed:
This important “test guide” should have an understanding of the process. Their training should include test-specific tips on how to enhance administration effectiveness to increase the overall validity of findings.
Test security should always be observed. Materials should be kept in a lockable cabinet.
A computer with a webcam and a headset are necessary to adhere to standard modes of delivery best supported by research. Test developers also stipulate that certain tools (e.g. WISC-V) can only be administered remotely via specific platforms (e.g. Q-Interactive).
Student need is undoubtedly high and access to services across English-medium international schools remains low. Fortunately, in the face of this service gap, there is scope for the ethical and valid provision of online assessments post-pandemic. Practitioners and school psychologists should proceed with due care and diligence to ensure the validity of test findings.
The BFDC Assessment Department is a leader in Online Assessments. Contact the BFDC for further information.