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What are the characteristics of a high quality forensic evaluation report?

Organization and Style

  • Uses language that minimizes the potential for bias or the appearance of gratuitous evaluative judgments.
  • Uses language that will be understood by non-clinicians, taking care to simplify complex concepts and professional technical terms.
  • Attending to professional appearance of the document, avoiding typographical errors, incomplete sentences, and colloquialisms.
  • Data Reporting

    • Obtaining and reporting all data that would be important when addressing the referral question.
    • Reporting only those data that are relevant for the forensic referral question.
    • Clearly identifying the sources of various data as the data are described.
    • Avoiding the inclusion of self-incriminating data in pre-trial reports of evaluations involving defendants with open criminal charges.
    • Including multiple sources of data, whenever possible, when describing events, behaviors, and examinee attributes.
    • Report efforts to obtain data that ultimately were not obtained and may have been relevant for the case.

    Psychological Test Reporting (Data and Interpretations)

    • When psychological test data are obtained from past records, only those data that are relevant for addressing the clinical or forensic questions in the case are reported.
    • Employing psychological tests based on appropriateness for addressing the forensic and clinical referral questions.
    • When reporting test data, identifying scores and offer explanations of their normative meaning, but not describing them as attributes of the examinee.
    • Offering interpretations of tests only when the test is appropriate for the circumstances (e.g., examinee age and race; validity demonstrated in the forensic context in question).
    • Scoring and interpreting psychological tests accurately and consistent with their empirical limits and values.

    Interpretations and Opinions

    • Addressing the forensic question that was asked in the referral process.
    • Addressing only the clinical and forensic questions that were asked in the referral process.
    • Providing a clear explanation for every important opinion or conclusion that is offered, summarizing the relevant data and how they logically support the opinion.
    • Identifying alternative interpretations that might be considered, and explaining how the data were used to weigh these interpretations against the opinion you are offering.
    • Describing any important ways in which the data or interpretations leave room for error or alternative interpretations against the opinion being offered.
    • Producing interpretations and opinions that are logical and internally consistent (not contradictory).
    • Using multiple sources of data to seek support for a hypothesis.
    • When opinions or recommendations require specialized knowledge (e.g., medical conditions or their treatment), expressing opinions only on matters for which the evaluator is qualified and competent.
    • When using examinee self-reported data as a basis for an opinion, offering the opinion only when other reasonably reliable sources of data offer corroborative or logically consistent support.

    (Open Access Journal of Forensic Psychology, – 2010.2: 102-115, Guidance for Improving Forensic Reports: A Review of Common Errors, Thomas Grisso, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA)

What is PTC’s Neuropsychological and Psychoeducational Testing Service?

  • We provide comprehensive psychological, psychoeducational, and neuropsychological assessments, as well as special education advocacy services for children and adolescents. Our assessments can help identify the nature and extent of many learning, behavioral, and emotional problems. Our special education advocates can work with you and your school to ensure that your child receives the school-based services they need to be successful.

When is a neuropsychological and psychoeducational testing evaluation needed?

  • Psychological, psychoeducational and neuropsychological testing is useful when children have difficulties learning or when they struggle with behavioral, emotional or social issues.

What questions can be answered by a neuropsychological and psychoeducational testing evaluation?

  • Does the student have significant cognitive deficits? Are there memory or thought process impairments? How much have they actually achieved academically? Are they capable of doing better?

How can neuropsychological and psychoeducational testing assist older students who are transitioning to high school or college?

  • Psychological Testing Consultants supports families in identifying placements following testing. Usually it is our advocate or the family’s attorney that takes the lead role in exploring placement options. We also conduct comparative special education program evaluations to assist families and 3rd party payers in making the final decision on a placement.
  • Our evaluations also assist older adolescents with high school to college transition planning as well as eligibility determination for educational accommodations and disability services. Finally, we also provide evaluations for Nonstandard Testing Accommodations (NTA) for college placement examinations, graduate and professional school entrance examinations, and state licensing examinations.

What questions can advocates answer?

  • Are your child’s unique needs fully understood from both a clinical and educational perspective? Is your school doing all it should to meet those needs? What legal rights do you and your child have? How do you exercise those rights? What must you do to make sure your child receives all the educational support to which they are entitled?

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