Each year, large numbers of students who are identified as having academic and focusing difficulties are referred for tutoring. While some of these students have received some kind of evaluation, many have not. Moreover, those who have been evaluated through the public schools often come with testing that is minimal at best. For example, important aspects of working memory and executive functioning are not assessed. Yet, a thorough understanding of how each student learns is a necessity if tutors are to develop a successful plan to remediate educational disabilities.
The formula is simple: understanding via a comprehensive evaluation drives tutoring for younger as well as older children. In the case of college-bound students, preparation for SAT tutoring should also include a thorough evaluation. This is because SAT tutors are, for the most part, experts in a content area and the test taking skills necessary to score highly on the College Board exam. They may need some input in how to deliver this tutoring in ways that are congruent with learning disabled students’ processing styles. Testing can help to inform the SAT tutor how to go about reaching these students. In fact, many SAT tutors have referred students to me when their tutoring does not “take,” asking what is interfering with students acquiring the skills being taught and how to present them in ways that students can digest.
Similarly, the increase in the use of private college advisors by LD/ADD students necessitates that these professionals not only intimately know the colleges and the kinds of supports services offered, but also the specific accommodations each student requires. This is a major concern for parents of LD/ADD students where the stakes are higher in terms of finding the “right” college. For these students, the presence of appropriate supports can make the difference between staying afloat at college or burning and crashing. Here, too, the advice, which is not only limited to choosing the correct school, but also the most appropriate academic course schedule needs to be driven by an evaluation that identifies students’ needs and the critical accommodations they require once at college. Moreover, the evaluation should be undertaken by a professional who will be available to monitor the progress of the recommendations made and be able to tweak them when necessary. In other words, the completion of the testing is only the first step in helping students. When a problem arises, professionals need to be able to direct those at college supporting students as to how to better help them to overcome any obstacles they encounter re: their learning difficulties.