To Test or Not to Test: The Pros and Cons of Remote and in-Person Testing During Covid

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To Test or Not to Test: The Pros and Cons of Remote and in-Person Testing During Covid

Like many other aspects of life during covid, the decision about whether to test, and, if so, whether to test remotely or in-person has raised many issues to consider. The following is a brief compilation/summary of these issues as discussed in the sources contained at the end of this narrative.

With regard to remote testing, although testing platforms have been opened by the publishing companies, the aggregation of guidance does not support it as it involves significant departures from the way the instruments were standardized. These considerations are in addition to issues relating to having adequate and stable technological resources, being unable to control environmental conditions in students’ homes, using parents or other adults as co-administrators or monitors, not having adequately trained professionals in telehealth assessment, safeguarding the security of testing materials, and more. The research that exists supporting tele-assessment as equivalent to in-person testing is, as one expert states, in its’ “nascent” stages.

While in-person testing diminishes some of these concerns, it presents different challenges. The requirements by regulatory agencies to safeguard the health of evaluators, students, and their families via the use of PPE (i.e. masks, face shields, plastic dividers)  and social distancing, the latter hard to do when testing, present unknown variables as to how these will influence the reliability and validity of the evaluation and the social emotional health of students who may experience discomfort to performing with these safety adaptations. Again, the instruments were not standardized with covid precautions in mind.

Taken together, the principle of informed consent must be extended to these special situations such that parents and other consumers of the results of remote and in-person evaluations must be made aware of the conditions under which testing was conducted and how they may influence the findings. One important consideration is whether the consumers of the test reports will be unhappy with the results and decide not to accept them given all of the above limitations with respect to insuring reliability and validity. Certainly, all of these considerations need to be discussed beforehand so that all stakeholders are informed and agree to going forward with the testing. In this regard, the Farmer et al. article about the dangers of testing with good intentions should be reviewed.


All of the guidance also points to the importance of whether testing needs to be conducted at all at this point of time or whether other information (i.e. functional data; previous testing; curriculum-based assessment) may be used to make determinations about eligibility for services or placement so that students are not denied their rights to appropriate supports. Where testing may be done without compromising the results as in the use of survey or online inventories, these are appropriate to utilize to gather needed data.

The original sources below should be reviewed carefully in making decisions about testing during the pandemic.

 

InterOrganizational Practice Committee Recommendations/Guidance for Teleneuropsychology (TeleNP) in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic (https://iopc.squarespace.com/hygiene-strategies),

Ryan L. Farmer,1Ryan J. McGill,2Stefan C. Dombrowski,3Nicholas F. Benson,4Stephanie Smith-Kellen,1Adam B. Lockwood,5Steven Powell,1Christina Pynn,1 and Terry A. Stinnett (2020). Conducting Psychoeducational Assessments During the COVID-19 Crisis: the Danger of Good Intentions. Contemp Sch Psychol. Jun 2 : 1–6.

Hiramoto, J. (2020). Mandated special education assessments during the COVID-19 shutdown (California Association of School Psychologists position paper). Retrieved from http://www.casponline.org

Luxton, D.D., Pruitt, L.D., and Osenbach, E. (2014).  Best Practices for Remote Psychological Assessment via Telehealth Technologies. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, Vol. 45, No. 1, 27–35;

American Psychological Association:

 https://www.apaservices.org/practice/clinic/covid-19-neuropsychological-psychological-testing, (https://www.apaservices.org/practice/reimbursement/health-codes/testing/psychological-telehealth),

New Jersey Association of School Psychologists:

(http://www.njasp.org/), including the Summer 2020 newsletter detailing testing concerns when conducting in-person assessments using covid adaptations.

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