Shivat Zion

Developmental & Educational Assessments

Ivchunim
אבחונים
Last updated: 22.05.2023
The above guide was created based on information compiled for Get Help Israel by Lisa Kainan, Ph.D Psychoeducational Consultant and Alyson Aviv, 
Ph.D., ABPdN Clinical Psychologist, Board Certified in Pediatric Neuropsychology
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If your child has been referred for assessment, it is important that you know what kind of assessment will best serve your child’s needs and the qualifications of the person best able to conduct such an assessment.

Ivchunim or broad based developmental and educational assessments may be initiated due to school and/or parental concerns about a child’s cognitive functioning, learning, attention, emotional functioning and/or behavior at school and or at home.
Broad based assessments will examine your child’s cognitive, learning, and psychological strengths and weaknesses such as:

  • The ability to think abstractly
  • Receptive and expressive language skills
  • General knowledge
  • Short term and long term memory
  • Verbal and visual learning
  • Attention
  • Processing speed
  • Fine motor skills
  • Academic skills such as reading, writing and mathematics
  • Executive function skills such as attention, planning and organization.

Psychological and emotional factors like motivation, emotional development, self-regulation, and self-esteem also play a large role in learning and succeeding in school and will most often also be carefully examined.

In addition, most assessments will review relevant background information and information from collateral sources (e.g. parents and teachers). These types of assessments will give you the most in-depth information allowing for comprehensive treatment planning, intervention, and accommodations (such as testing accommodations) that are designed to help your child overcome and/or bypass difficulties.

Different childhood disorders result in specific patterns of strengths and weaknesses. An in-depth assessment will assure careful differential diagnosis. For example if a child’s language delay is due to a problem in producing speech, understanding or expressing language, social shyness, autism, or cognitive delay.

Specific to children of Olim and returning residents is the language of evaluation. Children should always be tested in their stronger language with bilingual components such as Hebrew reading, writing and language skills.

In general it takes children 5-7 years for full academic language competency after changing instructional language. Do not accept cognitive assessments in Hebrew alone as an adequate representation of your child’s abilities unless this makes sense for your child. Bilingual assessment is not the norm in Israel and may not be available in the city in which you live. These assessments are best conducted by highly qualified bilingual psychologists.

Generally psychologists conducting broad based assessments can also act as your advocate in the school system. Having an advocate attend a school meeting following an assessment will usually facilitate greater cooperation from the school and will ensure that your child’s rights are adequately considered.

An Ivchun Didacti (אבחון דידקטי) didactic educational assessment, is an evaluation that focuses on specific academic skills such as reading and writing, and the underlying mechanisms responsible for difficulties in these areas.
A psychological evaluation usually focuses on the emotional state of the learner, and often includes an IQ test to measure basic cognitive functions and then a variety of projective tests to assess psychological status. This type of evaluation may be recommended when the child experiences a sudden drop in achievement, for example as a result of a particular event or developmental stage.

Children under school-age are usually evaluated by developmental psychologists, or clinical neuropsychologists. These services can often be obtained through your child’s Gan (גן ) pre-Kindergarten or through municipal services. However, private broad-based developmental assessments conducted by a bilingual psychologist are likely to be best for the primarily non-Hebrew speaking child, or for children with complex developmental histories.

Purpose of Assessments at Each Educational Stage

  • Placement in a Gan Tipuli (גן טיפולי) therapeutic pre-kindergarten setting
  • Recommendation for a therapeutic preschool teacher within the framework of a regular kindergarten.
  • Decision whether a child should repeat preschool or kindergarten
  • Provision of remedial services and/or Shaot Shiluv (שעות שילוב ) small group learning hours
  • Recommendations for testing accommodation.
  • Therapeutic recommendations for the child, classroom and the family
  • Recommendation for transfer to Chinuch MeYuchad (חינוך מיוחד) the special education system
  • Recommendations for supplemental interventions
  • Test accommodations require that the evaluation assesses educational functioning, and also require the approval of the school guidance counselor.

Common Hat’amot (התאמות) accommodations include:

  • Extra time on tests (usually 25%),
  • Hakra’a (הקראה) reading the test questions orally
  • Hachtava (הכתבה) dictation to a scribe
  • Ignoring spelling errors
  • Use of an extended math formula sheet and more.

It is important to note that occasionally these accommodations can also be arranged by the school Yoetzet on the basis of teacher recommendation, without need for a formal assessment (it is important to discuss this fully with the Yoetzet).

  • Additional leniencies may require approval from the Ministry of Education, i.e. Mivchan Mut’am (מבחן מותאם) adapted test or Mivchan Ba’al Peh (מבחן בעל פה) oral test which are  not covered by the Ivchun Didacti.
  • Therapeutic recommendations for the child, classroom and the family
  • Recommendations for supplemental interventions

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Pediatric psychologists and neuropsychologists comprehend typical and atypical child development and learning. As children encounter progressively heightened cognitive and scholastic requirements as time goes on, there is frequently a necessity for conducting regular re-evaluations. Certain conditions might not manifest their complete repercussions until later stages, as observed with the multitasking requirements of middle school or the amplified workload and writing expectations of high school.

 

Although the Israeli ministry of education considers an assessment valid for 5 years, most psychologists would agree that a 3 year span is probably the longest span to leave between assessments, especially for children with complex presentations and who need updated interventions and accommodations to optimize their functioning.

Focused reassessment can also be helpful in determining whether a particular intervention is having the desired effect. For example, if a dyslexic child has been receiving intensive reading intervention, assessment of their reading skills after 12 months will help render a decision as to whether to continue, discontinue or replace the particular reading approach.

  1. If your child takes medication, make sure that you have discussed this with the examiner if it has been taken/not taken accordingly on the day of testing.
  2. If your child’s physical condition or emotional state is somehow compromised on the day of testing, inform the examiner. For example: feeling under the weather; taking medication that would make one drowsy; a poor night’s sleep prior; a death in the family, etc. These types of things can affect performance on some of the tests used for psychological evaluations and in general testing should be postponed.
  3. Make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep prior to testing. Being sleepy during testing can affect overall concentration on timed tasks in particular.
  4. Make sure your child is not hungry or thirsty before testing. Your child should bring a snack if testing is going to last for a prolonged period of time.
  5. Make sure your child is comfortable asking for and taking breaks as needed. Testing can feel tiresome. Breaks are a good time to eat a snack, use the restroom, or jump on the exercise ball.
  6. Make sure that your child’s assessment is scheduled at the right time of day. For preschool and school age children this is typically in the morning. Adolescents generally do better mid-morning early afternoon (provided they have not been in school earlier in the day). If children have been at school, they will likely not be able to show their optimal abilities.

Many children may wonder why they are having these tests and if there is something wrong with them. Listen to your child’s concerns and feelings about the evaluation and answer as straightforwardly as possible. It is helpful to be reassuring to your child. Proper preparation will help your child do his/her best, allow for a pleasant testing experience and help the examiner gather the most reliable results possible.

Most importantly, the goal in preparation is to help your child be as comfortable, relaxed and motivated as possible the day of testing. In explaining to your child why he/she is being tested you should offer reassurance that the information gathered from the evaluation will help you, their teachers, and others better understand his/her experiences, what kinds of things he/she has been having trouble with and what types of things he or she is really good or not so good at doing, and most importantly whether there are interventions and accommodations to help them. It is important to explain that assessment is not unusual.

Each school will offer different resources, depending upon their budget and need. It’s best to verify with a specific school regarding test accommodations, whether or not they allocate hours in the schedule for professional assistance, and if so what it includes: one-on-one help with a professional Hebrew teacher, help in small groups, help from volunteers, etc. If possible, it is best to talk to other Olim parents in the school concerning their experience.

It is always best to verify with the school guidance counselor, especially in schools which are unaccustomed to Olim children. You may have to do some advocacy on your child’s behalf.

Click here to find a verified assessment specialist.

Some Additional Resources

Know your rights! Entitlements and Services for Children suffering from Developmental Disorders (Israeli Ministry of Health) https://www.health.gov.il/English/Topics/KidsAndMatures/child_development/Pages/child-development-rights.aspx

The law in Israel concerning the Assessment and Treatment of ADHD (Israeli Ministry of Health) https://www.health.gov.il/English/Topics/KidsAndMatures/child_development/Pages/ADHD.aspx

https://www.health.gov.il/English/Topics/KidsAndMatures/child_development/Autism/Pages/default.aspx