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Writing Useful, Accessible, and Legally Defensible Psychoeducational Reports by Michael Hass, Jeanne Anne Carriere

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Chapter 3How Do I Make My Reports More Useful to Consumers?

In Chapter 2 we reviewed the legal mandates for reports and evaluations. In Chapter 3, we focus on the concept of usefulness, including why focusing on making our reports more useful should be a major goal of our writing. We will outline our recommendations for how to make reports more useful for consumers, specifically parents and teachers. In doing this, we build on the research literature touched on in Chapter 1 as well the ethical standards of our profession. As a reminder, thus far we have highlighted that our reports should address specific referral concerns and help those who work with children to do their jobs better. In essence, useful reports support these two themes.

Research indicates that consumers characterize useful psychoeducational reports as clear and understandable. For example, understandable reports communicate assessment data using language that is easily understood by the consumer (Harvey, 1997, 2006; Rafoth & Richmond, 1983; Weddig, 1984). Useful reports also clearly answer the referral questions, focus on strengths as well as needs, and provide concrete and feasible recommendations for educational planning (Brenner, 2003; Cornwall, 1990; Eberst & Genshaft, 1984; Teglasi, 1983; Wiener, 1985, 1987; Wiener & Kohler, 1986).

These assumptions of report accessibility and usefulness are reflected in the ethical guidelines of both national school psychology professional organizations. NASP’s Principles ...

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