kira christensen

Licensed Educational Psychologist

Kira Christensen is a Licensed Educational Psychologist in Sacramento, CA.  She specializes in educational assessment of students from elementary school through high school and college, including adult students.  Kira determines the presence of intellectual disabilities and learning disabilities, including dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia, as well as the presence of memory, attention, and social emotional and behavioral problems impeding learning, such as anxiety, depression, and ADHD.  She works with students in the greater Sacramento area.

CAN I TAKE THE ASSESSMENT REPORT TO MY CHILD’S SCHOOL?

Yes, if you choose, you can share the report with your child’s school.  The completed diagnostic assessment is comprehensive, and test scores and implications for your child are clearly explained. Any possible areas of suspected disability, along with how the assessment data aligns with special education eligibility criteria or considerations for section 504 eligibility and diagnostic criteria will clearly be outlined in the report as appropriate.

CAN THE ASSESSMENT BE UTILIZED TO REQUEST ACCOMMODATIONS WITH THE COLLEGE BOARD, OR DIRECTLY TO MY COLLEGE?

Yes, the completed assessment report can be utilized for submission to the College Board when requesting accommodations (such as extended time or breaks, use of a calculator, computer or having the test read to the student, etc.) for the SAT or ACT, AP exams.  

College courses can sometimes highlight learning challenges that perhaps were not as evident in the traditional school setting due to the increased rigor and independence present in college, and college students may be in need of accommodations such as extended time and testing in a reduced distraction environment, use of technology and alternative media (such as taped textbooks), recording of lectures, or adaptive computer technology.  The assessment report you will be given utilizes the current edition of recommended tests (using adult norms), and addresses all necessary criteria.

WHAT WILL THE ASSESSMENT COVER?

The evaluation will include cognitive and academic assessment, along with any pertinent areas of processing, attention, social, emotional or adaptive measures, as well as family, health and developmental and educational history and current progress.  Depending on the referral concerns, the diagnostic educational assessment can include assessment of the following areas:

  • Intellectual functioning – cognitive testing that covers many areas of processing, which also yields an IQ score
  • Academic skills as compared to other students in your child’s age group
    • Reading – Decoding, fluency, comprehension (Dyslexia)
    • Math – Basic math facts and math problems solving skills (Dyscalculia)
    • Writing – Spelling, grammar, sentence, paragraph and essay writing (Dysgraphia)
  • Memory abilities – Long term memory, short term and working memory
  • Processing abilities 
    • Visual processing
    • Auditory processing
    • Sensory motor skills –  fine motor, visual motor integration skills
    • Phonological processing
  • Processing Speed
  • Attention and Concentration (ADHD)
  • Executive Functioning
  • Social Emotional and Behavioral Functioning
  • Adaptive Functioning – self help skills, characteristics often associated with autism, and functional living skills

In addition, the report will include:

  • Developmental history and relevant background information, including educational history and current functioning.
  • If assessment data shows there is an area of deficit or disability, the report outlines clear statements of the existence of the disability and relevant educational diagnosis.
  • The extent of the functional limitations resulting from the disability.
  • Clear recommendations for accommodations the student would benefit from to increase educational progress.

WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT IF WE DECIDE TO DO THE ASSESSMENT?

BEFORE THE FIRST TEST SESSION:

You are the expert on your child! Therefore, parents will need to fill out questionnaires and rating scales that ask a variety of questions regarding your child’s academic, social, emotional and behavioral strengths and weaknesses.  Parents will also be asked to bring relevant work samples, report cards, and standardized test scores  for this meeting.  

TESTING

Testing will typically be conducted in two separate, 2-3 hour sessions. Sessions are always tailored to the individual student’s needs and age.  Occasionally a third session may be needed.  It is helpful to send a small snack and water bottle with your child to have during short breaks during the test sessions.  Teacher questionnaires and rating scales will also be provided for you to have your child's teacher(s) complete and return at the second test session.

REVIEW OF THE PSYCHOEDUCATIONAL REPORT

Provided that all school documents and parent and teacher forms have been returned, the written report is typically ready to present approximately two weeks after the final test session.  This meeting typically lasts 30 minutes, where the findings are reviewed, including strengths, weaknesses, and recommendations.

WHO TYPICALLY SEEKS AN ASSESSMENT?

CLIENTS TYPICALLY INCLUDE:

  • Elementary, Middle and High school students.  Public, private, charter or home school students often benefit from additional information about their learning and processing abilities.  Information on a student’s cognitive ability, processing abilities, attention, executive functioning, and social, emotional and adaptive behavior offers insight into their learning to maximize growth and progress.  The report you will be given includes clear explanation of all assessment data, including specific relevant recommendations that can be shared with your child’s school if you choose.
  • High School Students seeking accommodations for the SAT or ACT.  Assessment is often sought to determine if your student may benefit from accommodations on standardized tests such as AP tests, the SAT, ACT or NMSQT (such as extended time, use of a computer for writing tasks, extra and extended breaks, reading accommodations or use of a calculator). The assessment report you will be given utilizes the current edition of recommended tests and addresses all necessary criteria required by the College Board including appropriate psychoeducational diagnosis if your student exhibits these needs based upon assessment data.
  • College Students seeking accommodations in college courses:  Sometimes schools offer support and a student does fairly well until they graduate high school.  College courses can sometimes highlight learning challenges that perhaps were not as evident in the traditional school setting due to the increased rigor and independence present in college, and college students may be in need of accommodations such as extended time, testing in a reduced distraction environment, use of technology and alternative media (such as taped textbooks), recording of lectures, or adaptive computer technology.  The assessment report you will be given utilizes the current edition of recommended tests (using adult norms), and addresses all necessary criteria required, including appropriate psychoeducational diagnosis if your student exhibits these needs based upon assessment data.
  • Transition assessments – Transition out of the school system into adulthood brings new challenges, and students with disabilities often benefit from a detailed transition assessment that clearly outlines their strengths and weaknesses, documents their learning needs, as well as the type and intensity of supports needed in order to live as independently as possible.  
  • Adults – Many adults continue to pursue their education later in life, or simply need information on their vocational or educational strengths.  Some have always struggled in school and may feel there’s always been an underlying learning disability, or ADHD that impacts their learning.  
  • Students who have already been tested – Often parents requested and received an assessment from their public school system, and they simply would like a “second opinion” in the form of a new assessment.  At times, parents indicate a desire for another objective assessment outside of their school district for various reasons - perhaps their child was tested but did not qualify for special education services, or their child has an IEP and there could be new factors not previously assessed that are now impacting their education that they would like assessed.  Sometimes, consultation is simply needed to thoroughly explain an existing assessment, which may be adequate to address your student’s needs.  In such cases, additional assessment may not be warranted, and consultation can simply provide additional clarity on the existing assessment and provide suggestions for follow up steps based on the data.
  • Independent Educational Evaluations (IEE’s): IEE’s are conducted when there may be a disagreement between parents and school districts. The California Educational Code, section 56329(b), gives parents or guardians “the right to obtain, at public expense, an independent educational assessment of the pupil from a qualified specialist - if the parent or guardian disagrees with an assessment obtained by the public education agency.” This means parents can request such an assessment if they believe that an assessment that a public education agency conducted is inadequate or flawed at the expense of the school district.  Kira Christensen has extensive experience conducting comprehensive, legally defensible psychoeducational assessments, including not only typical assessments such as learning disabilities and other health impairments, but also difficult assessments involving students with numerous suspensions and pending expulsion proceedings, emotional issues and substance abuse, and complex learning issues.

LEGAL ISSUES AND CONSENT

As a health care provider and licensed educational psychologist in the State of California, Kira is required to follow the procedures of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) and California State Law.  During consultation, clients will be provided with a Service Agreement, which addresses issues of confidentiality, consent to evaluation/treatment, fees, and other important information. It will be important for clients to review this information and ask questions about any concerns.

LIMITS OF CONFIDENTIALITY

As a Licensed Educational Psychologist, Kira Christensen adheres to professional ethics and standards.  Information obtained is kept confidential except in instances where disclosure is required by law (for example, in instances of suspected abuse, potential harm toward self or others, or by subpoena or court order).   As students age 12 and older also have rights to consent in California, it is important that the student also understands the limits to confidentiality.

 

Content copyright protected. No material herein may be utilized without written, expressed consent by Kira Christensen.