Cognitive Assessment

Why Do Assessment Reports Exist at All?

Think of the time and effort we could save if we simply did our assessments, gathered the relevant parties, and then had an engaging conversation about our findings. Why not let an automated transcript of the conversation serve as the permanent record of the assessment? Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. Even if the practice were feasible, it fundamentally misunderstands the nature of an assessment report.

What a hammer does for the fist, what pliers do for the grip, what a telescope does for the eye, writing does for the mind. Unaided, the mind can contemplate solutions to complex problems, but attention wanders and memories fade. Writing not only preserves our thoughts but also sharpens our thinking. By sequencing sound on durable paper, we can contemplate the products of our own minds from a higher vantage— and with a steady gaze. Our words, now external objects, can be revised, reshaped, refined, reorganized, and most important, revisited. As Susan Sontag (2000) observed, “what I write is smarter than I am. Because I can rewrite it.”

Think of writing not as a way to transmit a message but as a way to grow and cook a message. Writing is a way to end up thinking something you couldn’t have started out thinking. —Peter Elbow (1998, p. 15)

Excerpt from p. 30 of Schneider, W. J., Lichtenberger, E. O, Mather, N., & Kaufman, N. L. (2018). Essentials of Assessment Report Writing (2nd ed). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

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3 thoughts on “Why Do Assessment Reports Exist at All?

  1. I agree, but do you think we need to share so much of our thinking? Lately I’ve spent the majority of my time crafting a succinct ‘in a nutshell’ paragraph (or two) to try to sum up my theory of the case and recommendations. It’s a labor but I think that once I’ve cracked it (sorry/not sorry for over working the metaphor) I feel like the rest of the report is really superfluous. Aside from reporting the scores and perhaps more detail to the recommended next steps. I feel done. Yet convention dictates we spell out detail of background, score analysis etc. What could we as a profession gain by just reporting the nutshell? What could our clients and schools gain by getting a quick sharp understanding that allows them to get started on the real work? And why do I feel so insecure about just making that leap?

    • Rodrigo Enciso says:

      Because you would be going against the grain, that’s why. I feel the same way and I just took that leap this year. Feels soooo good. I recomend it.

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