A Closer Look

Oral Reporting of Assessment Results for Maximum Impact

Curious to learn more? Check out Dr. Lichtenstein's related webinar in the Online Learning Center!

I was asked to provide some reflections on the topic of my October 2021 webinar for NASP, “Oral Reporting of Assessment Results for Maximum Impact.” This webinar emphasized the importance of oral reporting (especially relative to the written report) and provided a rationale, guidelines, strategies, and examples for delivering useful and effective feedback using a consumer-responsive approach.

I think the case for a consumer-responsive approach to assessment, which is predicated on yielding better outcomes for children and families, is clear. Virginia Harvey proposed this more than 15 years ago:

"… psychologists can better meet the informational needs of a highly varied audience by increasingly involving the client or the child, parents, and teachers as collaborators in the assessment and report writing process. Involving parents and clients requires an investment of time, training in such involvement, and a willingness to abandon the expert role for a collaborative and respectful role on the part of psychologists. To fulfill their ultimate purpose—improving client functioning by influencing both current and future programming—psychological reports must be responsive, persuasive, communicative, and embedded in the consultation process." (Harvey, 2006, p. 16)

Less self-evident, however, is how essential it is to follow up with key parties as a routine component of the assessment process. It’s the only sure way to apply evidence-based practice to your assessment conclusions. By following up, you are in effect conducting an N = 1 case study as to whether recommended interventions are effective. In fact, just advising the participants at the IEP team assessment feedback meeting of the follow-up plan may motivate them to follow through on agreed-upon courses of action, knowing that you’ll be monitoring the situation.

I was struck by the question posed during the webinar’s Q&A session: “Is it really necessary to routinely follow up on every assessment case? Might you be selective about which cases really need the follow up?” Rather than answer with a blunt, “Yes, it’s really necessary,” I responded by suggesting that case-by-case selectivity might be more productively applied to written reports. It isn’t necessary—and even may be counterproductive—to write an elaborate, time-consuming report for every assessment case. Your garden variety, noncontroversial reevaluation could be effectively addressed with a brief report consisting of a summary and conclusions page plus a data summary, then followed up with a standard phone interview six weeks after the IEP team meeting. (A sample protocol for the follow-up interview, from Lichtenstein and Ecker [2019], was provided for this webinar, with permission from Guilford.)

What really surprised me during the webinar was the response to the instant poll question about report-writing time. Of the estimated 165 participants responding, only 11% indicated that they typically require between 3 and 5 hours to write a report. The rest were evenly divided between taking less than 3 hours and taking more than 5 hours. Evidently, writing time varies considerably—as it should. But it would be best if the variations in report-writing practices were systematic and strategic. I will elaborate on this notion in a spring 2022 article in Communiqué.


Harvey, V. S. (2006). Variables affecting the clarity of psychological reports. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 62, 5-18.

Lichtenstein, R., & Ecker, B. (2019). High-impact assessment reports for children and adolescents: A consumer-responsive approach. Guilford.


About the Author

Bob Lichtenstein, PhD, NCSP
Bob Lichtenstein, PhD, NCSP, is a frequent contributor to Communiqué and co-author of High-Impact Assessment Reports for Children and Adolescents. He draws upon his experience as a practitioner, trainer, administrator, and researcher. He has served as a school psychologist at all grade levels, as the supervisor of school psychological services for the New Haven Public Schools, as director of training for the Medical-Educational Evaluation Clinic at North Shore Children’s Hospital in Salem, MA, and as the school psychology consultant for the Connecticut State Department of Education. Dr. Lichtenstein established the school psychology programs at the University of Delaware and the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. He is a recipient of the Presidential Award from the National Association of School Psychologists and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Massachusetts School Psychologists Association.