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Learning Evaluations for Children

A multidisciplinary evaluation is designed for school-age children for whom both language and/or learning issues may be affecting academic performance or daily functioning. This assessment includes evaluation of multiple areas including:

  1. Speech and Language (i.e., articulation, word finding, fluency, listening/speaking)
  2. Psychoeducational Evaluation:
    • Intellectual ability (i.e., IQ)
    • Academic achievement: Basic reading skills (word reading/decoding), reading fluency, reading comprehension, written expression (spelling, grammar, formulation), math calculation, math problem solving (word problems, reasoning)
    • Cognitive processing (e.g., attention, auditory memory, phonemic awareness, visual sequencing, perception of spatial relationships, etc.)
    • Reasoning and executive functioning (i.e., problem-solving and planning)

The testing takes place over three days (see the Schedule tab, below), including an initial parent interview and a final conference. Following the evaluation, a written report is provided detailing the findings of the assessment. A comprehensive list of recommendations is included with each report.


DAY 1: Monday from 9:00am to 3:00pm (5 hours)

  • testing from 9-11:30
  • audiological screening from 11:30-12:00 (optional–separate cost)
  • lunch break from 12-1
  • testing from 1-3
  • parent interview in the afternoon (during testing)

DAY 2: Tuesday from 9:00am to 12:00pm (3 hours)

  • speech and language testing

DAY 3: Thursday from 9:00am to 12:00pm (3 hours)

  • testing from 9-12
  • parent conference at 2:00pm (your child does not need to return after noon)
  • payment is made at the time of the conference

Intake Process

To schedule an evaluation:

Parents contact Northwestern: Contact us at 847-491-3165 or to begin the intake process.  Dr. Frank Van Santen will contact the parents to discuss their concerns and answer questions about the evaluation.

Parents complete/send an application: before we schedule an appointment, it is necessary for us to have some background about the nature of the concerns, as well as some deveopmental and academic history to help us plan our evaluation. Thus, parents complete and send us an application, along with copies of any other relevant materials (e.g., report cards, previous testing reports, IEPs, etc.).

Northwestern review of application materials: Once we have the application materials, they are reviewed to ensure that the evaluation meets the parents’ needs. If it is not, referral to another agency or clinic can be provided.

Contact and schedule: Parents are contacted to schedule the appointment. We usually have a waiting list that is approximately six-to-eight weeks long.


1. Who is conducting the evaluation?
The Multidisciplinary team is composed of a clinical psychologist, speech-language pathologist, and an audiologist. Because this is a teaching center, there may be graduate students who are involved in some of the assessment; however, they are observed by supervisors at all times, and they have received extensive instruction from licensed clinical supervisors prior to their participation in the evaluation.

2. Is the Multidisciplinary evaluation team considered to be an Independent Evaluator?
Although we meet Illinois criteria (226.180) to be an Independent Evaluator (“a qualified examiner who is not employed by the public agency responsible for the education of the child in question.”), we are not listed in the Illinois Independent Evaluators Registry. Parents should not assume that a school district will pay for the cost of testing unless an agreement with the school has been made prior to our evaluation.

3. How should we prepare for our visit to NUCASLL-CHILD?

  • It is important to tell your son or daughter about coming to the Center at Northwestern University ahead of time. They should be told at least a week before the scheduled appointment. Often, when children are not informed before coming to our Center, they are understandably nervous and disoriented (even scared) when they arrive, because they were not expecting this change in their schedule and they don’t know what to expect.
  • You may want to tell your child that the purpose of the visit to the Center is to discover his / her strengths and weaknesses so that they can use their strengths to improve their weaknesses and make school easier for them. Example:
    The job of the people at the Northwestern University Center is to figure out what things might be harder for you, and what things are easier for you. They do this so that they can help make school (or reading, or math, or writing, or whatever is harder for your child) easier for you. Since everyone has things that are hard for them and things that are easy, they work with really young kids – as young as four years old – and adults, in order to help them improve their skills.
  • You can also tell your son / daughter that the Center at Northwestern University is a school, and that our students are learning to work with all kinds of children. Since our students are learning to administer different kinds of tests, they need to experience doing this with many different kinds of children, including girls, boys, younger children, older children, kids who are strong readers, kids who have difficulty reading, etc. Your child’s job, therefore, will be to help the instructors at Northwestern teach people who are learning to be teachers by trying their best on all different kinds of tasks. These will include activities that are like school (e.g., reading, spelling, or solving math problems), as well as tasks that aren’t like school at all (e.g., solving puzzles, telling stories, or describing pictures).
  • Make sure your son / daughter has a good night’s sleep before each day of testing.
  • They should also have had a good breakfast before they reach the clinic. It is a good idea to give them snacks that they can have during the evaluation.
  • If they normally take medication on a daily basis, they should take that medication on both days of the evaluation.
  • If they wear glasses or hearing aids, please have them available during testing.
  • Make a plan for how you and your child will be spending your lunch time together, which will be for one hour on Monday. This is particularly important for younger children, who will probably be tired and looking forward to a long break. It can also be helpful to pack snacks for each day.
  • The temperature of the clinic rooms can vary, and it is important that your child is physically comfortable during the evaluation. Therefore, it may be helpful to have a sweater or sweatshirt available that he or she can put on if they are cold.

4. Do we (parents) need to be present (on the premises) during the entire evaluation?
Yes. It is important for someone to be present during the evaluation so that the child has someone to take breaks / have lunch with or if there is an emergency. It can also be reassuring to the child if he/she knows that a parent is in the nearby waiting room.

5. Do we (parents) need to be present during the interview or feedback conference?
Yes. Often, only one parent is able to make it to the feedback conference, and if needed, we can set up a phone conference to allow others to participate in the conference.

6. How long is the feedback conference?
Feedback conferences generally last between one and two hours, depending on the complexity of the results and the needs of the family.

7. When will I get the report?
The report will be sent to you approximately six weeks after testing.

8. What are the procedure codes I need to share with my insurance company?
– 92523-52: Language Evaluation (NOT included in the adult evaluation)
– 96101: Psychological Testing
– 96118: Neuropsychological Testing

Note: There is no procedure code for the Academic Testing portion of the evaluation, and it is not covered by insurance.