I sat down to begin
drafting an IEP and discovered that a student’s “current” assessments were pushing
three years old. Obviously, a lot can change in three years. In the past, I’ve
scrounged around in my filing cabinet and found some type of assessment I felt
was appropriate, completed it, and added it in without giving it much more
thought; definitely not the best way to approach the very important task of
assessing a student.
This year, I decided to
improve in this area. I took the time one afternoon to go through the
assessment tools I had gathered from various workshops and inherited from
teachers before me. I’d previously organized them all in my filing cabinet but
had not taken the time to really study them. After going through, I realized how
valuable these assessments really are. I kept coming across areas that I know
my students need work in; simply reading through the assessments helped me see
areas of need I had not considered before.
Also, I have sometimes
struggled in the past to clearly describe the skill I want to work on with a
student in an IEP objective. I know in my mind what the skills is and looks
like, but have difficulty operationally defining it. The great thing I
discovered is that many of the assessments did an excellent job of describing
these “hard to put into words” skills.
After thorough review
of all the tools available, I decided to develop an “assessment packet” to use
with each of my students. I wanted the packet to cover the big areas:
academics, behavior, and pre-vocational skills. I also needed these assessments
to be fairly easy to complete, simple enough to explain to parents and other
IEP team members, and useful in pointing me toward possible IEP goals and/or
These are the assessments
that made the cut for my packet:
- Strategies for Teaching
Based on Autism Research Student Learning Profile: This assessment is a
tool provided in a curriculum purchased by my school district over a year ago. It
is rooted in Applied Behavior Analysis and covers the following areas:
receptive and expressive language, functional routines, pre-academic and
academic concepts, and social interaction concepts. I complete this at the beginning of every
school year on each of my students. I mainly rely on this tool as an academic
assessment since it covers the basic reading and math skills needed to progress
further in either area (i.e., letter recognition, basic phonetic knowledge,
counting skills, simple addition/subtraction).
- Moby Math
Placement Test: Moby Math is another
curriculum resource my school district subscribed to over a year ago. I didn’t
explore it very much until this year, however, and I wish I’d done so much
sooner. It begins with a placement test which gives a grade level equivalency for
each student’s math skills. I really like this because I’ve found many parents
relate better to hearing “your child is on a ____ grade math level” as opposed
to an explanation about the math skills they do or do not have mastered.
- Behavior Skills Checklist: This assessment was actually created by the
behavior specialist in my school district. It includes twenty-seven behavior
skills considered important for appropriate school behavior by teachers and
other school personnel (i.e., expresses opinions and resolves disagreements in
an appropriate manner; participation in class discussions in ways not
disruptive to the class). Each skill is marked as “satisfactory,” “needs to
improve,” or “much improvement needed.” A percentage for each classification is then calculated. This assessment
is especially great for developing IEP goals and/or objectives related to
behavior and social skills.
- Learning Skills Checklist: I got my hands on
this assessment at a teacher training I attended last year. It covers skills
and behaviors essential for learning, such as understanding the concept of
“finished,” working independently, and understanding rewards as consequence of
work. For each skill, detailed descriptions are provided to help me determine
if a student does or does not have this skill or is in the emergent stages.
- Tennessee Pre-vocational Skills Checklist: This
is one of my absolute favorites! It’s used by the majority of special education
teachers in my district. As the name suggests, it focuses on pre-vocational (or
what I like to call “grown-up”) skills (following one- and two-step directions,
identifying common abbreviations, completing work tasks independently, filling
out forms, etc). Each skill is marked as
“mastered” or “not mastered,” which definitely keeps it simple to complete and
explain to others. The majority of my pre-vocational goals for my students come
directly from this assessment.
- School Adaptive Behavior Observation: This
assessment asks for the target student to be compared with a typically
developing peer of the same age or grade in the following skill areas:
educational behavior, social development, communication,
pre-vocational/vocational, and self-help. If the student’s behavior is
consistent with a peer, “yes” is marked; if not, “no” is marked. There is also available space for describing
the student’s present behavior. This tool is helpful for pinpointing areas of
adaptive behavior that, if improved upon, could enable students to be more
successful in inclusive school and community environments.
I’ve used my packet twice since
putting it together and feel like it gives me a solid place to start when
developing goals and/or objectives and planning for my kids. I’m sure the
contents will change over time, but it seems to be meeting my needs for now.
The week I compiled it, I actually had one of the elementary special education
teachers from my district call and ask what assessments I used for my students.
I was so relieved to have a definite answer for her instead of an “uhhh…let
me get back to you on that”!
Do you have a similar set of assessments
for your students? What assessments have you found most valuable? What might
need to be adapted in my assessment packet?