Unit 3: Assessment in Special Education

Tutors:  Sandra Sikanku

                 Naa Korkor Appiah-larbi

ASSESSMENT IN SPECIAL EDUCATION

Meaning

McLoughlin and Lewis (1990), define assessment as “the systematic process of gathering educationally relevant information to make legal and instructional decisions about the provision of special services” (p.4).

Key Issues in the Definition

  • Assessment is a process;
  • It should be done systematically;
  • It gathers information that is educationally relevant; and
  • Information is used in making vital decisions.

Purpose of Assessment

  • Diagnose student/child’s needs;
  • Making judgment on the progress a child is making;
  • Providing feedback on incentives to child/student;
  • To facilitate decision on educational placement;
  • Plan and carry out instruction; and
  • Establish classroom equilibrium

Steps in the Assessment Process

  • Screening
  • Referral
  • Evaluation
  • Conferencing
  • Monitoring of progress
  • Programme evaluation

Principles of Assessment

  • Focus on Educational needs;
  • Assessment should be continuous;
  • It should be non-discriminatory;
  • It should be comprehensive and multidisciplinary;
  • The instruments should be technically adequate;
  • It should look beyond the child;
  • There should be proper recording and reporting.

Formal Assessment

It is the type of assessment where standard procedures are used to obtain information from individuals.

Its main purpose is to find out if some children have certain characteristics that are different from the peers.

Types of Formal Assessment

  • Standardised Achievement tests:  Assesses a student’s knowledge over a particular content and skill e.g. California achievement test; Test of Academic proficiency; Metropolitan achievement test.
  • Aptitude test
  • Intelligence test: e.g. Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WICR-III); Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale
  • Individual achievement test.

Types of Formal Assessment

  • Standardised Achievement tests:  Assesses a student’s knowledge over a particular content and skill e.g. California achievement test; Test of Academic proficiency; Metropolitan achievement test.
  • Aptitude test
  • Intelligence test: e.g. Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WICR-III); Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale
  • Individual achievement test

Characteristics of Formal Assessment

 

  • It has standard/uniform procedures for test administration;
  • It has the same procedure for scoring test;
  • It has the same procedures for interpreting test scores;
  • It most often deals with paper and pencil test;
  • It provides information that is reliable (i.e. dependable and trustworthy);
  • Its items can appropriately produce required information (i.e. it is valid); and
  • It reports scores in standard ways (e.g. percentile and grade equivalents).

Merits of Formal Assessment

 

  • It provides information about how a child fares in relation to the peers, hence the need to treat each child differently in the instructional process.
  • It yields trustworthy and dependable information. Hence, well-informed decisions can be made with the results since pictures of participants become genuine reflections.
  • It eases decisions on educational placement. The child is placed in an instructional environment that can best serve his/her needs.
  • It facilitates the process of selection since we know the strengths and weaknesses of each child.
  • It does not give room for subjectivity and biases since procedures for are standard and cannot be manipulated to favour a group of children.

Informal Assessment                     

  • It has the following characteristics:
  • It does not have strict procedures to be adhered to when it is being used;
  • It may or may not deal with paper and pencil test, hence the child is not bound to be present before the assessment can be done;
  • It has different ways/approaches for administering, scoring and interpreting the scores obtained in the assessment;
  • The information it provides may have less validity and reliability.

Merits of Informal Assessment

  • It samples specific areas of the curriculum instead of general ones, hence:
  • provides comprehensive information on the strengths and weaknesses of a child with regard to his/her mental, physical, social and emotional standing;
  • Assessors are able to identify the specific difficulties a child experiences.
  • It can be used anytime and at anywhere (e.g. classroom, school compound, playground etc).
  • It provides information that can be used to plan instructional programmes or make instructional decisions.

 

  • It helps teachers to have information on what to teach next, when to teach, how much to teach, and when to evaluate what is taught.
  • It can be used by both professionals and non-professionals; and
  • Its able to facilitate the assessment of all children, irrespective of the degree of their impairment/disability

Demerits of Informal Assessment

  • Results may not be trustworthy/reliable.
  • Cannot use the information to make decisions regarding classification/placement.
  • It is not possible to compare a child’s academic standing with his peers.
  • It does not follow any rigidly laid down procedures.  A situation such as this can create room for subjective tendencies.

Types of Informal Assessment

  • Observation
  • Interview
  • Work sample analysis
  • Task analysis
  • Criterion referenced test
  • Curriculum-based assessment
  • Portfolio assessment
  • Ecological assessment
  • Questionnaire
  • Checklist and Behaviour rating scale

Unit 3 Assignment

  1. Discuss five (5) purposes of assessment.
  2. Discuss four (4) principles of assessment.
  3. Differentiate between formal and informal assessment.

NB! Assignments must be typed in Times News Roman, font size 12, justified with page numbers and attached as a word document to sansikgh273@yahoocom.

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