Say School Assessments Do Not Provide
they can provide effective instruction, teachers need accurate, relevant
information about their students' abilities and levels of functioning.
Yet according to an article published by the Council for Exceptional
Children ("Assessments Fail to Give Teachers Relevant Information"
in CEC TODAY: Vol. 5 No. 4, November 1998), teachers often do not receive
relevant information from evaluations.
In some cases, teachers simply receive overall IQ scores or achievement
levels. In other cases, assessments do not provide teachers with relevant
information about their students' abilities and needs because the tests
used do not provide this information or because the evaluator limited
information by restricting the number of tests or subtests given.
Computerization also contributes to the failure to provide teachers
with relevant information. Instead of receiving the psychologist's or
educational diagnostician’s analysis of student achievement, learning
patterns, and other relevant information, teachers often receive a computer
printout of scores. These scores may indicate that a student is working
at the third grade level, but do not provide an analysis of the student’s
abilities, specific problems, or strategies teachers can use.
The article includes an overview of assessments that are often used
with students with disabilities, and their strengths and weaknesses.
On intelligence tests, examiners often administer only the first three
subtests that assess fluid intelligence (abstract thinking, problem
solving), verbal intelligence, and nonverbal intelligence. But most
students with disabilities have problems with lower level cognitive
processing. These include:
Long-term retrieval - the ability to retrieve information on
Short-term memory - the ability to hold information in one’s
immediate awareness long enough to think about it.
Working memory - the ability to remember information long enough
to think about it and use the information to solve a problem.
Processing speed or automaticity - how rapidly and automatically
one can perform simple tasks (affects routine abilities like sigh word
knowledge and math facts).
Phonological awareness - how well one understands that words
are made up of sounds.
Orthographic ability - how well one perceives and retains visual
Fine motor ability - the ability to rapidly perform fine motor tasks,
such as handwriting.
Evaluators should administer all subtests and evaluate each subtest
to discern patterns, determine where the student is having problems,
and what the teacher can do.
The Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement and the Wechsler Individual
Achievement Test are the two most commonly used achievement tests for
students with disabilities. Both tests have weaknesses that limit their
usefulness for teachers.
get a comprehensive
evaluation of your child by an independent evaluator in the
private sector. A comprehensive evaluation will give you a roadmap
for the future.
This evaluation should identify your child's problems and devise
a plan to address these problems. Choose an evaluator who is independent
of the school district and who is willing to work with the school
staff. (For more information about evaluations, read Chapter 8, Evaluations and Your Child's Disability in Wrightslaw:
From Emotions to Advocacy)
You must also learn about tests
and measurements so you can track your child's progress or lack
of progress. If do not learn tests and measurements, you will not be an equal participant in planning your child's special education.
(For more information about tests and measurements, read Chapters
10 and 11 in Wrightslaw:
From Emotions to Advocacy)
is Your Bell Curve IQ?, we give you a quiz and a game plan to
help you master this information - and have some fun.
To supplement our article
about tests and measurements, we created a slide
show to show you how to create graphs of educational progress.
Download our Glossary
of Assessment Terms.