Assessments for Special Need Children

Curriculum base
CIPP model: Context Input Process Product Model of evaluation

1. Developmental Assessments

Description: Norm-referenced scales that assess infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Developmental assessments are used to find strengths and weaknesses in very young children who are thought to be experiencing delays.

Examples: Developmental Indicators for the Assessment of Learning (DIAL-3) and the Denver Developmental Screening Test II.

2. Screening Tests

Description: Quick, easy to administer tests that are used to identify children who may be below the norm in certain areas. The purpose is to quickly assess the potential problem so more in-depth assessments can be administered.

Examples: The Pre-Kindergarten Screen, Iowa Test of Basic Skills, Revised Behavior Problem Checklist, and the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (KBIT-2).

3. Intelligence Quotient (IQ) Tests

Description: Generally given to students who are being considered for special education, IQ tests help determine if the student’s learning problems are connected with intellectual abilities or other difficulties such as learning disabilities or emotional disturbance.

Examples: Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-IV), Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale (4th ed.) and the Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Cognitive Abilities (WJ III).

4. Academic Achievement Tests

Description: Academic tests evaluate the student’s performance in reading, writing, arithmetic, and other school subjects. These tests are usually given to students being considered for special education.

Examples: Peabody Individual Achievement Test-Revised/Normative Update (PIAT-R/NU), Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement/Normative Update (K-TEA/NU), and the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT-II).

5. Adaptive Behavior Scales

Description: A student diagnosed with intellectual disabilities must show a deficit in adaptive behaviour or basic living skills. Adaptive behaviour scales assess skills in daily living, community participation, social abilities, motor abilities, and communication.

Examples: AAMR Adaptive Behavior Scales (ABS-II), and Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (Vineland-II).

6. Rating Scales

Description: A parent or teacher fills out scales that rate particular behaviours of the student. Determines how intense or frequent challenging behaviour is by comparing scores to other students.

Examples: The Devereux Behavior Rating Scale—School Form, and the Social Skills Rating System.

7. Curriculum-Based Assessment

Description: Determines the student’s skill level in a specific curriculum at a particular point in time. This form of assessment can determine if the student is making progress towards his IEP goal.

Examples: Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS), and AIMSweb.

8. End-of-Grade Alternate Assessments

Description: All students are tested at the end of each grade to show that they have made progress. Accountability laws, such as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), require that each student makes annual yearly progress. Students in special education usually take these tests with accommodations or take an alternate assessment.

Example: State Standardized Tests.

  • Receiving extended time;
  • Using a computer with spell-check;
  • Listening to an adult read the instructions and/or test questions; or
  • Taking the test in a separate room or with a small group.

No one test can accurately measure all of the skills, knowledge, and abilities of a student. When students with LD take high-stakes tests, they deserve the same opportunities as other students to demonstrate what they know. When parents and schools work together, students with learning disabilities can have the support they need when taking tests that may determine so much about their future.