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Topic 8: Assessing Special Children

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  1. Topic 8: Assessing Special Children

  2. Special Children • Special children refers to children who require special assistance and needs, for disabilities that may be medical, mental, or psychological. • Types of special needs vary in severity • Developmental Delay • People with autism, down syndrome, dyslexia, blindness, deafness, ADHD, cystic fibrosis. • Also include cleft lips and or palates, port wine birth marks, or missing limbs. • Learning disabilities

  3. Developmental Delay • Developmental delay is when a child does not reach their developmental milestones at the expected time. • It is an ongoing, major delay in the process of development. • Delay can occur ini one or many areas –such as motor, speech, social , adaptive development (self help skills)or thinking skills. • Disabled children is the term used to describe infant/toddler who need early intervention because they are experiencing developmental delay or diagnosed with physical or mental disabilities - that may influence their everyday life/activities. • Examples:- chromosomal abnormalities, genetic/congenital disorder, severe sensory impairment (hearing/vision), etc. • Developmental delay is usually diagnosed by doctors and special testing can help detect the level of delay.

  4. Learning Difficulties • The most common special needs that you are likely to find in your class are learning difficulties of various types.  • These may or may not be related to a physical or medical condition. • Learning difficulties can range from moderate to severe, sometimes classified as Mild, Moderate, Severe and Profound general learning difficulties.

  5. Behaviour Difficulties • Pupils who do not conform to what we would consider 'good' behaviour.  • Sometimes this is related to other problems in their lives which lead to them having a special educational need.  • The behaviour may be caused by a physical or medical problem or a learning difficulty.

  6. Physical Difficulties • Motor and limb disabilities. • Increasing inclusion has meant the removal of barriers to access and this is encouraging more parents to have their children educated in mainstream schools alongside their peers.  • Increasing advances in technology is making this more and more successful.

  7. Types of Tests Used in Special Education • Developmental assessments • Screening tests • Individual intelligence tests • Individual academic achievement tests • Adaptive behavior scales • Behavior rating scales • Curriculum-based assessments • End-of-grade, end-of-course, and alternate assessments

  8. Developmental Assessments • Developmental assessments are norm-referenced scales designed to assess infants, toddlers, and preschoolers development in key areas, such as fine & gross-motor skills, communication and language, social, cognitive, and self-help skills. • If a very young child is thought to be experiencing delays, professionals will use developmental assessment scales to identify strengths and weaknesses. • The scales are administered through direct observations of the young child and parent questionnaires. From the results of the assessment, the evaluator can determine how delayed or advanced the child is in the key areas just mentioned. • Examples of developmental assessment scales. • Developmental Indicators for the Assessment of Learning (3rd ed.) (DIAL-3)(Mardell-Czudnowski & Goldenberg, 1998) • Denver Developmental Screening Test II (Frankenburg et al., 1990).

  9. Screening Tests • Screening instruments are very easy to administer, contain relatively few items, and can be completed in a relatively brief time, often requiring only a few minutes per child. • Schools often use screening tests to assess children with below the norm in different areas – using pencil+paper tests, rating scales/checklists used to document certain behaviors, or direct observations of skills or abilities. • Their purpose is to alert the school to a potential problem so that more in-depth assessments can be conducted. • Examples of other relevant screening tests: • Pre-Kindergarten Screen (Webster & Matthews, 2000) designed to identify possible pre-academic weaknesses in 4- and 5-year-olds; • Revised Behavior Problem Checklist (Quay & Peterson, 1993) used to identify children at risk for behavior problems; • Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (2nd ed.) (KBIT-2) (Kaufman & Kaufman, 2004), intended to provide a quick estimate of verbal and nonverbal intelligence.

  10. Individual Intelligence Tests  • Intelligence (as measured by most intelligence tests) generally correlates with one's potential to learn academic skills. Thus, individual tests of intelligence have always been used when students are considered for special education. • The outcome of this norm-referenced test will help determine whether the student have learning disabilities. The diagnosis of mental retardation (or intellectual disabilities) requires a significantly low level of measured intelligence whereas learning special needs and emotional disturbance assume an average or above-average level of intelligence. • Only a qualified psychologist diagnostician can administer an IQ test. • Examples of Intelligence tests used: • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (3rd ed.) (WISC-III) • Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale (4th ed.) • Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Cognitive Abilities (WJ III)

  11. Individual Academic Achievement Tests • Most students in special education, and those referred for special education consideration are weak in one or more academic areas. To determine precisely which academic areas are of concern, a psychologist or educational evaluator will administer at least one broad ranging, multiple-skill academic achievement test to the child. • The results of the test will tell how the child stands in key academic skills such as reading, written expression, arithmetic, general information, and specific school subjects. • Unlike the administration of intelligence tests, which requires the evaluator to receive specific clinical training, teachers can usually administer academic achievement tests. • Example: • Peabody Individual Achievement Test (Rev/Normative Update (PIAT-R/NU) • Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement/Normative Update (K-TEA/NU) • Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, Second Edition (WIAT-II)

  12. Adaptive Behavior Scales  • A student with mental retardation (or intellectual disabilities) must exhibit a deficit in adaptive behavior skills (skills that are especially useful for daily functioning). • Typical items on adaptive behavior scales include daily living skills; community participation skills; and functioning in specific ability areas such as demonstrating appropriate social behaviors, communication, motor abilities, and applying basic academic skills. • Using the scale requires an evaluator (teachers/parents/caregiver) who are familiar with the child to rate each item using the scale's specific rating system, or interview someone who is knowledgeable about the student's ability. • Example: • Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (2nd ed.) (Vineland-II) • Scales of Independent Behavior—Revised (Bruininks, Woodcock, Weatherman, & Hill, 1996).

  13. Behavior Rating Scales  •  The reason why many children are referred to special education is due to inappropriate behavior. Thus, to assess the extant of inappropriate behavior & difficulties, evaluators will often use behavior rating scales. • These scales present a list of various challenging behaviors, sometimes clustered into subcategories, and the rater uses a rating scale (such as a 1-to-5-point scale) to indicate how frequent or intense the behavior is. • Parents/teacher/caretaker who knows the child will complete the scale. • After rating different behaviors, the evaluator can then calculate summary scores; and because the scales are norm-referenced, the scores for the child can be used to determine his or her behavioral status compared to others. • Examples: • Devereux Behavior Rating Scale—School Form • Social Skills Rating System

  14. Curriculum-Based Assessment • Curriculum-based assessments are often made by the teacher to determine the student's skill level in specific curriculum areas at a certain point in time. The teacher might ask the student to read aloud two or three times a week from a fifth-grade reader and answer comprehension questions about the material. • At each session, the teacher would record & chart the number of words read correctly, the number misread, and the number of comprehension questions answered. By using this assessment, the teacher could determine if the student was making progress toward the goal. • Curriculum-based assessment provides a viable approach for evaluating how well a student responds to intervention (Fuchs et al., 2003). For this reason, teachers are likely to use it very often when evaluating students who are participating in early intervening activities. By using the curriculum-based assessment, teachers and other professionals will be able to determine if a particular intervention is succeeding.

  15. End-of-Grade, End-of-Course, and Alternate Assessments • The purpose of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was to close the achievement gap between students with high and low performance. • To show if schools are making adequate progress, students are tested at the end of each grade. Currently, this testing applies to children between the third and eighth grades. • Students in special education are not exempt from these tests. If they are unable to participate in the general education mandated assessment, they have two choice: • Take the test with accommodations that allow them to participate. • Second, they may participate through an alternate assessment procedure. • Most students with academic special needs and with sensory or physical impairments are provided with accommodations, whereas students with more severe intellectual special needs are evaluated using an alternate assessment.

  16. Performance Criteria Scales. • Children with special educational needs also must be assessed regularly and their progress reported to parents. However, the levels of the national curriculum may not be appropriate for some. • In the UK there is a system for assessing those with special educational needs called the Performance Criteria Scales. (P - levels). These have targets on eight levels. • For pupils working ‘significantly below age related expectations’ the P-scales enables their academic achievements to be recognised in the same way. For schools, the P-scales provide an essential mechanism to enable them to set meaningful targets for pupils’ with special education needs to achieve, both at an individual and whole school level. • The effective use of P scales promotes an inclusive assessment process which ensures that all pupils’ attainments and progress is recognised and that there are high expectations in all schools to set aspirational and realistic targets.