Purpose of Assessment

Purpose of Assessment


Selected assessment tools and procedures 

Should match the intended purpose of the assessment.
Purposes for assessment are 
Curriculum Development 
Student Evaluation 


Purpose of this assessment is to identify students who have handicapping conditions 
Precedes referral for evaluation of eligibility 
May be broad based, across domains, or specific 


Amniocentesis (pre-natal) 
Apgar Scoring (new borns) 
Early Childhood Screening 


Diagnosis and Placement 
Testing is done to identify a disorder, determine an eligibility/classification and guide placement decisions 
Psychologist, Ed.Diagnostician or Therapist

Typically includes
Sensory functioning (neurological tests) 
Mental ability  (intelligence tests) 
Adaptive functioning (behavior inventories)

Curriculum Development

Testing is done to determine which skill should be taught (educational assessment) 
Usually conducted by teacher 

May include: 
Criterion referenced tests (Brigance) 
Ecological inventories 
Performance assessments (PEP) 
Rating scales (SIBS) 
Portfolios (F.A.C.E.S.) 
Curriculum based (CLASS)

This type of assessment addresses those variables that effect educational, emotional, and social development.

Examples of assessments for evaluation include 
Student progress (IEP) 
Quality of life (effective behaviors in social environments) 
Program quality (educational, residential, vocational) 


Factors Related to Meaningful Assessment

Test Reliability -the extent to which an instrument is consistent in measuring whatever it measures 
Test Validity- the extent to which a test measures what it is supposed to measure (content validity) 
Data Gathering Methods (direct testing, observation, interview)

Developmental Approach to Assessment
Looks at the “normal sequence” of development to determine which skill an individual should be achieving 
IQ Tests- norm referenced and designed to to measure intellectual capacity or learning ability 
Developmental Scales-written in observable terms; skills chronologically ordered

Problems with Developmental Approach 
IQ Tests

Students with severe disability not represented in the norms 
Difficulties in scoring may lead to use of age inappropriate measures 
Designed to measure fundamental cognitive ability but require academic knowledge 
IQ Tests: sensory, neural or physical impairments interfere with performance

Developmental Scales: 
Skills may be viewed in isolation 
Purpose for task not always apparent 
May lead to poor choices instructionally(it’s on the test, it must be important…but is it age appropriate and functional?) 
Typical developmental sequence may be irrelevant for some with disabilities 
May lead to age inappropriate instruction

Environmental Approach to Assessment: 
Promoted by Lou Brown and colleagues 
Considers “domain areas of adult functioning” 
domestic   rec/leisure 
community(school)  vocational 
Takes a “top down” approach vs. the “bottom up” sequence used in developmental approaches

Ecological Inventories
Emphasize functionality (skills that are actually used are more likely retained) 
Strong consideration of student preferences 
Emphasize functionality (skills that are actually used are more likely retained) 
Strong consideration of student preferences 
Emphasize skills used across environments 
Flexible and highly individualized

Ecological Inventory Process 
Identify curriculum domains 
Identify and survey current and future natural environments 
Divide the relevant environments into subenvironments 

Communication Issues 
Non symbolic modes- communication without the use of symbols such as speech, signs or pictures 
Symbolic modes- communication which relies on forms that represent or stand for something else

Non Symbolic Communication Skills
Facial expression 
Body movements 
Eye gaze 

Non symbolic skills are sometimes referred to as  

Some students do not transition to symbolic communication; therefore, it is crucial to recognize the current repertoire and to expand it when possible.

Non Symbolic Communication Intervention
Focus on these questions: 
How can I help the learner communicate better? 
How can I communicate better with the learner?

Focus on these questions 
What are the observable behaviors that may serve a communicative function? 
What function or purpose is served by these behaviors?


Augmentative and Alternative Communication:

Aided Systems 
Communication boards and displays 
Electronic devices

Unaided Systems 
Gestures and signs 
American Sign Language 
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Sam Houston State University
Power Point Presentation