In Special Education Assessment for Learning


Assessment comes in many shapes and sizes. Just about everything a teacher does in class to determine and shape the progress of her students is considered assessment. A teacher can observe students and take notes on their learning.

She may record how many words a student reads correctly in a minute and record every incorrect word read to learn about the kinds of mistakes the child is making. Or, a teacher may give a test to his entire class. From the test he can learn about his students’ progress in the content area measured by the test.

Schools also give a wide variety of tests to students. With the mandates of No Child Left behind (NCLB), for example, every student in grades 3-8 is tested to be sure that each is making adequate progress in reading and math.

Whereas students in special education used to be exempt from school-wide assessments, it is now required by NCLB that every child be assessed and their progress compared to the standards expected in the various content areas for their grade level.

Standardized tests were commonly used in the past to determine a child’s eligibility for special education. This practice is also becoming less common as teams of educators now seek to determine a child’s need for special education based on the child’s response to a wide variety of interventions administered by the classroom teacher and other educational professionals.

Response to Intervention (RTI) is becoming standard practice across the nation. One of its real strengths is that it provides for immediate assistance to struggling students rather than waiting until they fall significantly behind their classmates and fail a grade or two.

The learned about the various kinds of assessments in reading writing and math three kinds of assessments are reviewed: informal or teacher-made tests, criterion-referenced tests, and norm-referenced (standardized) tests. Each of these is discussed in more detail in the sections devoted to reading, writing, and math tests.

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