The terms assessment and evaluation are often used
interchangeably, yet these two terms significantly differ in meaning.
Assessment refers to the procedures used to determine whether a student has a
disability and the nature and extent of the special education and related
services that the student needs. Before the initial placement of the student
with disability, a full and individual evaluation is required in all the areas
in relation to the suspected disability. Evaluation in this case includes but
is not limited to, health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status,
general intelligence, adaptive behavior, academic performance, communication
skills and motor abilities. The evaluation conducted must include sufficiently
comprehensive information to aide in the identification of the suspected
disability and all the student’s special education and related services needs,
whether or not that are linked to the disability of the student. Assessment
should not be racially or culturally discriminatory.
Assessment is essential to the evaluation process.
Assessment includes formal and informal processes of systematically observing,
gathering and recording credible information to assist answering evaluation
questions and make decisions regarding the student concerned. Test can be one
way of obtaining information throughout the assessment process. Tests can be
standardized or non-standardized, criterion referenced or norm referenced. Assessment
information can be obtained through many other various ways other than test.
Observations, interviews, and medical reports are all examples of other ways to
gather information in addition to tests.
In the case that student’s found eligible for special
education all the information collected will translate into the present levels
of academic achievement and functional performance and this makes the basis for
making decisions when creating the student’s IEP. If the student is not found
eligible, the information gathers becomes very useful to LEA in determining
additional appropriate instruction, and supports for the students.
A comprehensive assessment should include the following
10. Observation of the student during instruction.
11. Historical review of the student’s academic progress
12. Interviews with parents or teachers.
13. Assistive Technology.
Observation should take place in the
student’s learning environment to document his/her academic performance and
behavior in the areas where the student is having difficulty. The academic
achievement and developmental progress of the student can be obtained through
observations, the student’s grades, benchmarks, district wide tests, progress
monitoring and developmental activities. Social and cultural factors play an
important role in the process of assessment. In order to pay close attention to
environmental or economic disadvantages, it may useful to obtain information
about educational history; things like enrollment, attendance records and
grades repeated can have a huge impact on the assessment process. In addition,
consideration to cultural factors have proven to be fundamental for the
assessment process, and that might require having information related to what
native language does the student use, what mode of communication and
information about the student’s English proficiency will definitely be valuable
to the process.
Autism is an example of a developmental
disability, that is usually evident before the age of 3, and which affects the
verbal and nonverbal communication, social interaction and significantly affecting
educational performance. Some other noticeable characteristics associated with
autism include engagement in repetitive activities and stereotypical movements,
resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual
responses to sensory experiences.
comprehensive evaluation for a student with autism consists of:
Motor processing/ perceptual/ sensory
Academic/ achievement/ functional levels
Social or cultural background.
Some things to consider while
assessing a student with autism is the use of a wide variety of methods
including formal and informal observations, interviews, and direct student
Deafness-Blindness: the student
here demonstrates both hearing and visual impairment, the combination of both
impairments cause such severe communication and other developmental and
A comprehensive evaluation for a
student with deaf-blindness would include:
Ophthalmological or optometric/vision
Adaptive behavior and social or cultural
Some considerations to this
student’s evaluation may include reports from an audiologist and optometrist to
determine the extent of the hearing and the visual impairment. Adaptive
behavior information must be assessed in a way that the student can compensate
for the sensory losses. The consideration of assistive technology is essential.
Deafness-Hearing Impairment: is an
impairment that affects educational performance. This impairment is severe to
the point that with or without amplification the student is limited in
processing his linguistic information through hearing. Some comprehensive
evaluation to be considered is audiological examination,
communication/language, academic/achievement/developmental, and adaptive
behavior and social or cultural background.