In gathering assessment information on young children like Luke, it is important to keep in mind the following principles of assessment:
- Use multiple sources of information (parents, teachers, therapists).
- Use multiple methods of gathering information (direct observation, family interviews, rating scales, anecdotal records, work sampling, portfolio assessments, standardized assessments).
- Consider the child’s performance in different contexts and situations (at home, at school, alone or with peers).
- Gather assessment information over multiple points of time (before, during, and after an intervention has been implemented).
- Determine if the practice or intervention was implemented in the way it was intended.
- Involve the entire team (family, teacher, therapists) in planning, conducting, and interpreting assessment results.
- Use assessment results to modify interventions if needed.
Determine if the intervention was implemented
The team should consider first whether the embedded interventions to support Luke’s participation actually were implemented as planned. To see how Luke’s family recorded the embedded interventions they used, view the Handout 1.13: Home Child Activity Matrix with Assessment Notes. The team will need to record similar information on the classroom activity matrix.
Determine if the intervention was effective
In addition, the team will need to gather information to help them know if Luke has acquired the learning goals that they have determined for him. What behaviors or skills will show that Luke has achieved these goals? How much information should be gathered and by whom? What specific assessment tools or methods (observations, checklists, and parent interviews) will be used to evaluate Luke’s performance? Assessment methods should be designed in conjunction with the learning goals and documented in the IEP. To see one example of how Luke’s team plans to gather information as part of an assessment plan, view the Handout 1.14: Observation Form they created to address his communication goal.
Summarize and use assessment results
Once assessments have been conducted, a key task will be to compile and summarize the information. A helpful method for compiling assessment information is to develop a portfolio—a collection of products, records, or other sources of evidence of a child’s learning over time. After that, the team should meet to consider all of the assessment results as evidence of whether or not Luke has met his learning goals. The team should consider whether all of the necessary assessment information has been gathered or whether additional information is needed. They also need to consider the assessment results in relation to their expectations for Luke and make any needed adjustments. Teachers and therapists should strive to share assessment information with families in a way that is both timely and sensitive and involve families throughout the assessment process*.
Division for Early Childhood. (2014). DEC recommended practices in early intervention/early childhood special education 2014. See Topic Area “Assessment.”