The process of customizing instruction to a person begins with assessment. There are a variety of assessment types that are used for different reasons. It is important for parents/caregivers and school personnel to all understand the reason behind the assessment in order for it to be effectively completed.
Within a virtual format, parents/caregivers and school personnel should meet beforehand to discuss the goal of the assessment and any instructions that those with the student may need. E.g., giving minimal prompts and praising effort rather than correct answers. Having a team approach to completing assessments and sharing the findings keeps everyone in the know about the levels a student is at regardless of academic, functional skills or behavior.
Educational assessments are not “tests” or “exams”. These informal assessments simply measure where a student is in relation to specific skills. During educational assessment, minimal prompting is conducted and the student guides the assessment through what they done with provided material/unstructured items. The goal is to see where the student is at and allowing them to work through in whatever manner they choose can help show the levels of the student.
The person conducting the assessment may give directions such as sort colors or solve the problem, but may also allow the student to try to get started on their own. Assessments should be stopped if the student reaches frustration and may take part over a number of sessions.
Challenging behaviors can impede a student’s education and keep a student from reaching their full potential. Understanding why a student may be engaging in a particular behavior, is the first step to helping students move past them. Using behavioral assessment to record the behavior, what usually comes before it (antecedent) and what happens after (consequence) is an important step to understanding the reason, or “function” of a behavior.
Behaviors may have multiple functions from four areas: escape, attention, tangible (wanting a physical item) or sensory. Understanding what a student is trying to get out of a behavior helps you prepare and allow for appropriate replacement behaviors to be put into place.
Systematic Data Collection Methods
Regardless of what type of assessment you are doing, collecting data is a key component not only of the assessment itself but also of taking ongoing data. While there are many ways to take data, having accurate data is key. By taking data in the moment and not inferring what the student is thinking or feeling, will help to ensure that data is objective and as accurate as possible.
Finding a data collection method that works for your situation will be important in making sure that data is taken. Whether you are looking at taking data through paper and pencil, electronically, moving coins from one pocket to another to count behaviors or another method following these steps will help ensure that data is collected.