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Susan Comments on Embedding Assessment
in All Classroom Activities

Susan-photoI used to assess students using very intricate goal sheets and data sheets. I would write out all the IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) goals on data sheets and we had all these codes for filling them out each day. I was basically teaching to the IEP. Each child had their own box with their name on it with data sheets and a representative sample of every IEP item in a plastic baggy. We'd put the data sheet in front of us and put the task in front of the child then record on the data sheet how the child did on that task. We'd just do that one task after another. The tasks were very disjointed. Basically my teaching was assessment and it never made sense to me. It was never something I liked to do, but it was the way I thought special ed was supposed to be taught.

Now assessment has become a more integral part of every lesson. For example, while we talk about stories and do things related to them, I make mental notes of students' progress on these tasks. While they are counting frogs or sorting monkeys I am assessing their abilities, but not as an isolated activity--the assessment is integrated into the activity. With ongoing assessment you find out things you wouldn't have found out using a standardized assessment. I find it more useful to get my information through groups rather than to sit down with a standardized test. Take, for example Terika (a child with significant cognitive and motor impairments). When we did stories that were really motivating to her, she would eye gaze to the appropriate responses. We thought she did a great job with that. When the psychologist came to assess her for the three-year re-evaluation, and the eye gaze involved categorizing photos the psychologist had brought, Terika had no interest in it and the psychologist thought she couldn't eye gaze. So we had the psychologist sit in and watch Terika in our classroom and see that she really could do it. There are times I have to do standardized assessments and, while I'm sitting there doing it, I realize that's how I used to teach and I don't want to do it that way. If you assess children that way you teach them that way and what do they learn?

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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP)  in collaboration with the Center for Literacy and Disabilities (CLD)  at Duke University.   NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013.  Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information.  If you do so, please cite NCIP.   Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by CLD, NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government.  This site was last updated in September 1998. 

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