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Parents Guide To Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting of Exceptional Students

The primary purpose of assessment and evaluation for students with special education needs, as for all students, is to improve student learning. To achieve this goal for students with special education needs – that is, to provide the most effective programming possible to support student achievement – it is especially important to review and ensure the ongoing effectiveness of instructional strategies. Assessment for students with special education needs should be an ongoing and continuous process that is an integral part of the daily teaching and learning process. 

(Education Act, S.1 (1)).

The London District Catholic School Board believes that the primary purpose of assessment and evaluation for students with special education needs, as for all students, is to improve student learning. Teachers working with students who have special education needs use assessment and evaluation strategies to:

- Specify and verify the student’s needs;

- Support informed decisions about the student’s program;

- Support a range of other decisions, such as those relating to referrals, screening, classification, instructional planning and determining next steps;

- Help determine particular interventions that may be necessary to enable the student to
demonstrate achievement.

  • For students with special education needs, assessment and evaluation are key components of programming that is based on and modified by the results of continuous assessment and evaluation and that includes an Individual Education Plan (IEP) containing specific objectives and an outline of educational services that meet the needs of the pupil. The IEP specifies whether the student requires:
  1.  Accommodations only; or
  2. Modified learning expectations, with the possibility of accommodations; or
  3. An alternative program not derived from the curriculum expectations for a subject/grade or a course.
  • Accommodations refer to teaching strategies, supports and/or services that are required for the student to access the curriculum and demonstrate learning. There can be instructional, environmental and/or assessment accommodations.

  • Modifications
    are changes made to the grade-level expectations for a subject or course in orderto meet a student’s learning needs. Modifications may include the use of expectations at a different grade level and/or an increase or decrease in the number and/or complexity of expectations relative to the curriculum expectations for the regular grade level (SMART Goals).

  • Alternative learning expectations are developed to help students acquire knowledge and skills that are outside of the Ontario curriculum expectations. (Examples: communication, social skills, behaviour, orientation/mobility training and personal care programs).

  • In most cases, it is neither required nor advisable to assign letter grades or percentage marks onthe report cards to represent the student’s achievement of alternative learning expectations.Alternative learning expectations should be measurable and should specify the knowledge and/or skills that the student should be able to demonstrate independently, given the provision of appropriate accommodations (SMART Goals).

Reporting For Students With Special Needs

If the expectations in the IEP are based on expectations outlined for a grade in a particular subject and/or strand in an Ontario curriculum document, but vary from the expectations of the regular program for the grade, teachers will check the “IEP” box for that subject/strand on theElementary Progress Report Card and the Elementary Provincial Report Card.

On the Provincial Report Cards (not the Progress Report Card), teachers will also include the following statement in the comment area for Language and/or Mathematics if the IEP box is checked for Language and/or Mathematics:
“This (letter grade/percentage mark) is based on achievement of expectations in the IEP that vary from the Grade expectations (and/or) are an (increase/decrease) in the (number and/or complexity) of curriculum expectations.”

Behaviour Exceptionalities:

Some assessment and accommodation strategies used by teachers:

  • make expectations explicit;
  • establish time lines;
  • make use of contracts, as appropriate;
  • break down large tasks, which can quickly overwhelm the student, into small tasks, and provide reinforcement as each part is completed;
  • simplify instructions, choices, and schedules;
  • provide models of completed tasks, so that the student can visualize a completed project;
  • provide instructions visually and verbally;
  • pair students to check each other’s work;
  • provide checklists, outlines, and advance organizers, to help the student complete assignments;
  • permit and enable the student to demonstrate his or her understanding by using a variety of media, including oral presentations, audio - or video-taped assignments, bulletin board displays, dramatizations, and demonstrations;
  • provide opportunities for the student to word-process rather than write assignments;
  • expect quality work from the student rather than a large quantity of work, as the student may need a reduced workload;
  • monitor the student’s progress often, since frequent feedback will help keep the student on track, let him or her know what is expected, and help build self-esteem;
  • seek out and praise the student’s successes as much as possible.

  • Assessment Accommodations

  • adapt the assessment format (e.g., make it an oral test, a practical demonstration, an interview, a construction, or a tape-recorded test);
  • allow the student to write down the main points and to expand on them verbally;
  • divide the test into parts and give it to the student one section at a time or over a period of days;
  • provide the student with a quiet location, free from distractions;
  • allow the student additional time, when required, to complete tests;
  • read or clarify questions for the student and encourage the student, without assisting or The Ontario Curriculum Unit Planner: Special Education Companion © Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2002
  • providing the response, to rephrase questions in his or her own words;
  • highlight key words or instructions for emphasis;
  • allow the student flexibility, as appropriate, in the number of questions to be  answered relating to the same skill;
  • provide prompts for the purpose of drawing the student’s attention back to the test;
  • provide periodic supervised breaks.
  • (Ministry of Education, Spec Ed Companion)

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Some assessment and reporting strategies could include:

  • provide the student with a choice of activities;
    • teach the student the text and format of the assessment ahead of time through rehearsal;
    • pose questions in a way that encourages the student to apply his or her learning to real situations;
    • provide visual cues as a way to teach the student how to summarize or write.

    • Assessment Accommodations
    • adapt the assessment format (e.g., make it an oral test, a practical demonstration, an interview, a construction, or a tape-recorded test);
    • allow the student to write down the main points and to expand on them verbally;
    • allow the student to use assistive devices and technology resources, such as a Kurzweil reader, a speech synthesizer, speech-to-text software, or a Bliss board;
    • allow the use of augmentative and alternative communication systems;
      • divide the test into parts and give it to the student one section at a time or over a period of days;
      • provide the student with a quiet location, free from distractions;
      • allow the student additional time, when required, to complete tests;
    • read or clarify questions for the student and encourage the student, without assisting or providing the response, to rephrase questions in his or her own words;
    • highlight key words or instructions for emphasis;
    • allow the student to use a calculator, where appropriate;
    • allow the student flexibility, as appropriate, in the number of questions to be answered relating to the same skill;
    • allow audiotaped responses or verbatim scribing of responses to test questions;
    • provide prompts for the purpose of drawing the student’s attention back to the test;
    • provide periodic supervised breaks. (Ministry of Education Spec Ed Companion)

Deaf and Hard of Hearing;

Some assessment and reporting strategies include:

  • make allowances for a slower rate of language acquisition and a less sophisticated use of language, which can be normal results of hearing loss;
  • contact the local resource consultant, the local itinerant teacher of the deaf, and/or the provincial schools when administering formal assessments, to obtain further assistance;
  • preview the language used in the test questions (e.g., compose, contrast, simplify, justify, and define) and, if necessary, provide further clarification for the deaf or hard of hearing student;
  • provide visual materials whenever possible;
  • encourage the student to advocate for his or her own appropriate accommodations;
  • frequently assess learning so as not to overlook gaps in development.
  • adapt the assessment format (e.g., a practical demonstration, use of pictures and videos, a construction);
  • use a computer or word processor;
  • allow the student to use assistive devices and technology resources, such as a Kurzweil reader, a speech synthesizer, speech-to-text software, or augmentative and alternative communication systems;
  • divide the test into parts and give it to the student one section at a time or over a period of
    days;
  • provide the student with a quiet location, free from distractions;
  • allow the student additional time, when required, to complete tests;
  • read or clarify questions for the student and encourage the student, without assisting or providing the response, to rephrase questions in his or her own words;
  • highlight key words or instructions for emphasis. (Ministry of Ontario Spec Ed Companion)

Language and Speech Impairment

Some assessment or reporting strategies that may be used:

  • teach the student ways to prepare a study sheet;
  • teach the student the vocabulary necessary for test taking;
  • model test-taking strategies;
  • provide the student with a practice test;
  • avoid asking questions within questions and using complicated wording;
  • use several assessments to establish the student’s ability.
    • adapt the assessment format (e.g., make it an oral test, a practical demonstration, an interview, a construction, a tape-recorded test);
    • allow the student to write down the main points and to expand on them verbally;
    • allow the student to use assistive devices and technology resources, such as a Kurzweil reader, a speech synthesizer, or speech-to-text software and augmentative communication systems;
    • divide the test into parts and give it to the student one section at a time or over a period of days;
    • provide the student with a quiet location, free from distractions;
    • allow the student additional time, when required, to complete tests;
    • read or clarify questions for the student and encourage the student, without assisting or providing the response, to rephrase questions in his or her own words;
    • highlight key words or instructions for emphasis;
    • allow the student to use a calculator, where appropriate;
    • allow the student flexibility, as appropriate, in the number of questions to be answered relating to the same skill;
    • provide prompts for the purpose of drawing the student’s attention back to the test;
  • provide periodic supervised breaks. (Ministry of Education Spec Ed Companion).

Learning Disability

Some assessment and reporting strategies could include:

  • teach metacognitive strategies (e.g., making inferences, predicting, restating in own words, summarizing) to help the student process and recall oral and written information;
  • teach the student ways to prepare a study sheet;
  • teach the student the vocabulary necessary for test taking;
  • model test-taking strategies;
  • provide the student with a practice test;
  • avoid asking questions within questions and using extremely complicated wording;
  • use several assessments to establish the student’s ability;
  • avoid penalizing the student for spelling errors, unless spelling is pertinent to the assessment.
    • adapt the assessment format (e.g., make it an oral test, a practical demonstration, an interview, a construction, or a tape-recorded test);
    • allow the student to write down the main points and to expand on them verbally;
    • allow the student to use assistive devices and technology resources, such as a Kurzweil reader, a speech synthesizer, or speech-to-text software;
    • divide the test into parts and give it to the student one section at a time or over a period of days;
    • provide the student with a quiet location, free from distractions;
  • allow the student additional time, when required, to complete the tests;
    read or clarify questions for the student and encourage the student, without assisting or providing the response, to rephrase questions in his or her own words;$ highlight key words or instructions for emphasis;
  • allow the student to use calculators, where appropriate;
    • allow the student flexibility, as appropriate, in the number of questions to be answered relating to the same skill;
    • allow audiotaped responses or verbatim scribing of responses to test questions;
    • provide prompts for the purpose of drawing the student’s attention back to the test;
    • provide periodic supervised breaks. (Ministry of Ontario Spec Ed Companion)

Giftedness

Some assessment and reporting strategies could include:

  • provide the student with a quiet location, free from distractions;
  • provide prompts for the purpose of drawing the student’s attention back to the test;
  • allow the student to use a computer or word processor, as appropriate;
  • provide periodic supervised breaks. (Ministry of Ontario Spec Ed Companion).

Mild Intellectual Disabilities

Some assessment and reporting strategies that may be used include:

  • help a student who is leaving the school system create an individualized portfolio;
  • use alternative forms of assessment (e.g., oral tests, demonstrations, tape recording);
  • extend the time allowed the student for completion of assignments or tests;
  • provide the student with word processors, calculators, and other learning aids during tests;
  • allow the students to give an oral report or answer orally;
  • use pictorial cues for instructions;
  • highlight key words in questions;
  • give the student frequent short quizzes in lieu of long tests that cover a broad base of content;
  • change question types from essay to fill-in-the-blank, multiple-choice, short-answer, etc.;
  • give the student practice questions;
  • simplify the wording of test questions, without changing the intent of the expectations;
  • read test questions aloud
    • adapt the assessment format (e.g., make it an oral test, a practical demonstration, an interview, a construction, a tape-recorded test);
    • allow the student to write down the main points and to expand on them verbally;
    • allow the student to use assistive devices and technology resources, such as a Kurzweil reader, a speech synthesizer, speech-to-text software; or a Bliss board;
    • allow the use of augmentative and alternative communication systems;
    • divide the test into parts and give it to the student one section at a time or over a period of days;
    • provide the student with a quiet location, free from distractions;
    • allow the student additional time, when required, to complete the tests;
  • read or clarify questions for the student and encourage the student, without assisting or providing the response, to rephrase questions in his or her own words;
    • highlight key words or instructions for emphasis;
    • allow the student to use a calculator where appropriate;
    • allow the student flexibility, as appropriate, in the number of questions to be answered relating to the same skill;
    • allow audiotaped responses or verbatim scribing of responses to test questions;
    • provide prompts for the purpose of drawing the student’s attention back to the test;
    • provide periodic supervised breaks. (Ministry of Ontario Spec Ed Companion)

Developmental Disabilities

Some assessment and reporting strategies may include:

  • continuously assess the appropriateness of the level of difficulty of each task, to ensure that the student is challenged to learn but does not become frustrated;
  • develop daily observation performance checklists;
  • use performance-based assessment on an ongoing basis;
  • provide a menu of options through which the student can demonstrate knowledge and performance;
  • keep the student’s work samples to build a portfolio of assessment material;
  • enlist teacher assistants, volunteers, and peer tutors to conduct spot checks of the student’s work;
  • use several assessments to establish the student’s achievement level;
  • use a variety of strategies to assess progress (e.g., demonstrations, videotaping, student’s self-assessment, peer assessment, objective observer assessment);
  • provide the student with a practice test before asking him or her to write a test;
  • assign easier questions on the same concept;
  • have the student make use of concept maps or webbing to demonstrate his or her level of learning;
  • provide the student with more space to record responses;
  • enlarge the print on the test;
  • give the student extra time to complete an assignment, or assess only on what the student can finish;
  • reduce the number of tasks the student is required to complete;
  • give shorter tests, covering less material, more frequently.
    • adapt the assessment format (e.g., make it an oral test, a practical demonstration, an interview, a construction, a tape-recorded test);
    • allow the student to write down the main points and expand on them verbally;
    • allow the student to use assistive devices and technology resources, such as a Kurzweil reader, a speech synthesizer, speech-to-text software, or a Bliss board;
    • allow the use of augmentative and alternative communication systems;
    • divide the test into parts and give it to the student one section at a time or over a period of days;
    • provide the student with a quiet location, free from distractions;
    • allow the student additional time, when required, to complete the tests;
  • read or clarify questions for the student and encourage the student, without assisting or providing the response, to rephrase questions in his or her own words;
    • highlight key words or instructions for emphasis;
    • allow the student to use a calculator, where appropriate;
    • allow the student flexibility, as appropriate, in the number of questions to be answered relating to the same skill;
    • allow audiotaped responses or verbatim scribing of responses to test questions;
    • provide prompts for the purpose of drawing the student’s attention back to the test;
    • provide periodic supervised breaks. (Ministry of Education Spec Ed Companion).

Physical Disability:

Some assessment or reporting strategies that may be used could include:

  • adapt the assessment format (e.g., make it an oral test, a practical demonstration, an interview, a construction, a tape-recorded test);
  • allow the student to write down the main points and expand on them verbally;
  • allow the student to use assistive devices and technology resources, such as a Kurzweil reader, a speech synthesizer, speech-to-text software, or a Bliss board;
  • allow the use of augmentative and alternative communication systems;
  • divide the test into parts and give it to the student one section at a time or over a period of days;
  • provide the student with a quiet location, free from distractions;
  • provide special lighting;
  • allow the student additional time, when required, to complete the tests;
  • read or clarify questions for the student and encourage the student, without assisting or providing the response, to rephrase questions in his or her own words;
  • highlight key words or instructions for emphasis;
  • allow the student to use a computer or word processor;
  • allow the student to use a calculator, where appropriate;
  • allow the student flexibility, as appropriate, in the number of questions to be answered relating to the same skill;
  • allow audiotaped responses or verbatim scribing of responses to test questions;
  • provide prompts for the purpose of drawing the student’s attention back to the test;
  • provide periodic supervised breaks. (Ministry of Education Spec Ed Companion)

Blind and Low Vision

Some assessment and reporting strategies may include:

  • adapt the assessment format (e.g., make it an oral test, a practical demonstration, an interview, a construction, a tape-recorded test);
  • $use large print, coloured paper, covered overlays, Braille, or audiotapes, as required;
  • allow the student to write down the main points and to expand on them verbally;
  • allow the student to use assistive devices and technology resources, such as a Kurzweil reader, a speech synthesizer, speech-to-text software, or a Brailler;
  • allow the use of augmentative and alternative communication systems;
  • divide the test into parts and give it to the student one section at a time or over a period of days;
  • provide the student with a quiet location, free from distractions;
  • provide special lighting as required;
  • allow the student additional time, when required, to complete the tests;
  • read or clarify questions for the student and encourage the student, without assisting or providing the response, to rephrase questions in his or her own words;
  • highlight key words or instructions for emphasis;
  • allow the student to use a computer or word processor;
  • allow the student to use a calculator, where appropriate;
  • allow the student flexibility, as appropriate, in the number of questions to be answeredThe Ontario Curriculum Unit Planner: relating to the same skill;
  • allow audiotaped responses or verbatim scribing of responses to test questions;
  • provide prompts for the purpose of drawing the student’s attention back to the test;
  • provide periodic supervised breaks. (Ministry of Ontario Spec Ed Companion).