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Components of a Comprehensive Assessment

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

An evaluation for special education should always be conducted on an individual basis. When completed, it is a comprehensive assessment of the child's abilities. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, no single procedure is used as the sole criterion for determining an appropriate educational program for a child. Further, the child must be assessed in all areas related to the suspected disability. These areas include, where appropriate, health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, communicative status, and motor abilities. In light of these mandates, a comprehensive assessment should normally include many of the following:

  • An individual psychological evaluation, including general intelligence, instructional needs, learning strengths and needs, and social–emotional dynamics
  • A thorough social history based on interviews with parents and student
  • A thorough academic history with interviews or reports from past teachers
  • A physical examination, including specific assessments that relate to vision, hearing, and health
  • A classroom observation of the student in his or her current educational setting
  • An appropriate educational evaluation specifically pinpointing the areas of deficit or suspected disability including, but not limited to, educational achievement, academic needs, learning strengths and needs, and vocational assessments
  • A functional behavioral assessment to describe the relationship between a skill or performance problem and variables that contribute to its occurrence. The purpose of a functional behavioral assessment is to gather broad and specific information in order to better understand the specific reasons for the student's problem behavior
  • A bilingual assessment for students with limited English proficiency
  • Auditory and visual discrimination tests
  • Assessment of classroom performance
  • Speech and language evaluations, when appropriate
  • Physical and/or occupational evaluations, when indicated
  • Interviewing the student and significant others in his or her life
  • Examining school records and past evaluation results
  • Using information from checklists completed by parents, teachers, or the student
  • Evaluating curriculum requirements and options
  • Evaluating the student's type and rate of learning during trial teaching periods
  • Evaluating which skills have been and not been mastered, and in what order unmastered skills need to be taught
  • Collecting ratings on teacher attitude toward students with disabilities, peer acceptance, and classroom climate

This information can be gathered in a variety of ways, including norm-referenced tests, informal assessment, criterion-referenced tests, ecological assessment, curriculum-based assessment, curriculum-based measurement, dynamic assessment, portfolio assessment, authentic/naturalistic/performance–based assessment, task analysis, outcome-based assessment, and learning styles assessment (Pierangelo & Giuliani, 2005).

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