Types of Tests Used in Special Education
- Developmental assessments
- Screening tests
- Individual intelligence tests
- Individual academic achievement tests
- Adaptive behavior scales
- Behavior rating scales
- Curriculum-based assessments
- End-of-grade, end-of-course, and alternate assessments
Developmental assessments are norm-referenced scales designed to assess the development of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in key areas. These areas include fine- and gross-motor, communication and language, social, cognitive, and self-help skills. If a very young child is thought to be experiencing delays, and especially if the child is going to be served in an infant-toddler program, professionals will use developmental assessment scales to identify strengths and weaknesses. The scales are administered through direct observations of the young child and parent questionnaires. From the results of the assessment, the evaluator can determine how delayed or advanced the child is in the key areas just mentioned.
There are numerous developmental assessment scales. Two that are often used are Developmental Indicators for the Assessment of Learning (3rd ed.)(DIAL-3)(Mardell-Czudnowski & Goldenberg, 1998) and the Denver Developmental Screening Test II (Frankenburg et al., 1990).
As we have said, schools often use screening tests to help find children who might be below the norm in different areas. Screening instruments are very easy to administer, contain relatively few items, and can be completed in a relatively brief time, often requiring only a few minutes per child. They may be pencil-and-paper tests, rating scales or checklists used to document certain behaviors, or direct observations of skills or abilities. Their purpose is to alert the school to a potential problem so that more in-depth assessments can be conducted.
Undoubtedly you are familiar with Snellen charts, which schools use to screen for visual acuity. Examples of other relevant screening tests include the Pre-Kindergarten Screen (Webster & Matthews, 2000) designed to identify possible pre-academic weaknesses in 4- and 5-year-olds; the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (Hoover, Dunbar, & Frisbie, 2001) to quickly test basic academic skills with groups of students; the Revised Behavior Problem Checklist (Quay & Peterson, 1993) used to identify children at risk for behavior problems; and the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (2nd ed.) (KBIT-2) (Kaufman & Kaufman, 2004), intended to provide a quick estimate of verbal and nonverbal intelligence.
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