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Assessment Instruments Commonly Used in Special Education

written by: Mayflor Markusic • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 1/17/2012

Identifying a student as one with special needs should not be done lightly. But identification should be done as early as possible so that proper interventions can be given. Fortunately, there are several assessment instruments that are used in the field of special education.

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    The identification of children with special needs is not the only reason why there are various assessment instruments. Assessment and testing are also crucial for students who are already in the special education program. Besides monitoring the advancement of academic performance of special students, these assessment instruments also help the teachers in modifying the educational objectives of the students. The result is the creation of more effective, more responsive, and more dynamic Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). From the perspectives of school administration and community involvement, the use of various psychological assessment tests can increase the accountability of everyone involved in the education of the special student.

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    Types of Assessments

    Here is a short list of the most common assessment instruments that are used in the field of special education.

    Battelle Developmental Inventory– This type of assessment determines whether the child, from infancy to primary grade levels, is meeting developmental milestones. Through the measurement of cognitive, motor, social, and language skills, developmental delays can be identified.

    Child Behavior Checklist – This type of assessment relies on the input of the parent or the guardian and primarily focuses on the child’s behavior, especially one who is suffering from ADHD or ADD. The assessment, which is applicable for children from preschool age to young adulthood, is supposed to quantify social competencies.

    Peabody Developmental Motor Scale – This type of assessment is used to examine the gross and fine motor abilities of a child. It is applicable only to children from age zero to eight. The high reliability of the results of this assessment makes it the preferred test for therapists and psychologists who are treating children with cerebral palsy.

    Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test – This type of assessment measures a person’s language and comprehension abilities, communication skills, and auditory processes. Unlike most assessment tests, this type can be used for individuals with a wider range of ages, beginning from preschool all the way through to late adulthood.

    Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale – This type of assessment is typically used to measure a person’s general intelligence. It is administered on individuals between the ages of 2 and 23. The general intelligence measured also includes the individual’s memory retention and basic cognitive abilities.

    Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale – This type of assessment focuses on the social abilities of an individual, from preschool age to 18 years old. The measurement of social abilities includes fundamental socialization skills, communication skills, basic motor skills, and daily living adeptness.

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    Choosing an Assessment Instrument

    With a wide variety of available types of assessments, it would be easy for teachers to be overwhelmed by the task of choosing. What should be remembered is for teachers to work with parents and other professionals to determine the set of assessments that are best for the special child.