Term Paper: Education Assessment

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Special Education

Education Assessment

Assessment has played a pivotal role in the development of special education for many years now. Historically, this task was directed towards categorizing and segregating children with disabilities and learning difficulties in order to identify and label children who would not benefit from mainstream schooling. Various tests and screening procedures, such as I.Q. tests were developed for this purpose. This enabled decisions to be made about placement and provision for special children. The reason for such assessment was to decide on eligibility for special education. These approaches were concerned with looking for deficits in children and they emphasized the difference between the so called special and normal populations. Furthermore, professionals have employed a variety of diagnostic methods of assessment in order to plan appropriate interventions designed to remedy the perceived deficit (Mclaughlin, 2000).

The standards-based educational reform efforts that started in the late 1980s resulted in a transformed focus on the contribution and performance of all students on state-defined academic standards and assessments. In the early 1990s, most states included ten percent or fewer of their students with disabilities in state assessments. Negative consequences of excluding students with disabilities were documented, including increased rates of referral to special education, segregation from the curriculum, and no information on the educational outcomes of students with disabilities. Participation rates in state assessments grew into the 2000s, pushed along by Congressional action through the reauthorizations of the Title I and special education legislation. As recognized through public peer review of state assessment systems under the No Child Left Behind Act, by 2008 all states have constructed assessment systems with the objective of at least the federally required 95% partaking rates by all students and subgroups including students with disabilities. "In these state systems, "all students" means all students, including those students with significant cognitive disabilities (cognitive disabilities generally defined for this purpose as mental retardation). In 1990, large-scale academic assessment of these students did not exist, and only a few policymakers were contemplating the necessity of doing so" (Quenemoen, 2008).

Alternative assessment utilizes activities that disclose what students can do with language, highlighting their strengths instead of their weaknesses. Alternative assessment instruments are not only intended and structured in a different way from traditional tests, but are also graded or scored in a different way. Because alternative assessment is performance based, it helps instructors highlight that the point of language learning is communication for meaningful purposes. Alternative assessment methods work well in learner-centered classrooms because they are based on the idea that students can evaluate their own learning and learn from the evaluation process (Alternative Assessment, 2004).

In the early 1970s, the field of severe disabilities focused on adapting early childhood curriculum for students with the most significant disabilities of all ages. However, severe disability experts began to question the validity of this approach, in part because of the disconnect between the learning progressions assumed by the infant/early childhood curriculum and the actual observations… [END OF PREVIEW]

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