The 1997-updated law under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) affected assessment techniques for students with disabilities. This law requires students with disabilities participate in the general education curriculum to the extent possible. The recent trend towards inclusion has forced educators to develop ways to assess special needs students working in the general education classroom. Brain research tells us that students have different learning styles; therefore, we should have alternative grading methods to meet the needs of students with learning disabilities.
The purposes of assessing special education students are to determine their progress in achieving annual goals and short-term objectives. Assessment also provides diagnostic information for instructional decision making decisions. In recent years, formal and standardized tests have been criticized for their inability to integrate assessment and teaching. Teachers know that the students are learning; however, they do not know the extent of learning. Standardized tests typically measure a small amount of grade-level skills. Also, standardized tests stress factual information; thereby, forcing teachers to teach to the test. For example, they evaluate writing skills by asking grammar questions rather than having the students write a story. Since standardized tests, do not measure an individual student’s knowledge, the impact on students with exceptional needs can be harmful. This dissatisfaction has forced educators to look at different forms of assessment in order to provide information about student learning and achievement.
Informal assessments provide the most useful, practical information about the learning processes of a student. Informal assessments focus on production, rather than on factual recall. Classroom and special education teachers prepare assessments to meet students’ needs and teachers’ purposes. In addition, informal assessments provide necessary diagnostic information needed to develop an accurate Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Administering informal assessments allow teachers to develop alternative grading systems for exceptional student learners. There are several grading systems available for educators to utilize, but the two I have found most useful are the Multiple Grading and Anecdotal/Descriptive and Portfolio Grading system.
Typically, my students do not perform well on weekly tests, so I usually use a Multiple Grading system to determine their skill knowledge. A Multiple Grading system...