Special Needs Achievement Tests

Posted on April 10, 2006. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Since it is spring and IEP evaluation is coming up, my thoughts turn to IEP evaluations and achievement testing for kids with special needs. Homeschoolers in many states are also required to complete yearly standardized testing, but the fill-in-the-bubble tests often are not appropriate for children with special needs.

We have been using the Woodcock-Johnson Standard Battery, along with the Brigance Criterion Inventory of Basic Skills. The Woodcock-Johnson is often used in school districts as an achievement battery to qualify kids for special education services and has been used to assess growth over a whole school year. I have found that while the information can be useful, it is only a small piece of measuring growth–especially when the progress is there, but in minute steps. The CIBS-R is both criterion referenced and normed, so having the grade-placement and standardized scores from the CIBS-R is a good confirmation of the scores from the Woodcock-Johnson. The CIBS-R covers only skills–listening, reading, spelling, writing, penmanship, math–it does not contain content subject areas like social studies, science, or humanities. This may make a difference in choices of tests if your state requires all major areas to be tested and not just skills. Although I have not chosen it as my preferred test, I know of other tutors and homeschool consultants that use the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, which is another individually administered test that does not require filling in bubbles.

Some of the factors in choosing a standardized test are: length of time to administer, reliability and validity of the results, cost, and who is able to administer the test.

For homeschoolers of children with special needs, the last two factors can become major issues to grapple with. Most standardized test companies require a trained or certified teacher to administer their tests. Curriculum Associates, who sells the CIBS-R, will sell that test and others directly to homeschoolers.

My major preference for testing kids with unique testing issues is Curriculum-based Measurement because the tests can follow standardized procedures, be administered frequently as part of a lesson routine, and provide accurate data for projecting further growth and making intervention changes. Many IEP objectives are written in such a way that CBM can easily be implemented as a measurement tool of academic progress.

Does anyone have opinions or ideas about these or other tests they like to use to somewhat adequately assess the achievement and progress of unique learners?


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