- Selected Topics
- Accessing the General Curriculum
- Auditory Training
- Calendar Systems
- Concept Development
- Daily Living Skills
- Environmental Considerations
- Harmonious Interactions
- Lilli Nielsen and Active Learning
- Orientation & Mobility
- Play & Recreation
- Social Interactions
- Tactile Strategies
- Universal Design for Learning
- van Dijk Approach
Practice Perspectives - Highlighting Information on Deaf-Blindness Number 6, June 2010
- Authentic Assessment - Standard Print
- Authentic Assessment - Large Print
- Authentic Assessment - In Spanish
Maria is a quiet 4-year-old who smiles a lot. She has severe
hearing loss in both ears, no vision in her left eye, limited
vision in her right eye, and significant developmental delays.
Maria can walk with minimal assistance but needs physical
guidance to interact with other people and participate in the
world around her.
Accurate assessment of the educational abilities and needs of
children like Maria, who have complex disabilities that include
hearing and vision loss, is essential in order to provide
educational programs that match their abilities and learning
styles. This publication describes a comprehensive approach to
assessment known as authentic assessment, which can be used with children who are deaf-blind or have
Authentic assessment involves obtaining information about children in their everyday environments during normal activities. It provides a way to learn what children know and can do, as well as the types of situations and settings that encourage them to learn. It emphasizes identifying a child’s strengths, which serve as building blocks for further development and skill acquisition.
This issue of Practice Perspectives is adapted from a manual called Assessing Communication and Learning in Young Children Who Are Deafblind or Who Have Multiple Disabilities (Rowland, 2009). The manual is available for free online at https://www.designtolearn.com/uploaded/pdf/DeafBlindAssessmentGuide.pdf.
Importance of Authentic Assessment
Assessing communication and learning in children who are deaf-blind can be challenging even for experienced professionals. Combined vision and hearing loss and, for many children, additional disabilities limit the range of communication methods available to them. Many express themselves in subtle ways that are easily overlooked. Assessment of children who are deaf-blind must consider each child as an individual, rather than focus on the extent to which a child differs from the "norm."
There are so many issues involved in assessing children
who are deaf-blind that the task is best approached as
a process of discovery—discovering the competencies of
children whose abilities and limitations are truly unique.
This type of assessment takes considerable time,
planning, and effort, but is essential for each child’s
educational and personal success.
- Assessment is the starting point of a child’s education.
- Family involvement in the assessment process is essential.
- Information should be gathered using a combination of techniques including interviews with people who know a child well, informal and structured observations, and evaluations by specialists.
- Assessment of children who are deaf-blind must go far beyond the use of assessment instruments.
- Standardized tests may be necessary to qualify a child for services but are inappropriate as tools to guide educational planning.
Features of an Authentic Assessment
- communication, social, and motor skills;
- type and severity of vision and hearing loss;
- likes and dislikes;
- cognitive development;
- activities, places, people, and times of day in which a child functions best; and
- situations that present difficulties for a child.
Identify the Assessment Team
The assessment process involves many people working together as a team including family members, teachers, related service professionals, deaf-blind specialists, psychologists, and other professionals as appropriate for an individual child. Team members have varied areas of expertise and bring different concerns, questions, and insights to the assessment process.
Arrange for Family Involvement
Family input and participation is essential. Each child is part of a unique family system and family members have valuable information about their child. Sharing this information will lead to more accurate assessments and to educational strategies that promote learning and development at home and at school.
Conduct Informal Observations in Multiple Settings
Conduct Structured Observations
Structured observations are useful in evaluating skills that a child may not perform in typical settings. For example, if a child has a one-to-one assistant who is typically close by, it may not be clear whether the child can gain the attention of someone at a distance. It might be necessary to set up a situation where the assistant withholds attention and is far enough away from the child that the child must make an effort to gain the assistant’s attention. You may discover that a child has skills you didn’t know about when the environment is engineered to make it necessary and worthwhile to use them.
Select Appropriate Assessment Tools
Request Evaluations by Specialists
- How can we increase Maria's communication skills?
- How can she learn to interact with other children?
- To what extent can Maria use her vision and hearing to learn new skills?
- How can we encourage her to actively participate in routines at home and at school?
Problems with Standardized Tests
Putting It All Together
- develop an educational program that fits a child's strengths, needs, and learning style;
- design interventions that enhance learning; and
- document a child's progress over time.
Assessment Research Project
This issue of Practice Perspectives was adapted from the following manual:
Rowland, Charity (Ed.). (2009). Assessing Communication and Learning in Young Children Who Are Deafblind or Who Have Multiple Disabilities. Portland, OR: Design to Learn Projects, Oregon Health & Science University.The manual is free online (https://www.designtolearn.com/uploaded/pdf/DeafBlindAssessmentGuide.pdf) or by contacting NCDB (see contact information below). It contains detailed information about conducting assessments with children who are deaf-blind.