Ah-Ha Moments Post-Reflection

Informal/Formal Assessment


The underlying purpose of assessment is to obtain useful information to inform instruction. This is why it is important to consider ethical practices, and to not get into the habit of assessing without intentional purpose. For example, a screening assessment should not be used for diagnostics. Another important ethical practice is to holistically look at the whole child, an indicator of successful assessment practices, verses looking at and making decisions based off of isolated data. One way to ensure the gathering of a comprehensive compilation of data is to use multiple means of assessment methods - both informal and formal. Age and developmentally appropriateness also falls under ethics.

Norm-Referenced Assessments

Basal levels (point below which correct responses are assumed) and ceiling levels (point above which correct responses are assumed) are always important considerations when administering a formal assessment. The examiner should be familiar with both of these levels prior to administering the assessment.

Assessment Toolbox Resources

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Assessment Framework

Faucets and Considerations of Assessment

  • purpose (informs instruction/identifies students eligible for services/answers ?s @ students)
  • different types/approaches (formal/informal, summative/formative, etc)
  • SEM
  • skills and knowledge related to students with special needs
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  • inform instruction
  • identify students eligible for services
  • gather/interpret information to answer questions about students':

-abilities/interests/strengths/"opportunity areas"

-skill mastery

-content knowledge

-behavioral functioning

-unsolved problems (Greene, 2008)

This information allows us to:

  • determine prior knowledge
  • make changes to instruction/assessment as needed
  • improve our teaching practice
  • determine elibility


Examples of INFORMAL assessment

interviews, observations, assignments, anecdotes, running records, event recording, duration recording, intensity recording, latency recording, interval recording, rating scale, checklist, probe, think aloud, cloze procedure, survey, questionnaire, conference, journal, self-assessment, peer assessment, graphic organizer, letter/sound recognition

Examples of FORMAL assessments

Behavioral and Emotional Rating Scale (BERS-2), Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT-4), Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-4, Test of Written Language (TOWL), Woodcock-Johnson IV (WJIV), Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Devereaux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA), Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP-2), Detroit Test of Learning Aptitude, Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test, Vineland Social-Emotional Early Childhood Scales, Young Children's Achievement Test (YCAT), Social Skills Rating System, The Gray Oral Reading Test, Key Math,

One of my greatest take-aways from this course were the points driven home both by the online modules as well as the "Assessment for Learning Video."

Clarifying, understanding, and sharing learning INTENTIONS:
  • show examples of work of different qualities
  • exit tickets
  • The Big 5 (analytical, conceptual, information management, communication, meta-cognition)

Engineering effective classroom discussions, tasks, and activities that ELICIT EVIDENCE of LEARNING:
  • multi-participant questions
  • student answer simultaneously on mini-white boards
  • "no hands up" - use this to activate all students by saying hands can only go up to ask questions/not to answer
  • flipped classroom

Provide feedback that MOTIVATES and moves learners FORWARD:
  • 'two stars and a wish' approach to constructive feedback
  • specific examples

Activate students as a learning RESOURCE for one another:
  • checklists can be used to help guide and support the feedback that students give to each other

Activate students as OWNERS of their own learning:
  • "C3B4ME" - Encourage students to always check three resources before asking for help
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The best feedback is not feedback given to students, but that which is given to the teacher through collecting and reading the work of the class, then PLANNING and ADJUSTING the next lesson to MEET STUDENT NEEDS!


The SEM is often not reported. Scores are not considered TRUE SCORES unless the SEM is considered. When the SEM is small, we can be more confident of a score; when the SEM is large, there is less confidence in the score. Thus, it follows that the more reliable a test is, the smaller the SEM and the more confidence we can have. The less reliable a test, the larger the SEM and the more uncertainty we have in a score (Cohen & Spenciner, 2014).


Per the IRIS Assessment module: Regarding standards-based reform - If it is important for "regular education" students to learn certain content, then it is equally important for ALL students to learn it - including students with special needs and disabilities.

Important considerations:

  • students with disabilities should have access to the general education curriculum
  • knowledge of alternate assessments and when appropriate to administer
  • InTASC standards address what special education teachers need to know and be able to do when teaching students with disabilities (Cohen & Spencer, 2014)


Cohen & Spenciner (2014). Assessment of Children and Youth with Special Needs (5th Edition). Pearson. Kindle Edition.

Greene, Ross W. (2008). Lost at School: Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them. Scribner. Kindle Edition.