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Chapter 3

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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYC 3850
Professor
Online Class
Semester
Winter

Description
CHAPTER 3: Assessment Issues and Procedures The Beginning Evaluation • Historically there has been an inclination for assessments of intellectual capacity to be pronounced by physicians, at very early ages, with very little data except observations – this continues to some degree today! o e.g. at birth Dr. announces – your child is mentally retarded as you can see by his eyes and hands; today we are more likely to undertake more comprehensive assessment • Psychological assessment has a lengthy history when compared with other areas of behavioural science – particularly the measurement of intelligence (Alfred Binet began to measure intelligence in 1904) ISSUES AND CONCEPTS Assessment Use • One difficulty plaguing behavioural evaluation over the years has been the misuse of assessment procedures • Instrument development has occurred at a very rapid rate, often at the expense of careful and deliberate thought about the purposes and uses of the tests o Many practitioners seemed to have a fixation on instruments of assessment with much less attention to questions of WHY testing was being done o Because this was driving force for the commercial market of testing materials, technical precision (i.e. instrument construction) in psychological assessment seemed always to be ahead of conceptual considerations (i.e. underlying purposes for assessment and use of resulting information) for practical assessment o The USE problem is fundamental, as ‘Why should one test if the information is not directly used for instruction or other intervention?’ 2 • Concerns have been raised about limited relationships between assessment information and instructional planning (including individualised education programs or IEPs) designed for children • There has been a significant rise in numbers of psychoeducational instruments during the past 30 years • Many instruments on the market do not give adequate attention to sound measurement practices – there is an instrument to measure every facet of human behavior Assessment Referencing • The PURPOSE of any assessment influences the procedure(s) employed and the way data are interpreted • Development of measurement concepts regarding the reference used for data interpretation represents one of the more important developments in the field of assessment – i.e. what standards or comparisons are used for a child’s performance • Different referents or performance standards might be employed for the same data (e.g. child’s score on a 10-item test might be compared with the scores of others or it simply might represent an important instructional goal to be reached) o Using different referents does not necessarily mean that different test items are employed, just that the performance data are compared with a different standard Norm Referencing • Early assessment developments focused on HOW an individual performed, compared with others, particularly in area of intelligence o e.g. Child’s test score was viewed in relation to their age-mates or some standard norm – research and repeated testing of individuals at various ages usually establish norms or databases for comparison • Educational achievement is often measured by amount of information a child has accumulated, as demonstrated by correct responses on a variety of test 2 3 questions, compared with that of other children who are the same age or at the same grade level • Norm-Referenced Evaluation = an assessment in which the performance of an individual is compared with that of others by using established norms • Binet and Simon (1908) first defined, Mental Age (MA), which is a concept that is norm referenced • Some Problems with Norm-Referenced Evaluation:  Standardized tests provided information that was useful for some purposes but not for others (e.g. educators frequently found that-  scores did not translate easily into teaching plans;  single score was often used for decisions about educational placement, with little or no additional information about child  single scores gave teacher, at best, meager guidance concerning activities and specific areas to target in instruction  A global score or psychologist report did not indicate where to begin in teaching mathematics or reading skills, leaving teachers with no logical link connecting evaluation and instruction o Similar issues arose in working with individuals with intellectual disabilities and other disabilities in social-vocational efforts and other aspects of the adult world  Norm-referenced assessment information did little to facilitate placement, planning and programming (e.g. sheltered workshop directors had to determine what specific skills a client with retardation already had and what skills needed to be taught for the individual to perform productively) Criterion Referencing • Criterion referenced evaluation = assessment of specific skill areas individually, rather than generating a score based on composite of several skills 3 4 o Does not compare an individual’s performance with that of others o Assessment tasks or test items are usually arranged in sequence of increasing difficultly and a person’s functioning is viewed in terms of absolute performance level or actual number of operations completed  e.g. If child being tested on counting skills is able to progress successfully through counting by twos but no farther, that is his or her absolute performance • Performance or skill level can be referenced in one or both of two ways: o The evaluator and the teacher (frequently, the same person) asking - Is this level of proficiency adequate for this child at this time?  Criterion-referenced evaluation = the level of proficiency necessary for the child to perform at a given time (e.g. As child progresses, he may need to perform at a more advanced skill level, depending on environmental requirements and the criterion for this skill will change accordingly) o Comparison of individual’s performance in one area with performance in others (e.g. child may perform well in letter recognition but poorly in sound blending)  Evaluator examines performances in various skill areas, frequently constructing a profile of child’s strengths and weaknesses, and pinpoint instructional effort from profile  Referent for evaluation data is still in one’s individual performance but now between skill areas – usually measurement involves performance on specific tasks  Evaluator draws no inferences about such abstract concepts as intelligence, instead relating performance measurement directly to instruction • Criterion-referenced evaluation has been applied in a wide variety of settings, one of the most relevant applications being the direct linkage between assessment and classroom instruction 4 5 • Curriculum-Based Assessment = Uses the sequential objectives of the student’s curriculum as the referent or criterion for evaluating progress – consequently, the objectives associated with the curriculum that a student is being taught is the referent or standard for success as the youngster’s performance is assessed o This approach emphasizes the link between instructional objectives and assessment, improving the potential for instructional decision making o Provides natural and efficient process for screening assessment • In some cases, other terms, such as objectives-referenced measurement have been used, although distinctions are less crucial once the more general concept of assessment referencing is understood • Analysis of the usefulness of criterion- and norm-referenced assessment over time has led many to conclude that neither approach in isolation results in a totally effective evaluation process o Criterion-referenced evaluation is useful for specific instructional programming, a need not served well by norm-referenced evaluation o Many children with intellectual disabilities must function in a regular educational setting on a partial basis – a norm-referenced world, so to maximize the child’s chances for success, we need information that indicates how child’s performance compares with others in the larger world Formative and Summative Evaluation • Some conceptual developments look directly to the purposes of evaluation and have led articulation of 2 broad categories: 1. Formative Evaluation: = assessment that focuses not on a desired ultimate behaviour but rather on the next step in an instructional program 2. Summative Evaluation = assessment of terminal behaviours and evaluates a child’s performance at the end of a given program 5 6 Assessment Bias • Concerns about discriminatory assessment surface particularly with respect to cultural bias and prejudice o E.g. African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans have claimed the standardized, norm-referenced testing is culturally biased • They have also raised serious concerns regarding the absence of assessment specialists with appropriate training and background • Assessment bias = due to instrumentation or administration, generates inaccurate results that are at least particularly due to cultural background, rather than to actual mental abilities or skills • Attempts to reconstruct unbiased instruments have been largely disappointing • Factors such as ethnicity influence a youngster’s likelihood of being diagnosed as having a disability, and minority children represent a disproportionately large segment of the population identified as having Intellectual disability • Professional training in diagnostic assessment remains limited and needs to be reformed EARLY LIFE (Birth – 2 Yrs of Age) • Evaluation at this point in the life of children is conducted for at least 2 related purposes: 1. Identification of children who already show intellectual disabilities in their development 2. Identification of children who have high probability of showing intellectual disabilities later Screening Concepts 6 7 • Those who have intellectual disabilities or exhibit behaviours that suggest they will later have intellectual disabilities are sorted out by early screening • High-risk situations may trigger assessment and actual intervention aimed at: o Prevention – prevention may involve pregnancy prevention if genetic screening of parents indicates a problem or pregnancy termination if screening information indicates the unborn fetus is negatively affected o Genetic counselling may be employed where developmental abnormalities are probable and may result in advice that pregnancy should be avoided or closely monitored if the potential parents decide to proceed • For children who have severe intellectual disabilities, frequently because of a birth defect or congenital malformation, identification easier and important in terms of planning for the future of the child and the family, but because of severity of the problems, positive action is more difficult • One serious problem in assessing young children is accuracy of prediction – Early screening tries to predict later behaviours that are very different - the behavioural repertoire of the infant is much different from that of the child at age 6 or 10 years old o Accuracy of prediction is much greater with the infant who has a severe disability and exhibits clearer signs of impairment in developmental status and progress in psychomotor areas, whereas a mild disability presents the greatest challenges to early screening • Another concern involves the factors evaluated – o Valuable predictive information may be obtained by evaluating environmental factors, in addition to examining the child’s developmental status (e.g. socioeconomic status, parental education and occupation, parents’ language style, their attitudes about achievement and general involvement with the young child) 7 8 Genetics, Other Assessment and Prevention Issues • Early identification of disability or risk conditions is important and, in many cases, enhances the probability of a favourable intervention outcome • Idea of prevention focuses particularly on pregnancies, anticipated pregnancies, or new born children who are thought to be at risk for intellectual disabilities o Pregnancy situations (e.g. trauma to fetus from environmental circumstances like toxins, drugs, alcohol, radiation) are at greater risk for developmental accidents or disruption of the normal developmental processes o Known genetic conditions have some probability of being transmitted to the child and cause some level of intellectual disabilities (e.g. Phenylketonuria represents a circumstance that is open and responsive to prenatal screening and intervention) o High-risk circumstances may also occur that seem to be related to parental status, such as age (e.g. certain types of Down syndrome, actual genetic anomalies occur in the developing fetus that appear to be related to matters like maternal age) • One of the negative outcomes of early assessment is labeling – potential for harm is even greater if a label is attached to a youngster in infancy o To avoid labeling, child care workers must move to behaviour and skill- oriented descriptions o The negative effect of assessing a young child, stigmatizing the child with a label, and doing nothing in the form of positive action beyond that is unimaginable Early Life Assessment Prenatal • One area of dramatic development involves prenatal assessment and detection of intellectual disabilities – such very early assessments are now considered essential to monitoring fetal status 8 9 • During pregnancy most common assessment involves routine monitoring of the physical condition of mother and fetus by the obstetrician or other trained health care personnel o Can use technology to assess information about the fetus; o another portion of this assessment employs low levels of technology and includes a detailed record of the mother’s family and medical history o In addition the mother’s blood pressure, uterus size, urine status and other indicators are monitored throughout the pregnancy to ensure that no symptoms are present that would signal danger for the fetus or the mother o Mother’s diet may be altered and medication provided for any deviations from optimum condition for fetal development • High-risk pregnancies are more frequent among women who cannot afford adequate health care or who don’t have adequate resources • If family or medical history suggests that a particular problem may occur (i.e. an inheritable disorder), routine monitoring is not sufficient • Accurate diagnosis is possible for variety of hereditary disorders (e.g. down syndrome, galactosemia, Gaucher’s disease, maple syrup urine disease, PKU, Tay Sachs disease) • Strong arguments can be made for evaluation of all pregnant women over 40 to
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