Assessors of young children should have materials and a room arrangement appropriate for this age group. There should be child-sized furniture and a minimum of attractive objects within reach or purview aside from those intended for use during the assessment. In communicating with children, Kamphaus, Dresden, and Kaufman (1993) warned that assessors should "never give a child a choice unless they do in fact have one" (p. 60). In other words, do not begin a sentence with "Do you want to ... ?" Instead, begin with "Let's . . ." or "We are going to . . ."
If the model for the school psychologist is that of a data-oriented problem solver, then the model for good assessment is the problem-solving process. This includes the following steps (Surber, 1995):
• Collecting all available data, including reports from outside agencies
• Meeting with the referral source to develop —A problem statement
—Behavioral descriptions of the problem —Desired outcomes for the referred child —A description of the child's strengths and current functioning
—Development of referral questions in measurable terms in a way that is relevant to the child's educational functioning
A general outline of the assessment process appears in Table 1.1, which moves the assessor from the point of referral through the assessment to feedback, follow-up, and monitoring. Beside each step is a sample of the thought processing or decision making that may accompany a move to the next step.
When the assessment is triggered by a referral within a program, a referral process must be in place. Each program will have its own forms and procedures, but Form 1.2 provides one
Table 1.1 ASSESSMENT SEQUENCE
Referral What is the nature of the needs? How urgent? What are initial data needs?
Review File What has already been done? What do we know to date?
What are the assessment questions? What are the history and resources of the program and home? What aspects of the assessment issues are observable? What are the situational variables that relate? How does the child look in relation to the group and in relation to the situational demands?
What further data are needed to respond to the assessment questions? What further questions are there? What will be the responses to the referral questions? What do we know now?
Has the information addressed the referral questions? Do referrers have ideas about how to proceed? Do they know more now than before? Does everyone agree to the plan? Is everyone clear regarding what will be done, by whom, how, and when? What is needed to implement the plan? Are the plan implementers ready and able to proceed? Is the plan being done? How well did the plan work? What are the remaining questions? What else do we need to know?
Interview Key Figures Observe Child
Determine Further Assessment Needs Gather Data to Respond to Questions Feedback with Referral Sources
Develop Intervention Plan
Provide Consultation/Training as Needed Monitor Implementation Evaluate Response to Intervention Reassess as Needed
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