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Get Ahead Kids - Vol. 4, No. 5 - September/October 2012

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Appropriate Assessment for All

By Amanda Tocci

In my private practice I see many children each week whose parents have deep rooted concerns regarding their child's academic progress. They will ask me why their child has not progressed, why they are struggling and most importantly why has their problem not been identified at the class level.

My response usually comprises of an education system that is failing our children not because they want to but because they do not know any better. This may seem a harsh comment but research is showing that there is a huge gap between what teachers emerge from university knowing and the real in class knowledge required to successfully identify, plan and treat children with difficulties.

For the child who is lucky to progress without intervention, to progress without difficulties, their school journey is fulfilling. However when we see over 15-30% of children in a class of 30 with learning difficulties, their journey is far from fulfilling. Isn't it time we knew that those children existed?

Learning difficulties can present in many forms, behavioral, academic and social exclusion, and many teachers know that these children exist, are able to identify those with difficulties but are unable to assist with intervention due to a lack of resources, lack of funding and lack of appropriate assessment.

Assessment and identification of children who exhibit possible tendencies must be paramount in any school.

With most learning difficulties being shown by children of average intelligence, we must give these children the same opportunities to develop as those with diagnosed and funded learning disabilities.

The only way to do this is to make sure that we assess children based on National Standard Testing, utilising assessment measures that have been extensively tested, are valid and reliable. Any assessment measure we use here in Australia must have been tested in an Australian setting and most importantly assessments measures used must reflect what we are testing. In other words, testing reading through a spelling test or a word reading test only will produce invalid and unreliable results.

Parents, if your child requires testing at school always ask what assessment measure they are using.

If you are not sure then the following are our best here in Australia.
Cognitive or IQ Assessment: WISC-IV
Literacy & Numeracy: WIAT-II

Appropriate Assessment Checklist

  • Schools need to assess & identify kids with learning difficulties
  • Allocate funds for kids with learning disabilities
  • Assess kids using valid & reliable National Standard Testing
  • Use assessment procedures standardised for Australian conditions
  • Use assessments that reflect substance to be tested

More Information

Amanda Tocci
Managing Director &
Literacy Specialist
Australian Literacy Clinic Pty Ltd.
P: 1300 869 905

Full Reading Checklist


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