When I first heard about taking an assessment class I figured it would be a very long quarter filled with a huge amount of necessary, but very dry, information concerning testing students for special education. I was pleasantly surprised with not only the class, but with the intriguing area of assessment. I had always thought of assessing as purely testing, but I found it is a tool to gain a deeper understanding of students’ weaknesses and strengths. I also realized that most assessments aren’t really “tests” in the traditional manner, and instead of trying to give a “grade” or label, they give us information to better help the student.
The hands-on approach to this class helped me to better recognize the different kinds and varieties of assessments used. Given the opportunity to employ several assessments (WJIII, the Brigance, DIBELS, WIAT) firsthand in and out of the classroom allowed me to not only judge what worked well or not, but with whom they were appropriate for. One of the realizations I had was how difficult it is to get objective and accurate results, which are essential to truly assist the student in addressing needs. Being in a special education environment I realize the stigma of classification and assessment results, but I also recognize the importance of valid data that can help set goals and direct instruction.
Many of the classes I have taken play an important role in my future as an educator, but the approach and content of this class was one of the most significant learning experiences I’ve had. I might not be giving every assessment we learned about in class, but being able to interpret and clarify results will also be a benefit in the classroom. I feel more confident now that I can take results and remarks in documents, such as an IEP, and create strategies and curriculums to match the students’ best interest.
I will find it interesting to see how previous assessment from other sources match or disagree with assessments that I give in the future. I realize that I’ve only scratched the surface, and I’m sure this is only the start of what I will be learning in the future. I perceive assessments as one of the many tools in aiding teachers better understand their students, and I want to take full advantage of this.