Information Gathering: What to Include When Assessing Student

Parent report of:

Current concerns about student’s learning
(i.e., “What are your biggest concerns for J at this time?)

Perception of student’s strengths and challenges
( i.e., “Describe for me what he’s really good at – what he loves – and what can be more difficult for him.)

Developmental history, including:

Any delays in walking/talking/toileting)

Any loss of skills (like talking for a few months and then not talking for weeks)

How long have you been concerned about the student’s development?

Anybody ever give opinions about the sources of early difficulties?

What interventions have you tried and how did they work?

Health history
(i.e., does the student have any current medical conditions? A past history of any medical conditions or complications?)

Autism symptoms – This information is usually obtained through a structured behavioral checklist (such as the Social Responsiveness Scale), which can serve as the basis for an interview or which can be completed by the parent independently.

Direct observation of student in a variety of daily school activities, including:

Different learning situations

  • Large group
  • Small group
  • Independent work

Different levels of structure & predictability

  • Organized/directed by teacher (more structured)
  • Self-guided/directed by students (less structured; e.g., free time, recess)

Different levels of challenge or demand

  • Tasks/activities that are easy/preferred by student
  • Tasks/activities that tend to be difficult or are less preferred by student

Different social contexts

  • Alone
  • With an adult
  • With peers

Direct Assessment of student’s current functioning in:

  • Overall development/cognition
  • Verbal problem-solving
  • Nonverbal problem-solving
  • Receptive communication
  • Expressive communication
  • Motor skills
  • Academic achievement
  • Adaptive, functional skills

Exploration of challenging behaviors

  • Internalizing problems (e.g., anxiety, depression)
  • Externalizing problems (e.g., aggression, tantrums, self-injury)
  • Have you identified all potential safety concerns?