3.1 Importance of Assessment at Pre- School and School level

Children can start preschool at any age, usually around age two or three, usually finishing up around age four or five. While there is usually only three years difference between the youngest preschool child and the oldest preschool child, they are three important, critical years for all different types of growth — think about what is "normal" for a 2-year-old and what is "normal" for a 5-year-old, from basic academics to physical capabilities, from emotional growth to social skills.

To offer assistance, guidance, and a baseline for teachers, parents, guardians, pediatricians, and any other medical or education professionals that your preschooler may encounter, many preschools often conduct internal preschool assessments.

And while there are standard tests available to preschool teachers and early childhood development experts, many preschools and daycares have their own assessments and qualifiers that they use.

Preschool teachers and early childhood development experts usually use some form of preschool assessment to evaluate how a preschool student is doing in various skill areas including:

Depending on the method used, the assessment can be formal or informal, but in most cases, your child won't notice anything different going on as they are usually conducted in the course of classroom activities.

Early childhood educators need to become aware of children’s individual interests and strengths and find ways to engage and expand them. They can do so by arranging for a rich variety of learning experiences that appeal to all the senses — visual, auditory, and physical — and by alternating individual, partnered, small group, and large group activities so that children experience various kinds of social interaction.

In early childhood programs, assessment takes place by observing children in daily activities and taking note of their skills, understandings, interests, vocabulary, and attitudes toward various tasks. It includes communicating with families regularly to learn about the circumstances that may affect classroom behaviors or interactions, such as personal or family illness, injury, and child-rearing beliefs and practices. While children exhibit a broad range of individual differences and personal interests, assessment should ensure that both boys and girls have opportunities to participate in a range of activities, from block building to musical, artistic, or dramatic play, in order to stimulate the development of spatial, artistic, musical, and verbal abilities in all children.

3.2 Developmental and Adaptive Behaviour Assessment

Developmental assessment tools often provide an estimate of the child’s developmental age, and typically anchor the child’s performance relative to a developmental continuum of tasks. These are particularly useful for two reasons when compared with the standardized instruments. First, framing a 10-year-old child’s behavior as similar to that of a preschool-age child rather than as significantly deviant from the normal 10-year-old provides a way to anchor the treatment to this developmental level rather than just focusing on deviant behaviors. Second, by defining a continuum of developmental tasks and identifying where the child falls on the continuum, treatment can be designed to promote the child’s movement along this continuum. This strategy is particularly relevant when considering social-emotional functioning. Because developmental instruments are more functionally based than standardized instruments, they are potentially less culturally biased, though there are still concerns related to the interaction between development and its expression within a particular culture. Here, we discuss two useful developmental assessment tools for clinical treatment planning.

Importance of the developmental assessment

Developmental assessments are usually done because of a concern that the child may have a developmental delay or disorder. It is important to include a developmental assessment when evaluating children with possible developmental problems because such assessments can:

      help identify possible developmental problems and the need for further diagnostic evaluation

      provide an objective description of the child's abilities and deficits (a functional assessment)

      determine eligibility for programs (such as early intervention programs)

      aid in planning for appropriate interventions.

Adaptive skills are the cognitive, motor, communication, social, and self-help skills that allow children to be as independent and responsible as is appropriate for their age. Some children develop these skills naturally over time, by watching their parents or siblings. Other children may need more direct instruction and practice to develop these milestones.

In children, adaptive development refers to the ability level of a child related to age appropriate life skills. These kinds of skills can be narrowly defined, such as self care, which might include feeding and dressing. However, children develop adaptive behaviors in many areas, such as community self sufficiency, personal responsibility, and social skills. What may be an appropriate skill at age 3 years will be very different from what might be considered optimal at 6 years of age. So feeding oneself with one’s fingers may be appropriate as a toddler, when at age 5 years, a child should be using a spoon for that same food. Adaptive development studies how a child is moving through the stages of skill development and whether that child needs assistance to stay up with their peers or meet their personal best outcomes.


3.3 Assessment Tools at Pre-School level – Upanayan, Aarambh, Portage, MDPS, FACP

Upanayan – A programme of developmental training for children with mental retardation
This is an assessment tool for young children. This programme covers children in the age group of 0-6 years. The programme consists of a checklist, a user manual, a set of activity cards and material for assessment and training.

The checklist covers five areas of development viz., motor, self-help, language, cognitive and socialization. Each domain has 50 items totaling upto 250. The items are arranged in a sequence based on normal development.

The activity cards are colour coded to separate each domain from the others. The manual contains a list of materials to be used during assessment. The record formats are provided to note the background information and the assessment data periodically. If a child performs an activity it is marked “A” and the child does not perform the task it is marked “B”.


The Upanayan Checklist

This list covers broadly the five areas of development and is arranged in the normal developmental sequence of a child.

It comprises a total of 250 skills as indicated  below.

      Motor -  50 skills

      Self help-  50 skills

      Language -  50 skills

      Cognition -  50 skills

      Socialisation-  50 skill

This checklist is used to assess the child as to the skills he performs and those he is yet to perform.

The Activity Card

These are in five parts , one part for each of the five developmental areas for easy identification, cards of the different areas are coloured differently.


      Step by step instruction to carry out various activities to train the child to acquire the required skills listed in the checklist.

      Illustrations of the child/ the teacher performing  the activities.

      A list of materials required for each activity.

      A long with activity cards on self help, a set of cards giving the linkages to the pre requisite skills relating to each of the skills in that area are provided.

      MATERIALS FOR ASSESSMENT AND TRAINING CONSIST of easily available toys and other materials for use in the assessment and the training of the child.

      The computer programme is an optional item of the package.

      It is inclined to assist the training programme a personal computer is required for using this programme.


The programme is computerized so that the parent can be given the respective activity cards needed for training their child. The programme is intended for home training in home based and center based intervention.



Arambh package has alternate activities suggested the child with disabilities in the age group 3 years to 6 years was developed by NIMH an funded by UNICEF . In 2002

The Arambh package contains


      Activity cards

      Kit material

      Policy make booklet

      Teachers manual





Primary School



Portage Basic Training Course for Early stimulation of pre-school children in India
This is an Indian adaptation as well as translain in Hindi of “Portage Guide to Early Education” by S.M.Bluma, M.Shearer, A.H.Frohman and Jean M.Hilliard (USA). It has also been translated in 9 Indian languages by CBR Network, Bangalore and is available in the form of CD.

Portage guide is basically a system for teaching skills to pre-school children with developmental delays. The portage project is a home based training system which directly involves parents in the education of their children in the early childhood ie., 0-6 years of age. The training is provided by a specially trained teacher or a public health worker with a special training and experience in the field of child development. However, the key person in the home based programme is parents/family members.

It can be used by para-professionals like the staff of anganwadis, balwadis, non-professionals like parents, siblings, professionals such as pre-school educators, psychologists, and doctors.

The portage checklist covers areas such as infant stimulation, self-help, motor, cognitive, language and socialization. In each area, the activities are listed in a sequential order corresponding to the age. In addition to the checklist, there are activity cards for each skill which explains the materials and procedure to be used to train the child. The checklist also provides age norms for each task on the margin which help the trainer estimate the age equivalence of the child’s functioning.

The first step is to check through the listed skills in all the areas and record the performance of the student against each skill under the column entry behaviour. There is also the provision to mark date of achievement and remarks. A separate provision is made (Activity chart) to record activities, achievement and targets. As the format accommodates daily and weekly recording of progress, there is close monitoring.

The checklist, activities and record formats are in the form of a booklet in English and Hindi.



Madras Developmental Programming System (MDPS)
Madras Developmental Programming System (MDPS) is a criterion referenced scale, which is used for assessment and programme planning for persons with mental retardation.

The scale contains 360 items grouped under 18 areas or domains, each domain having 20 items. They are motor skills (gross motor and fine motor), self-help skills (eating, dressing, grooming, toileting), communication skills (receptive, expressive), social interaction, functional academic skills (reading, writing, number, time, money), domestic behaviour, community interaction, recreation and leisure time activities, and vocational activities. Each domain has 20- items. The items are developmentally sequenced. The activities are sequenced in such a way that simple activities are listed first followed by complex ones. Items are stated as positive statements which are observable and measurable. The items listed are functional activities which normally occur in routine life of an individual.

There is a format which is used for recording the performance of the student periodically (I quarter, II quarter, III quarter) and the same can be communicated to family members and others who are involved in education of the student. On assessment, if student performs the activity, it is marked A, and if he does not perform the activity, it is marked B. The scale has provision for colour coding, i.e., `A’ marked in blue and `B’ in red. Each quarter the red can be covered by blue based on the progress. The tool also has a manual which helps in grouping and programming. This is useful for special teacher for periodic assessment and planning IEP.



Functional Assessment Checklist for Programming (FACP)

Functional Assessment Checklists for Programming (FACP) is an activity based checklist used for assessment and programming of children with mental retardation. The activities listed in the checklist are easy to understand, necessary for daily living, easily observable, age appropriate as far as possible and ultimately contribute to living independently in the community.

Grouping of students
The checklist covers content for various groups namely pre-primary, primary-I, primary-II, secondary, prevocational-I, prevocational-II and care group. The grouping is done based on ability and chronological age of the children. Keeping the principle of `zero reject’ in mind, the grouping is made for children of all degrees of mental retardation in the school going age ie., 3 to 18 years.

Preprimary - This group consists of children between 3-6 years of age. The coverage of content in the areas of personal, social and academic is more than with occupational area in this level.

Primary-I - Student who achieve 80% of the items in preprimary checklist are promoted to primary-I level and the age of the students entering in this class may be 7 years approximately. In some cases the students may continue one more year in preprimary to fulfill the pass criteria (For example, if a student who is 7 years has achieved about 60% on evaluation in primary checklist he may continue in the same class for a longer time and see whether he/she can achieve the said pass criteria, ie., 80%).

Primary-II - The students who do not achieve 80% of the items in the checklist in Preprimary level even after 8 years of age are placed in Primary-II. Presumably there are children with low functioning abilities. The content in the academic area is minimal for this group. This group covers children from 8-14 years. When they achieve 80% of the items in the primary-II checklist they are promoted to Prevocational-II. In some cases they may achieve 80% before the age of 14 years and may be promoted to secondary group. Even if they achieve less than 80%, at the age of 15, they will be promoted to Prevocational level II.

Secondary group - This group includes students between 11-14 years. It is a mixed group (ie., students promoted from both Primary I and II). On achieving 80% of the items in this class including the items in academic area, the student will be promoted to prevocational-I and those who achieve less than 80% will be promoted to prevocational-II.


Pre-Vocational I and II - Both the groups consist of students in the age group 15-18 years. The primary focus of training is on preparing students in basic work skills and domestic activities. Hence, the major content covered in the checklist are in the areas of occupational, social, and academics. However, the content coverage under academic area will be minimal or need based for prevocational-II group of students.

Mentally retarded persons over 18 years will be sent to vocational training units with their summative evaluation reports for further programming. This curriculum checklist does not cover the vocational area.

Care group - This group includes children with very low ability (bed ridden-profoundly retarded) and the items in the checklist focus on training them in performing partially, the basic skills such as drinking, eating, toileting, and basic meaningful motor movements and communication. If they continue to stay non-ambulatory as the age advances, the parent/caretaker may find it difficult to bring the child to school. In such cases, simultaneously preparation of caretaker for maintaining learned skills is necessary. It is good to have the children of this group distributed one each in each class starting from prevocational group. This would provide a stimulating environment for them. However, they should be assessed using care group checklist, irrespective of in which group they are placed.


The content in each checklist consists of the core areas of personal, social, academic, occupational and recreation. As children come from different cultures and ecological backgrounds, there is a provision for deletion and addition of curricular items in each area depending on the individual needs of a student. By doing so, the teacher plans an appropriate individualized curriculum for every student in her class.

The format is so designed that the programmer can enter assessment information (entry level) and the progress periodically (at every quarter) for about three academic years, as it is assumed that a student stays a maximum of 3 years in a given level. At the end, a table is given to note the progress of individual child in all the areas periodically after evaluation which may be transferred directly on to a progress report, which is also a component of FACP.



The checklist has a provision for recording the performance of a student on a continuum of 3 years. If a student performs an activity it is marked `+’ and if he does not perform it is marked `-‘. However, the student is provided with assistance in terms of prompts to assess the current level of a student. The prompts such as visual prompt, gestural prompting, modeling, physical prompt are provide during the assessment to see with which prompt he is able to perform. For example, if he is performed an activity with gestural prompt it is marked GP against that specific activity.

Items marked `Yes” (or +) are counted as a point, while the others such as PP, VP, NE are noted but not counted for points. As the ultimate aims is that of achieving independence in a given activity area, those activities the child performs independently or with occasional cueing only will be considered for quantifying into scores. The items marked NA are deleted from the total items to be learned while calculating percentage. Similarly, specific items added should be included for calculating percentage. Achievement of 80% of items in the checklist will be considered for promotion fro one level to the next level. For example, the children who achieve 80% of the items, in preprimary checklist will be promoted to the primary level. It is however, cautioned here that poor teaching should not reflect on the child’s lack of progress or inability to learn.

The items listed under recreation need not be counted for quantification as these items are interest based. The grades given include A = Takes initiative and participates effectively, B = Participates when others initiates, C = Involves self but not aware of rules, D = Observes with interest, E = Not interested (indifferent), NE = No Exposure. The grades as noted below illustrate the involvement of recreational activities in the child. Such scoring is in line with the system in regular schools. The cumulative score on the last page can be the grade that is obtained maximum among the recreational items. If more than one grading gets equal scores, the teacher may use her judgment and decide.

Writing progress report

Along with the provision of recording facility for recording the assessment and evaluation data periodically, there is also a provision for reporting the progress made by the student. This tool is comprehensive and easy to use by teachers as it has periodic monitoring facility and a simple format for writing brief programme also.


3.4 Assessment Tools at School Ages – MDPS, BASIC-MR, GLAD, Support Intensity Scale

Behavioural Assessment Scale for Indian Children with Mental Retardation (BASIC-MR)
This assessment tool is used for assessing the current level of behaviour and for programmme planning for children with mental retardation between the ages 3 to 16 years (or 18 years).

The assessment tool is divided into two parts - Part A and Part B.

The BASIC-MR Part A includes 180 items grouped under seven domains – motor, activities of daily living, language, reading and writing, number-time, domestic-social, prevocational-money. Each domain consists of 40 items. All items are written in clear observable and measurable terms and are arranged in increasing order of difficulty.
The BASIC-MR Part-B consists of 75 items grouped under ten domains – violent and disruptive behaviour, tempertantrums, misbehaves with others, self injurious behaviours, repetitive behaviours, odd behaviours, hyperactive behaviours, rebellious behaviours, antisocial behaviours and fears. The number of items in each domain varies.


Format of BASIC-MR (Part-A)
Each child with mental retardation may show different levels of performance on every items on the BASIC-MR, Part A. The six possible levels of performance under which each items can be scored are as follows. Use the record booklet to enter the scores obtained by the child on each item.
Level One: Independent (score 5) - If the child performs the listed behaviour without any kind of physical or verbal help, it is marked as independent and given a score of 5.
Level Two: Clueing (Score 4) - If the child performs the listed behaviour only with some kind of verbal hints. It is marked as “clueing” and given a score of 4.
Level Three: Verbal Prompting (score 3) - If the child performs the listed behaivour with some kind of accompanying verbal statements. It is marked as verbal prompting and given a score of 3.
Level Four: Physical Prompting (Score 2) - If the child performs the listed behaviour only with any kind of accompanying physical or manual help, it is marked as physical prompting and given a score of 2.
Level Five: Totally dependent (Score 1) If the child does not perform the listed behaviour currently, although he can be trained to do so. It is marked as totally dependent and given a score of 1.
Level Six: Not applicable (Score 0) - Some children may not be able to perform listed behaviour at all, owing to sensory or physical handicaps. Wherever an items is marked “not applicable”, it gets a score of 0.


Format of BASIC_MR (Part B)

The following is the criteria of scoring which need to be used for BASIC-MR (Part-B):

For any given child with mental retardation, check each items of the scale and rate them along a three point rating scale, viz. never (n), occasionally (o) or frequently (f) respectively given in the record booklet against each items on the scale.

·        If the stated problem behaviour presently does not occur in the child, mark “never” (n) and give a score of zero.

·        If the stated problem behaviour presently occurs once in a while or now and then, it is marked ”Occasionally” and given a score of one.

·        If the stated problem behaviour presently occurs quite often or, habitually, it is marked “frequently” and given a score of two.

Thus, for each item on the BASIC-MR, Part B, a child with mental retardation may get any score ranging from zero to two depending on the frequency of that problem behaviour. Enter the appropriate score obtained by the child for each item in the record booklet.


GLAD (Grade level Assessment Device)

Grade level Assessment Device (GLAD) is used for find out processing problem in children with learning problems in regular school who, many a time are suspected as mentally retarded. All the educational assessment tools described above are popularly used criterion referenced tools and have provision for programming and progress monitoring. In some schools, similar tests are developed by themselves and used to suit their needs. The point to keep in mind is that such tests should lead towards assessment of educational needs and provide link to training and formative evaluation. The teacher must be well trained and competent to use the tests.



The Supports Intensity Scale

A standardized assessment designed to measure the pattern and intensity of supports a person (16 years and older) with intellectual disabilities requires to be successful in community settings.

Developed by AAIDD over 5 year period from 1998 to 2003 in response to changes in how society views and relates to people with disabilities. Released in 2004.

Once administered properly it can provide a reliable framework to

      Foster positive expectations

      Focus on appropriate QoL enhancing activities

      Identify the requirements for planning & delivering person centred individualised supports

Strengths of SIS

      SIS is not an adaptive behavioural scale. Assessment tools of the past focused on skill deficits - what the person can’t do.

      The SIS is Strength Based. SIS reflects a new way of thinking about assessment, focusing on the support needs, not deficits.

      The Reliability and Validity of the SIS has been repeatedly demonstrated by research published in peer-reviewed journals.

      The SIS is consistent with the values of community inclusion, self direction, individual choice/control, and person centered services.

      It WORKS! The ability of the SIS to measure, with precision, the intensity of support needs for a given person relative to others with similar disabilities has been repeatedly verified over time.