Unit 1: Educational Assessment

1.1 Concept, meaning, definitions of educational assessment

1.2 Types and approaches of educational assessment

1.3 Educational assessment at Pre-school-Upanayan, Aarambh, FACP, Portage & MDPS

1.4 Educational assessment at School Stage – FACP, FACP (PMR), MDPS, BASIC–MR, CAP

1.5 Educational assessment at Pre-Vocational Stage – FACP, MDPS, BASIC-MR, and Vocational stage – VAPS, BASAL-MR







1.1 Concept, meaning, definitions of educational assessment

Assessment is a continuous process for understanding individual and programming required services for him. It involves collection and organization of information for specifying and verifying problems and for making decisions about a student.

The decision may include a wide spectrum ranging from screening and identification to the evaluation of teaching plan.

The selection of assessment tools and methods vary depending on the purpose for the assessment is carried out.

Wallace, Larsen, & Elkinson-1992 - “Assessment refers to the process of gathering and analyzing information in order to make instructional, administrative, guidance decision for an individuals.”                                           

Why Assessment?

Taylor (1981) answers by explaining the stages of assessment

  Stage 1 – To screen and identify those students with potential problems.

  Stage 2 – To determine and evaluate the appropriate teaching programme and strategies for particular student.

  Stage 3 – To determine the current level of functioning and educational needs of a student

Purpose of assessment

Any one who is involved in assessment process should know clearly the purpose for which he is conducting the assessment. Knowing this is very important as it decides the type of assessment tools and means of gathering information for decision making.

For example, if the purpose is only for screening and identification, we use a short screening schedule, for programme planning we use a checklist which helps in assessing the current performance level and selection of content for teaching.

There are many purposes of assessment. They are:

1.     Initial screening and identification,

2.     determination and evaluation of teaching programmes and strategies (pre-referral intervention),

3.     determination of current performance level and educational need,

4.     decisions about classification and programme placement,

5.     development of individual educational programmes (including goals, objectives and evaluation procedures).

6.     evaluation of the effectiveness of the Individualized Educational Programme.

Initial screening and identification

·        The students who require special attention or special educational services are initially identified through assessment procedures. The procedures involve either informal procedures such as observation or error analysis or formal procedures such as achievement or intelligence tests. In other words, assessment is used to identify the children who warrant further evaluation.

·        Assessment is also used to screen children who are considered to be “high risk” for developing various problems. These children would not have yet developed deficiencies requiring special education, but they do exhibit certain behaviours that suggest problems in future. Identifying such children allows continuous monitoring of problem areas and designing of stimulation programme if required to prevent the problem.

Assessment for initial identification purpose, therefore is used to identify individual who might need further detailed assessment or who might develop problems in future. Further, it identifies individuals who with some type of immediate remedial programme might be able to cope with the problem.

Evaluation of teaching programme and strategies (pre-referral)
One of the important roles of assessment is to determine appropriate programme and strategies. For this purpose, information is used in four ways.

Determining of current performance level and educational need
The assessment of current performance level of a student in subjects or skills is essential to state the need for special education programme. This information helps the teacher or examiner.

Decision about classification and programme placement: The assessment data is used for classification and placement of students with special needs in appropriate special educational programmes. Theoretically, individuals are classified to indicate similarities and relationships among their educational problems and to provide nomenclature that facilitates communication within the field (Taylor, 1993). Based on assessment information students are classified and suitable placement decisions are made. For example, a 6 year old child who is diagnosed to have mental retardation needs a placement in special education programme which provides education to children with mental retardation.

Development of the Individualized Educational Programme: The most important use of assessment information is to determine the goals and objectives, and strategies to teach children who are identified to have special educational needs. As each individual child’s needs are different, we have to plan educational programme that meets the needs. A systematically planned individualized educational programme is a blueprint for teachers to follow.

Evaluation of the effectiveness of the Individualized Educational Programme: Evaluation procedures are also specified in Individualized Educational Programme along with goals, objectives, methods and materials. Using these procedures, the teacher has to periodically monitor the progress made by the student. The monitoring of the programme gives feedback (positive or negative) to both teacher and student. Based on the type of feed back, the teacher either changes her plan or continues the same plan or select a new activity. For example, on periodic evaluation if the child shows improvement, the teacher will continue with her plan, if no improvement is shown she may have to make changes in IEP.


Assessment is a continuous process



1.2 Types and approaches of educational assessment

Norm Referenced Assessment
Norm Referenced Assessment or Norm Referenced Testing (NRT) is the more traditional approach to assessment. These tests and measurement procedures involve test materials that are standardized on a sample population and are used to identify the test takers ability relative to others. It is also known as formal assessment.

Norm referenced assessment is defined as a procedure for collecting data using a device that has been standardized on a large sample population for a specific purpose. Every standardized assessment instrument will have certain directions that must be followed. These direction specify the procedure for administering the test and ways to analyze and interpret the results and reporting them. Examples of the more commonly known formal assessment devices are the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for children – Revised (WISC-R), The Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Ability (ITPA), The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test and the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test – Revised (PPVT-R) and Peabody Individual Achievement Test (PIAT).

Advantages of norm-referenced assessment
Norm referenced tests are widely used in special and remedial education for many reasons.

  First, the decision of categorizing the children as exceptional or special is mainly based on the test results of NRTs.

  Second, it is easy to communicate test results to parents and others unfamiliar with tests.

  Third, norm-referenced tests have received the most attention in terms of technical data and research. They are specifically useful in problem identification and screening.

Disadvantages of norm-referenced assessment
The use of norm referenced tests data for the purpose of educational programming is questioned in many instances for the following reasons.

  Information obtained from norm-referenced testing is too general to be useful in everyday classroom teaching. Many educators disregard the prognosis and interpretative types of data provided by standardized tests because the information is often not directly applicable to developing daily teaching activities or interventions. What does knowing a child’s WISC-R score or grade equivalent in reading specifically tell a teacher about what and how to teach? For instance, what is important is to know whether the child needs to learn initial consonants or is he having difficulty with comprehension.

  NRTs tend to promote and reinforce the belief that the focus of the problem is within the child. It is because the primary purpose of NRTs is to compare one student with another. However, although a child may differ from the norm, the real problem may not be within the child but in the teaching, placement or curriculum. Educators must begin to assess teacher behaviours, curriculum content, sequencing and other variables not measured by norm referenced tests.

Criterion-referenced assessment (CRTs)
Criterion-referenced assessment is concerned with whether a child is able to perform a skill as per the criteria set, or not. In contrast to norm referenced assessment, which compares one persons performance to others, criterion referenced assessment compares the performance of an individual to the pre-established criteria. In criterion-referenced test, the skills within a subject are hierarchically arranged so that those that must be learned first are tested first. In maths, for example addition skills would be evaluated (and taught) before multiplication skills. These tests are usually criterion referenced because a student must achieve competence at one level before being taught at a higher level.

Advantages of criterion referenced assessment
The criterion-referenced test results are useful:

  to identify specific skills that need intervention. 

  to determine the next most logical skill to teach as the implications for teaching are more direct with criterion referenced tests.

  to conduct formative evaluation, that is, the performance of the student is recorded regularly or daily when the skills are being taught.

This makes it possible to note the student progress, to determine if intervention is effective and to help decide the next skill to be taught if achieved, if not to decide what other strategies or methods and materials are to be used for teaching.

Disadvantages of criterion-referenced assessment

  Establishing the passing criteria for a specific skill is a problem in criterion-referenced testing. For example, if a test were needed to determine, whether student had mastered high school mathematics, there is a problem of determining exactly which skills should be included in the test. Further, should a student pass the test if 90% of the questions are answered correctly or only if 100% are correct? These decisions must be carefully considered, because setting inappropriate criteria may cause a student to struggle unnecessarily with a concept.

  It is difficult to decide exactly which skills should be included in the test.

  There is also a problem that the skills assessed may become the goals of instruction rather than selecting the skills that the child should know. Due to this, the teachers may narrow down their instruction and teach in accordance with what is measured on the test rather than what is truly required for the child to know.

Curriculum-Based Assessment (CBA)

The concept of curriculum based assessment is not new and has been employed for a number of years. CBA has been developed as a means to cope with low-achievers and children with special needs in regular schools. Further, it fits into the non-categorical model that is assessment is focused on testing curriculum-based skills and not on testing for labeling purpose.

The CBA aims to identify children’s educational needs and the most appropriate forms of provision to meet those needs. Sality and Bell (1987) describes educational needs as “behaviours which a person lacks which are necessary in order to function effectively and independently both in the present and in the future”.

The starting point for conducting CBA is the child’s classroom. It is the suitability of this environment and the child’s interaction with it that is assessed and not the child.

CBA has been defined by Blankenship and Lilly (1981) (quoted in Sality and Bell, 1987; pg.35) as the practice of obtaining direct and frequent measures of a student’s performance on a series of sequentially arranged objectives derived from the curriculum used in the classroom.
It helps in finding out the current level of a student in terms of the expected curricular outcomes of the school. In other words, assessment instrument is based on the contents of the student curriculum. Some types of CBA are informal, while others are more formal and standardized.

Procedure followed in developing CBA


Teacher Made Test (TMT)

A teacher-made test is an alternative to a standardized test, written by the instructor in order to measure student comprehension. 

Teacher-made tests are considered most effective when they are implemented as part of the education process, rather than after the fact.

1.3 Educational assessment at Pre-school-Upanayan, Aarambh, FACP, Portage & MDPS

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.

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.


1.4 Educational assessment at School Stage – FACP, FACP (PMR), MDPS, BASIC–MR, CAP

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.


Functional Assessment Checklist Program for Profound Mental Retardation FACP (PMR)

Cognitive Abilities Profile (CAP) toolkit

The comprehensive CAP Administration and Scoring Manual will introduce you to the CAP and its general guidelines, followed by a detailed section-by-section scoring guide that will give you step-by-step guidance on exactly how to fill out each part of the Record Form.

When you have completed your Record Form, the manual will show you how to create a Summary Form profile and IP from a Record Form. In this way, the Summary Form will enable you to distil all of the vital Record Form information into a one-page summary profile and IP.

The Cognitive Abilities Profile (CAP) toolkit consists of:

·        The CAP Administration and Scoring Manual.

·        CAP Record Forms (a pack of 20).

·        Summary Forms (a pad of 40).

Taken together, these three elements will provide you with the essential framework and guidance to enable you to carry out a CAP assessment, record, summarise and put in place an effective intervention plan (IP).

This important Cognitive Abilities Profile (CAP) toolkit is grounded in developmental psychology and underpinned by dynamic assessment (DA) and metacognitive approaches to teaching and learning. For example, it emphasises the importance of metacognition in teaching and learning, which has been widely shown in modern education research to be a key factor in the understanding of what works most effectively in the classroom.

1.5 Educational assessment at Pre-Vocational Stage – FACP, MDPS, BASIC-MR, and Vocational stage – VAPS, BASAL-MR

Behavioural Assessment Scales For Adult Living-Mental Retardation

The BASAL-MR marks the culmination of several years wok by Drs. Reeta Peshawaria, D.K.Menon, and their colleagues. The scale was designed to provide a means of assessing the functional abilities of adult with MR. by focusing on practical abilities as well as problem behavior, the scale provide an alternative assessment that should be very useful for families and professionals/ this instrument builds on the author’s previous work in developing a scale for child assessment(BASIC-MR) and reflects their families.

BASAL-MR have been designed to elicit systematic information on the current level of competencies/behaviors in adults with mental retardation. The scale are suitable for the use with mentally retarded adults who are 18 years and above.

It has been developed in two parts:

Part A: The items included in part A of the scale help to assess the current level of skills/behaviors/competencies in the adult. It can be used as a curriculum guide for planning training programmes  based on the individual’s need.  It consists of 120 items grouped under 8 domains:

      Personal care and appearance (PA)

      Food management(FM)

      Household tasks and responsibility(HR)

      Community and leisure(CL)

      Sexuality (S)


      Functional literacy(FL)


There are 15 items in each domain

Part B: The item included in this part of the scale helps to assess the current level of problem behavior in the adult. It helps to identify and assess the maladaptive behavior/problem behaviors  in mentally retarded adults. It consists of 109 items grouped under 12 domains:

      Physical harm toward others

      Damages property

      Misbehaves with others

      Temper tantrums

      Self-injuries behaviors

      Repetitive behaviors

      Odd behaviors

      Inappropriate social behaviors

      Inappropriate sexual behaviors

      Rebellious behaviors

      Hyperactive behaviors


The number of item within each domain varies.

Vocational Assessment and Programming  System for Person with Mental Retardation

This scale was developed at NIMH under the supervision of Ms. A.T. ThressiaKutty in 1998. The scale is developed to assess the general ability, vocational potential and work behaviour of the mentally retarded adults. This aims at assessing the vocational potentiality of an adult with MR and helps in planning and execution of vocational training. It provides information on work readiness skills, helps to identify suitable jobs in the community.

It is useful for formative and summative evaluation of the vocational training also. It could be used in training set up in the institution, sheltered workshop or workshop or open employment system while job training.

Description The scale is mainly divided into 4 parts :-

1. Vocational Profile.

2. Generic Skill Assessment Cheklist.

3. Job Analysis Format.

4. Work Behaviour Assessment Checklist


      Provides information on jobs selected

      Identifies areas in which training is needed

      Emphasizes on the job training.

      Evaluates work related skills and work behaviour.

      Targets employment for all trainees who are assessed.

      Extends support for job retention.