I often get questions on how I make learning decisions regarding my students. The short answer is that I assess them all the time, the long answer is more complex than that. Today I am going to talk about assessment in the multiple disabilities classroom.
Assessment Tool/Curriculum: OATECA
In my state we use the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) extended standards to test students that are on the alternative testing tracks. When I first started teaching (in a different district than I am now) my district was one of the first to pilot the OATECA assessment and curriculum. OATECA is a comprehensive curriculum and measurement tool that is aligned to the DLM. It comes with an entire assessment kit and a series of 82 cognitive skills, 48 self help skills, and 33 job training skills as well as providing all of the materials needed to assess these skills. This makes it incredibly easy to find gaps in a students knowledge and helps you figure out what to target. I loved it from the get go! I loved it so much that when I moved to my new district I had asked for it.
Do I still need to make modifications?
Yes, I still do. As a multiple disabilities teacher my students have different complex mobility needs and I sometimes need to make allowance for that. The best part is that I can contact OATECA via email any time and they will help me create modifications that still maintain the validity of the instrument. You can see in the image below where this hypothetical student is a wheelchair user, so some of the early skills are marked off and not included in the skill count.
How often do you give the assessment?
Usually, 2-3 times a year. I always assess everyone right at the beginning of the year. Depending on when the students IEP is, I may give it again before their IEP and I always do one more round in may.
Data, Data, Data
What about the rest of the year? I use the information I got from my OATECA assessment and that is incorporated into the students goals. Then I get two points of data per week to track my students progress. The OATECA kit actually comes with all of the things you need to learn and practice these skills as well.
Having a tool like OATECA really helps me feel like I am doing a thorough job of pinpoint what my students need to work on most, so that we don’t have gaps in knowledge. The best part is that the entire assessment is mastery based. The student is only ever compared to themselves and the idea is to get as many skills mastered before graduation. This is how I do assessment in the multiple disabilities classroom.