Formal & Informal Assessments for Learning Disabilities

Instructor: Sharon Linde
Teachers should use both formal and informal assessments to determine interventions for learning disabilities. This lesson will discuss both informal and formal methods of determining academic skill development and identifying students with special needs.

A Closer Look at Learning Disabilities

Jodie has a student, Matt, in her first grade classroom who struggles with skills and concepts. Matt is a hard worker and is eager to please, but he isn't making progress like the rest of the students. This is Jodie's first year as a teacher, and she isn't sure what's going on with Matt. It's only three months into the school year, but she feels she should do something now before he gets too far behind. How does she know if Matt's struggles are related to maturity, need simple interventions, or are a learning disability?

Learning disabilities are defined as student's inability to make progress on level with peers, which is not the fault of a physical handicap. Students diagnosed with learning disabilities struggle to understand concepts in a typical classroom and through standard instruction. To be diagnosed with a learning disability, the student undergoes a multi-step process that begins with a series of assessments, information gathered through multiple sources such as tests and observations. Let's take a closer look at some of these assessments.

Assessments for Learning Disabilities

The fact that Jodie caught Matt's struggles early is important. Interventions, or establishing systems to help a student in need, should happen as early as possible in the learning process. In order to gather more information about Matt, Jodie will use assessments. Jodie will begin by using informal assessments, a method of collecting information she can use to monitor progress and make decisions about Matt's learning struggles. These include observations, tests, classwork, or projects. More on that in a bit.

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