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ASSESSMENT INSTRUCTION AND INTERVENTION A Discussion of the Relationship between Research and Practice as it Relates to Assessment, Instruction and

Special Education Intervention in the Classroom There is a relationship between research and practice as it relates to assessment, instruction and special education intervention for those students determined to be at-risk for learning difficulties in the general education environment. Different forms of assessment and learning take place in the classroom. Educators need to use appropriate methods to properly assess students with special needs to ensure positive development. Past research shows that assessment has always been part of classroom education, but each generation aims to revitalize the assessment process, thereby altering classroom instruction (Spendlove, 2009). With the adoption of Common Core State Standards that encourage teachers to incorporate Universal Design for Learning, including those with disabilities, as a means for allowing all students to participate in the learning process by incorporating multiple modalities of learning, many states have also implemented Assessment for Learning (AfL) in general

education (Berry, 2009). AfL advocates assessment be a part of the everyday instruction process between the teacher and the student, rather than just a means of assessing learning at the end of a unit or course (Berry, 2009). In special education, the focus of assessment is on continual assessment and development of the student. Intervention techniques often include close monitoring assessment, allowing teachers to scrutinize student development in an effort to intervene in the learning process (Spendlove, 2009). This approach is similar to AfL in that the student is at the center of the learning experience. A teacher-centered perspective is the more traditional approach to assessment. It is focused on summative learning and assessment, with students taking exams on a periodic basis and development being assessed through academic scores alone (Black, Harrison, Marshall, &

ASSESSMENT INSTRUCTION AND INTERVENTION William, 2004). This approach, while still prevalent, tends to be less well-supported by current research as it does not allow for continual development, effective monitoring, or intervention opportunities for struggling students (Morris & Mather, 2008). The move away from the traditional teacher-centered approach has evolved through assessment theory and has urged educators toward a learning process that is more student-centered (Black et al., 2004). Over the past two decades, a student-centered perspective has increased in popularity as schools have realized that students individual needs must be the main focus in the classroom (Tomlinson, 2004). Continual assessment through a variety of methods in the classroom, then, allows teachers to become much more hands-on, and to differentiate more clearly (Morris & Mather, 2008). In addition to AfL, Classroom Based Assessment (CBA) has been introduced.

CBA also ensures that assessment is not simply a method for allowing teachers to grade students, but one that provides information necessary to improve the quality of student learning, because it allows teachers to determine how students perform in authentic learning situations, without time constraints (Spendlove, 2009). Morris and Mather (2008) effectively studied the importance of intervention for students who have not developed appropriately, especially those in need of special education. Their study highlighted the fact that student-centered learning actually developed first in special education and included the processes of differentiation, and constant monitoring of performance. Studentcentered instruction has now spread to general education and has been adopted by many schools in an attempt to ensure that learning is individualized and effective (Black et al., 2004). Thus, according to Tomlinson (2004) teachers have had to develop new strategies while relying more heavily on different forms of formative assessment, such as AfL and CBA, to adjust for the needs of specific groups of learners in the classroom.

ASSESSMENT INSTRUCTION AND INTERVENTION Finally, some educators embrace experiential learning including Tomlinson (2004) who highlights the meaning and application of experiential learning as an assessment method that is efficient and convenient for both the assessor and the learner. The implication here is that the individual student must be at the heart of the learning process, which is quite similar in its

approach to intervention in special education in which the teacher is able to monitor development and adjust the learning process as needed to ensure the continual development of the individual student. It is apparent that changing attitudes toward assessment have had a dramatic impact on classroom instruction. The different perspectives, particularly concerning the need to ensure a student-centered focus, and the development of Assessment for Learning and Classroom Based Assessment, rather than a simple focus on summative assessment at the end of a unit, highlights that teachers are able to more appropriately monitor student development throughout the learning process in an effective and productive manner. Special education practices of continual assessment and improving learning through assessment has gradually affected general education as seen through the growing support for student-centered and experiential learning approaches.