Academic testing gauges a student’s reading, writing, and arithmetic aptitudes. A thorough academic assessment utilizes both standardized and criterion referenced measures.
The goal of an academic assessment is to not only measure skill development and proficiency but also the components making up the foundation of the ability in question. Take reading for example:
A standardized reading comprehension test is insufficient to assess a student who appears to be struggling learning to decode, read fluently, or comprehend text. Instead the assessment needs to examine and measure the student’s spatial skills, rapid autonomic naming, and phonemic awareness—the triumvirate at the core of decoding and fluency. Second, testing needs to focus on decoding—how well the student is able to read words in isolation as well as if their decoding leans heavily on sight words and vocabulary. However decoding words in isolation is not “reading.” Next, the student should be made to read passages aloud and answer comprehension questions regarding what was read. Such questions can either be multiple-choice (recognition) or short answer (recall). Finally, silent reading rate and reading comprehension is assessed using a silent reading test.
Academic testing is often used to determine if further more comprehensive testing is warranted. If weaknesses or deficits are discovered then the next step is to identify the underlying factors and dynamics posing obstacles in order to create an effective plan of remediation.
Further testing would also be indicated if the findings are incongruent with the student’s classroom production and school performance.
When soliciting extended time on classroom exams, standardized tests, or the ISEE, PSAT, SAT, SAT 2, or ACT academic testing alone is not enough to document a student’s need for any sort of accommodation. The College Board and ACT require a comprehensive psycho-educational assessment and a report that clearly states the issue at hand, relates the student’s history, and offers convincing evidence documenting the need for extended time.
The assessment of each academic skill-set requires the measure and analysis of a hierarchy of components, moving from simplest and fundamental to integrated and complex.
1. Identification of letters (symbols) and accurate pairing of sounds with each symbol.
2. Decoding: Reading individual words in isolation.
3. Phonemic Awareness and Rapid Autonomic Naming.
4. Fluency (Rate and Accuracy) and Comprehension reading passages aloud.
5. Rate and Comprehension reading passages silently.
1. Pencil grip and control of writing motion.
2. Legibility of handwriting and spacing of written words.
3. Ability to write sentences from dictation.
4. Rate and ability to compose individual sentences without a prompt.
5. Rate and ability to produce well-written individual sentences based on a prompt.
6. Rate and ability to generate a cohesive narrative.
1. Counting forwards and backwards.
2. Identification of written numerals.
3. Automaticity of simple sums, differences, and products.
4. Mental computation facility.
5. Pencil and paper computation skills.
6. Conceptual Tracking: An executive function that enables one to move back and forth between concepts and operations.