Formal Assessment and Intervention with Learning Disabilities


Formal Assessments, used as part of overall and holistic assessment process in Education, can be very effective to help guide interventions for Learning Disabilities (LD).

What we want in Education, is to maintain a sense of consistency or reliability throughout the entire Education System.

However, Formal Assessments only look at part of the picture, and does not necessarily consider systemic issues. Further, they may focus on ‘problem-in-the-person’ and not the broader systems that affect the development and maintenance of academic success.

Some Formal Assessments may also be considered oppressive, and so therefore may inherently promote racial and cultural bias.

Formal assessment procedures may only provide enough evidence to allow for consideration of a narrow range of treatment techniques, depending upon how many variables that may be assessed. Yet rarely are student academic and personal issues ever caused by only one factor, and rarely does a single, unidimensional intervention work in actual practice. They may also place labels on clients that are meaningless.

I do support formal assessment when used in the proper ways and with other assessment techniques. I think that problems arise when Educators are unable to integrate and synthesize data from formal assessment with other interviewing and informal techniques to create proper ‘hunches’ that will lead to tentative ideas for intervention.

It is essential to find out what Formal Assessment procedures are being used, what information they will elicit, and how to best support your Learners with LD in the classroom. Next, it is important to assess your own worldviews surrounding what you think you know about the Learning Disability or about the information you are learning. Then you can go to the drawing board and begin to figure out what strategies need to be put into place to best support your learners.

Deborah McCallum

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