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Evaluation and Observation in Education

An observation is strictly objective statement of what you see. There is no opinion to be stated in your observation. For example, “The teacher read the story XXX to the group of 4 children, A,B, C, and D. After reading each page, she showed the picture to the children. Children A and B sat quietly looking at the teacher and the pictures. Child C looked at the pictures sometimes, and sometimes played with her shoelaces. Child D never looked at the book and looked out the window during the entire activity.

 After page 2, the teacher asked Child C and D if they could see the pictures.” You can’t say A and B paid attention because you don’t know if they’re really listening or if they’re just looking in that direction, and you can’t say D isn’t listening, because he might be having seizures or he might be sick or tired and unable to focus. Be strictly objective. Evaluation is an assessment. In you evaluation you could say that A and B answered questions correctly and so the lesson appeared to be effective in keeping their attention. You could also say that the teacher calling on C and D gained C’s attention briefly but did not seem to effectively gain attention for D. See what I mean? Observation is objective statement of fact, evaluation is assessment

Observations – you can take written observation on the group of children, or an individual child, or look at a particular skill or ability (cutting with scissors, or fine motor skills), or to track social or interest areas of the child’s day etc. There are so many areas to generally observe during the course of a day.

When a teacher is using these observations for their individual planning they will usually observe a particular skill or ability that they are focusing on for the child. Then you would read the observation, evaluate whether the goal that you were programming for was reached and what follow up planning is needed.

 For example;  Scissor Skill Observation Jason. B 26-10-09

Jason held the scissors in his right hand using his thumb and first two fingers in the handle of the scissors. He held the sheet of paper in his left hand, and bringing the scissors toward the paper, he made several small ‘snips’ along the edge of the paper. He held up his work and called “finished”.

 Evaluation: Fine Motor Skills – Cutting with scissors. Jason displays skill in holding the scissors and uses them appropriately to make small snips into the paper, which is typical of his age.

Follow Up Planning: To extend Jason’s skill with scissors. Repeat this activity over the next two weeks to enhance and further Jason’s skill.

 Also – you mention a Daily Observation. I used these as a method of recording the success of planned activities, the behavior and input of the class (children), to add any comments from parents about the routine and program, and to document any changes that I might plan for the group or the room (might move the home corner outside next week as the children are enjoying dress ups and spending much of the play time in the home area) and to observe how YOU feel you went – what would you do differently, how did you manage particular events, highs and lows of the week etc.

  Why have an evaluation?

 A full and individual educational evaluation serves many important purposes:

 Identification. It can identify children who have delays or learning problems and may need special education and related services as a result.

 Eligibility. It can determine whether your child is a child with a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and qualifies for special education and related services.

Planning an Individualized Education Program (IEP). It provides information that can help you and the school develop an appropriate IEP for your child.

 Instructional strategies. It can help determine what strategies may be most effective in helping your child learn.

 Measuring progress. It establishes a baseline for measuring your child’s educational progress. The evaluation process establishes a foundation for developing an appropriate educational program. The public agency must provide a copy of the evaluation report and the documentation of determination of eligibility to the parent. Even if the evaluation results show that your child does not need special education and related services, the information may still be used to help your child in a regular education program.

What types of tests are available?

 There are many types of tests that schools use to measure student progress. Here are a few important terms parents may need to know.

 Group tests. Group achievement tests may not be used to determine eligibility for special services. They furnish information about how a child performs in relation to others of the same age or grade level, but they do not identify an individual student’s pattern of strengths and needs.

 Individual tests. Tests administered individually to your child can clarify the special education and related services your child needs to progress in school.

 Curriculum-based assessments (CBAs) or curriculum- based measurements (CBMs). These types of tests are developed by school staff to examine the progress a child has made in learning the specific materials the teacher has presented to the class. They can be useful tools for teachers and parents in determining whether learning is taking place, but they must never be used to determine eligibility for services.

 Standardized tests. Standardized tests are rigorously developed by experts to be used with large populations of students. The tests are administered according to specific standards. Standardized tests can evaluate what a child has already learned (achievement), or predict what a child may be capable of doing in the future (aptitude).

 Norm-referenced tests. Norm-referenced tests are standardized tests that compare a child’s performance to that of peers. They can tell you where your child stands in relation to other children of the same age or grade.

 Criterion-referenced tests. These tests measure what the child is able to do or the specific skills a child has mastered. Criterion-referenced tests do not assess a child’s standing in a group but the child’s performance measured against standard criteria. They may compare a child’s present performance with past performance as a way of measuring progress.

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