Assessment and Intervention: Volume 24


Table of contents

(18 chapters)

The purpose of this chapter is to review our findings related to the question “Do outcomes related to dynamic assessment on a cognitive measure predict reading growth?” Our discussion related to the predictive validity of such procedures focused on outcomes related to a battery of memory and reading measures administered over a three-year period to 78 children (11.6 years) with and without reading disabilities (RD). Working memory (WM) tasks were presented under initial, gain, and maintenance testing conditions. The preliminary results suggested that maintenance testing conditions were significant moderators of comprehension and vocabulary growth, whereas probe scores and gain testing conditions were significant moderators of nonword fluency growth. Overall, the results suggested that the dynamic assessment of WM added significant variance in predicting later reading performance.

We write this chapter using a historical discourse, both in the chronology of research and in the development that has occurred over the years with curriculum-based measurement (CBM). More practically, however, we depict the chronology in terms of the sequence of decisions that educators make as they provide special services to students with disabilities. In the first part of the chapter, we begin with a pair of seminal documents that were written in the late 1970s to begin the story of CBM. In the second part of the chapter, we begin with the first decision an educator needs to make in providing special services and then we continue through the chronology of decisions to affect change in learning for individual students. In the end, we conclude with the need to integrate these decisions with multiple references for interpreting data: normative to allocate resources, criterion to diagnose skill deficits, and individual to evaluate instruction.

Since its first appearance in policy, the diagnostic construct of learning disability (LD) has struggled to demonstrate its validity. Any diagnostic construct requires the operationalization of a “true positive” diagnosis to permit strong analyses of diagnostic accuracy and associated intervention outcomes. Because there is no “true positive” definition for LD, diagnostic accuracy and outcome research are disparate and difficult to translate into meaningful actions for diagnosticians and intervention teams in schools. In this chapter, a new framework of decision making centered on consequential validity, evidence-based education, and shared decision making is proposed for evaluating the relative costs and benefits of alternative actions when making decisions about whether to conduct assessment or intervention, and what assessments or interventions to implement.

Very often the diagnostic process provides only a descriptive label of the disorder. A useful diagnosis must reach the precise description and the functional interpretation of the deficits shown by a given individual. To this aim, four separate but intertwined steps are required: (1) clinical interview to collect personal and clinical anamnesis and to figure out the sociocultural context; (2) screening tests to describe the general cognitive picture and to detect the impaired functions; (3) standardized batteries to categorize the specific cognitive disorders according to the accredited taxonomies; (4) ad hoc investigation to identify the impaired cognitive components in the individual patient according to a sound theoretical model of the functional architecture of the cognitive processes. Only doing in this way, personalized educational and rehabilitative interventions may be planned and specific goals can be achieved.

This study compares two methods of data collection for students' social behaviors. One method employed time sampling procedures, while the other method used handheld computerized devices and the Multi-Option Observation System for Experimental Studies (MOOSES) system. Both coding systems were used to assess social behaviors of students with emotional disabilities during writing instruction. The middle-school-aged students, all classified as having EBD, were enrolled in classes to improve their written expression. Students were assessed for on-task, off-task, and multitask behaviors. Results revealed some surprising differences. When students were relatively consistent with attendance and on-task behaviors, the methods yielded comparable results; however, when students were more disruptive and demonstrated more inconsistent behaviors, different patterns emerged. Implications and recommendations for future research and practice are discussed.

Many students with learning disabilities (LD) experience significant difficulties in developing writing proficiency. Early identification and intervention can prevent long-term writing problems. Early identification and intervention require reliable and valid writing assessments that can be used to identify students at risk and monitor their progress in response to intervention. One promising approach to assessing students' performance and progress in writing is Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM). In this chapter, we provide an overview of CBM. Next, we describe a theoretical framework for writing development, and discuss implications of this framework for developing writing assessments. We then describe current efforts to develop a seamless and flexible approach to monitoring student progress in writing in the early elementary grades, and highlight important directions for future research. We end with a discussion of how teachers might eventually use CBM to make data-based decisions to provide effective individualized interventions for students who experience writing difficulties.

Response to Intervention (RtI) models require valid assessments for decisions regarding whether a student should receive more intensive intervention, whether interventions improve performance, whether a student has improved sufficiently to no longer need intervention, or whether a student should be considered for a formal evaluation for special education. We describe assessment tools used currently in RtI models in reading in kindergarten through third grade, along with how these tools function in multiyear implementations of RtI. In addition to the measurement tools, we describe concerns regarding when RtI models are judged for their effects on reading improvement and the attrition that may inflate these results.

Comorbidity of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and reading disabilities (RD) is greater than what would occur by chance. Considering the well-documented adverse impact of both ADHD and RD on development, the presence of both conditions may lead to particularly poor outcomes for affected people. This chapter, which reviews 43 research studies carried out in the last decade that have focused on the link between ADHD and RD, is divided into two broad nuclei of contents. First, studies are described that contribute information about characteristics of the comorbid phenotype. Second, studies related to procedures directed toward evaluation and intervention in this problem are analyzed. The review carried out does not make it possible to extract definitive results on the exact nature of ADHD and RD comorbidity or, even less, reach conclusions about its causes. However, the literature-based evidence shows a cognitive profile of ADHD+RD characterized by failure of various functions that can produce more severe functional deficits and worse neuropsychological, academic, and behavioral outcomes. Furthermore, the analysis of the set of results from the studies shows a limited efficacy of pharmacological and psychopedagogical treatments, and highlights the need for continued research on this topic. From a clinical and educational standpoint, the conclusions derived from this review underline the importance of performing an exhaustive evaluation of children and adolescents with symptoms of ADHD and/or RD, in order to be able to plan interventions with greater possibilities of success in each case.

Promoting the self-determination of students, particularly adolescents, with disabilities has become best practice in special education and transition services. Research documents that students who leave school as more self-determined young people achieve more positive employment and independent living outcomes and experience a higher quality of life. Further, promoting self-determination can provide an entry point to the general education curriculum for students with disabilities, and instruction to promote self-determination can enable students to better engage with and learn in the general education curriculum. This chapter defines the self-determination construct as it applies to the education of students with disabilities, examines the importance of such instruction, and provides information with regard to prevailing practices in assessment and instruction to promote this outcome.

Relatively limited attention has been paid to the academic needs of students with emotional and behavioral difficulties. Effective interventions are needed to support these students academically, behaviorally, and socially. The purpose of the concurrent studies reported here was to investigate the effectiveness of academic support in writing for fourth- and fifth-grade students (six boys, two girls) and second- and third-grade students (seven boys, one girl) with writing and behavioral difficulties. The Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) approach was implemented as a tier-2 intervention within a comprehensive, integrated three-tiered model of prevention including academic-, behavioral-, and social-skills components. Students learned an on-demand writing strategy for their state writing-competency test. Dependent measures included number of story writing elements, total number of words written, and writing quality. Fourth- and fifth-grade students who completed the intervention improved in total number of story elements. There were mixed results for the total number of words written and writing quality. Second- and third-grade students did not improve their total number of story elements, total words written, or writing quality. Students in both studies scored the intervention favorably, while there were mixed reactions from teachers. Findings, limitations, and suggestions for future research are discussed. Implications for the construct of evidence-based practice (EBP) are also explored, including concerns regarding frequent assessment of writing throughout intervention regardless of stage of instruction in the SRSD model.

Adolescent students with disabilities often struggle with completing writing tasks efficiently. Until recently, most research regarding writing efficiency or fluency has examined production skills such as handwriting with young writers or examined how to use measures of fluency to assess student performance. In this chapter, 10 studies that directly address the impact of instruction on adolescents' writing fluency will be reviewed. Findings indicated that when teacher modeling and structured practice was provided for writing within a time limit, students' writing improved in the number of ideas or text parts written and in holistic quality. When measured, improvement generalized to a standardized writing fluency test. Implications for future research are noted.

The development of social and emotional competence for children and adolescents occurs in the context of relationships they have with adults and peers. For students with disabilities and those who experience significant behavioral risk, building and sustaining positive relationships with teachers is vital to the development of social competence. In this chapter, we focus on relationships between teachers and students within a developmental framework, examining characteristics of these relationships for children and youth with and without disabilities, and showing how the quality of those relationships can be assessed and improved to foster student engagement in school. The chapter is comprised of three main sections. First, we provide a developmental framework for the development of positive, sustaining relationships with teachers for youth with and without disabilities. Second, we review methods for assessing the quality of those relationships; and third, we describe effective interventions to support sustaining relationships among students with disabilities and their teachers and peers.

Findings are presented from a cohort program between a university and local school districts to prepare special-education personnel. Participants (N=164), who were from 15 different cohorts, responded to an online survey. Follow-up face-to-face interviews were conducted with a representative sample of 29 participants. Perceived benefits included improved social-emotional and academic support; improved pedagogical skills, including academic and behavioral strategies, collaboration, and feeling more acculturated to the school climate; and improved logistical and financial supports. Implications for use of cohorts in the preparation of special-education personnel are discussed.

Publication date
Book series
Advances in Learning and Behavioral Disabilities
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
Book series ISSN