Testing life skills?

Discussion in 'Special Education Archives' started by jschafer10, Jul 21, 2006.

  1. jschafer10

    jschafer10 Rookie

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    Jul 21, 2006

    Alright everyone!
    Here's my next question of the day! Before I took my Life Skills position, I was a resource teacher on a Life Skills committee in my old district. One major topic of conversation was TESTING! How do we test these kids will be in the L.S. classrooms??? Has anyone found tests relevant to the area of Life Skills? How do we measure their progress? These are just a few things that were thrown about during our meetings. For example, with the resource kids, we used the Brigance to assess various subjects, there's tons of reading tests, which at 1:30am are NOT in my head right now:eek: ! Is there a standardized test of skills that we can use? Or our your tests are teacher created? I'm just trying to explore all my options before school starts!
    Thanks!
    jschafer10:thanks:
     
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  3. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

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    Jul 21, 2006

    I'm sure if you looked, you could find some sort of standardized assessment for life skills--I personally wouldn't bother. Life skills are a process and you want to assess them as authentically as possible, and most commercially available assessments will be (I would imagine) largely paper-and-pencil based. Use of such an assessment with most students will not reflect accurate results.
    If you found an assessment that was process-based and incorporates an authentic environment, I would be interested in that.

    Life Skills students are primarily assessed through monitoring of IEP goals. Additionally, with NCLB changes, Life Skills students are either included on standard district/state testing or assessed using alternate assessment methods (usually a portfolio). This will be impacted by the student's functioning level, academic level, and the goals being pursued (i.e. what type of diploma). When completing such an alternate assessment, you will really understand the SIGNIFICANT short comings of assessment in this field--in most states, alternate assessments makes the teacher jump through hoops and is a small reflection, if any, on the students' actual abilities/progress. Testing decisions (i.e. yes or no to alternate assessment) are typically made by the IEP team at the annual meeting. Some states (such as Virginia) have also incorporated a "middle level" alternate assessment method for many students.

    That being said, you COULD use standardized tests in academic areas (like reading) to obtain present skills levels--but remember that students with disabilities like autism often do not test well, so scores are often not accurate. And, there are some assessments floating around that are used fairly regularly--the ABLLS is the big thing right now for students with autism (though I don't love it), the VACG is still being used for vocational assessments (and there is a prevocational option as well, though neither accurately reflects a classroom and is better suited to a workshop), some of the curriculums like Edmark may include testing components, etc. And depending on your district, you may be required to do any number of assessments, though you may not find all or most of them helpful.

    Hope that helped a little; IEP goal monitoring and informal observations will be really big parts of your classroom assessment, I think.
     
  4. thelonius

    thelonius Rookie

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    Jul 23, 2006

    I taught life skills to high school students in the past. Since most of the students were in the process of making the transition from their lives as students to life after high school, most of the things I taught were things they could relate to the outside world.

    For example: since most of the students had part-time jobs, I taught a math lesson with apartment hunting. The students brought in ads from the newspaper, and I taught them how to calculate the initial costs: security deposit + first (and sometimes last) months rent, and any broker's fees if they ever went through a realtor. They also made calculations, and real-life decisions on the ideal percentage amount that they could pay for rent, given their monthly income from their jobs, etc. Most of the worksheets and tests were teacher-made, and it created a students' permanent product. It's through the students' own work that provided the basis, whether or not, their IEP goals had been met or not.

    Good luck.
     
  5. bcblue

    bcblue Comrade

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    Jul 26, 2006

    My OT recently unearthed the School Function Assessment (SFA), which measures how well the student is able to function within their school environment--their mobility, communication, use of materials, access to curriculum, etc. It is not a test that is administered directly to the student as much as recording and assessing observations and knowledge the team already has about the student. (We've done it my OT, SPL, PT and I [sped tchr] together). Might be worth looking at.
     
  6. TeachBD

    TeachBD Rookie

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    Jul 31, 2006

    I don't remember the name of the test, but last spring I had to fill out a question form for one of my students and it was all based on life skills--from the basics of toileting and grooming up to money and job related skills. Check with your social worker!
     
  7. jschafer10

    jschafer10 Rookie

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    Jul 31, 2006

    thanks everyone for all the help! The countdown in on to the first day of school (Aug. 17 for me!) I have a couple days of new teacher training since I'm new to the district...so hopefully that will help out a lot!
    Thanks!!!:D
     
  8. teachersmittie

    teachersmittie Rookie

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    Jul 31, 2006

    Hi !

    My first day of school is August 24, as a Special Day Class Teacher in a Junior High School for kids with moderate/severe autism. I just completed a two-year credentialing program in California. As one poster also mentioned, my focus is on the student's IEP goals and objectives as a baseline. My role is to emphasize functional academics (aka life skills) such as sequencing, time, money, initiating-maintaining-terminating conversations; and community based instruction (e.g., shopping at a local store; taking public transportation; etc.). I was given all sorts of assessment forms to use as a student teacher, but I found it came down to the individual student - thus my rationale for the IEP approach to assess their "present level of performance" in these areas. Again, I am new, and gathering info as well. Keen observation skills of behavior in authtentic environments was consistently touted as key to identifying the best intervention strategies. I hope it helps you in some way. I am certainly learning a lot just from reading all of the replies to your initial post.
     

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