All educational programming and instrucstyle="font-weight: bold;">Background:
All educational programming and instruction begins with quality assessments. There are three essential assessments for allchildren and youth who are blind or visually impaired. These are the functional vision assessment (FVA), learning media assessment (LMA), and assessments in the chosen priority areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC). Teachers of students who are blind or visually impaired (TVIs) use the essential assessment framework to secure data that drives eligibility/entitlement, educational programming and instruction.
This rubric and the embedded documents were initiated through a collaborative effort ofeducation experts and the American Foundation for the Blind. Further refinement of content was provided by participants attending the 2008 Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) International Conference. Final edits were initiated by the content experts to support teachers and families in receiving tools and methods that will strengthen thedevelopment of children’s educational programs.
The EssentialAssessment Rubric Project provides a tool to guide TVIs and certified orientation & mobility specialists (COMS) in preparing and conducting assessments. Parents will be able to use the online resource to prepare for theIndividualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) or Individualized Education Program(IEP) meetings. Rubrics and the Essential Assessments:
A critical literature review of the field of visual impairments was conducted along with guidance by Dr. Randy Jose, OD, FAAO (professor emeritus University of Houston). From that literature review and guidance by Dr. Jose, a content area rubric for the essential assessments required for students who are blind or visually impaired was developed. This rubric should be used with a scoring guide (percentage of items covered) or with a quality indicator rubric (no evidence,emerging, proficient or advanced) for peer critiques or by administrators to determine the quality of assessments. In addition, this rubric could be used by TVIs and COMS as a template for what areas to include in their assessments. Positive impact has been seen through standard-based programming to define quality programs for students who are blind or visually impaired (Toelle, 1986). The literature shows that timely andquality assessment data have been identified as critical elements of program accountability for services to students who are blind or visually impaired (Toelle & Blankenship, 2008). How to Navigate the Essential Assessment Rubric:
The rubric is enhanced with critical resources embedded in the document through hyperlinks. Hyperlink resources are part of the folder and by right-clicking on your mouse you should be able to open them as separate documents. The rubric is divided into 5 columns (key components, birth-3 years of age, 3-5 years ofage, 5-22 years of age, and multiple disabilities/deafblind). Each identified key component has the content areas needed under each age/ability group and a definition (hyperlinked) under the key component. In addition, each key component area has a description and rationale (federal citations, as appropriate), resources that are free under public domains, resources to purchase, and tips for administering the particular key component. The resources that are free under public domain are typically hyperlinks that can be opened as a separate document for the ease of the reader. The resources under for purchase are cited with a number and the reference is at the end of the document. The resource list is certainly not exhaustive but an extensive literature review was conducted to assist the reader in finding many examples or tools.
Determining critical content areas for the ECC is based on the individual needs of each student thus it looks much different than those areas for the Functional Vision Assessment (FVA) and Learning Media Assessment (LMA). The content areas note dare based on the procedure developed by the Iowa ECC work group (2007) and begins with a structured conversation around the strengths and needs of theindividual student in all nine areas. From that conversation a few areas are targeted for assessment and instruction. The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired curriculum department has developed anassessment tool (EVALS) for all nine areas of the ECC and it is recommended as part of this process. The assessment data from the ECC content areas drives the programming and instruction. It is impossible to put in all skill sets within the nine content areas but the procedures and tools to accomplish the task are part of this project and are hyperlinked within the rubric. Critical Factors for Effective Instruction:
Researchers agree that the most important factor influencing student learning is the quality of the teacher (Ashton, P. & Webb, R.,1986; Darling-Hammond, L.,2000; Fullan, M., 1982; Gibson, S., & Dembo, M.,1984; Haycock, K., Jerald, C. & Huang, S. , 2001; Jordan, H., Mendro, R. & Weerasinghe, D.,1997; Moore, W.P., & Esselman, M.E. ,1992; Ross, J.A.,1992; Sanders, W.L., & Rivers, J.C.,1996 and Westat, 2002). As we apply this construct to instruction in the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) content areas (Hatlen, 1996 & 2003) the content experts are committed to providing a variety of tools and resources online and in written publications that will enhance existing skills or introduce new skill sets to TVIs and COMs.
A research-based effective instructional continuum always begins with quality assessment data that drives both educational programming and instruction for all students (birth-22 years of age) with varying acuity and ability levels. In addition, IDEA 2004 (300.305, 300.320) mandates assessment data that provides the present levels of academic and functional achievement from multiple sources. For children and youth who are blind or visually impaired the three essential assessments are the functional vision assessment (FVA), learning media assessment (LVA), and assessments in the ECC priority areas. These assessments are always given together upon initial referral and for the three-year re-evaluations. Some states such as Texas and Tennessee require one or more of these assessments in their educational guidelines. In addition, other procedural guidelines are available for states to use as guidance to produce an individual state guide, such as the following:
California Educational Guidelines
Blind and Visually Impaired Students: Educational Service Guidelines (NASDSE)
(published by Perkins)
The ECC is goal area 8 of the National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youth who are Blind or Visually Impaired, including Those with Multiple Impairments (NA) and many resources for the NA may be found on the following websites:
Assessment Features for Effective Instruction:
The essential assessments adhere to the RIOT model of assessment that incorporates a R
eviewof records (medical & educational), I
nterviews with students (as appropriate), families, teachers, and other service providers, O
bservations in various educational, home, and community environments), and of course formal and informal T
esting that is valid and reliable for this student population.The essential assessments are needed for all children and youth with visual impairmentno matter their acuity or cognitive levels. Some professionals conduct the FVAon all children and just use the review of record, interviews, and observations for students who are totally blind, while others include this information in their LMAs and do not conduct a FVA.
The most effective testing for students with a severe cognitive disability is conducted as a team with specific outcomes for the testing (i.e., use of real objectsor symbols for communication systems). The basic information remains the same but different materials and techniques are employed. Classroom teachers of students who are blind or visually impaired often want to know the recommended distance, size, and color of instructional materials and instruction specific to that student, or how they access learning. In addition, they want to know about the use of real objects or abstract representation of objects for calendar systems. Instruction in the ECC content areas for students with severe cognitive disabilities should be on-going throughout the day with more intensity and opportunities for practice. Rubric Features:
A rubric is an authentic assessment tool used to measure a professional’s work. It is a scoring guide that seeks to evaluate a professional’s performance based on the sum of a full range of criteria rather than a single numerical score. A rubric is a working guide for teachers, and is usually handed out before the assessment begins in order to get professionals to think about the criteria on which their work will be judged. They may also be used for peer critiques in order to improve one’s practice. Rubrics can be analytic or holistic, and they can be created for any content area. It is a formative type of assessment because it becomes an ongoing part of the whole teaching and learning process.Professionals are involved in the assessment process through both peer and self-assessment. Many experts believe that rubrics improve professionals’ end products and therefore increase learning. Rubrics offer several advantages.
- Rubrics improve professionals’ performance by clearly showing how their work will be evaluated and what is expected of them.
- Rubrics help professionals become better judges of the quality of their own work.
- Rubrics allow assessments to be more objective and consistent.
- Rubrics force the teacher to clarify his/her criteria in specific terms.
- Rubrics promote professional awareness about the criteria used in assessing peer performance.
- Rubrics provide useful feedback to the teacher regarding the effectiveness of the assessment.
- Rubrics provide professionals with more informative feedback about their strengths and areas in need of improvement.
- Rubrics are easy to use and easy to explain.
The latest version of the Essential Assessments Rubric will soon be available here:http://w