Insights on and Importance of Knowing the Learning Aptitude of Students
Posted by: Teacher ia | on January 5, 2013
Special Education Philippines received this question from one of the messages via Special Education Philippines Facebook Fan Page.
“I’m a college student taking up BEED-SPED, a sophomore student. Can I ask you a few questions? What’s your insights or ideas about assessment of learning aptitude and the importance of assessing the learning aptitude of the learner as far as (1. General education) (2. Special education) is concerned. Thank you very much.”
I find the question timely as this morning I’ve read how a mother friend of mine is so proud of her son for being assessed a gifted learner. But what is a gifted learner? Let me answer that in succeeding posts. For now, Llet’s look at our reader’s question first: What’s your insights or ideas about assessment of learning aptitude?
To answer this, I would have to consider first why is there a need for assessment?
In Manitoba, Canada their education department released a book which tackles what assessment of learning is. I find their definition concise and clear enough to define what assessment of learning. I will be quoting the entire statement here for I feel that summarizing this definition might compromise its content.
“Assessment of learning refers to strategies designed to confirm what students know, demonstrate whether or not they have met curriculum outcomes or the goals of their individualized programs, or to certify proficiency and make decisions about students’ future programs or placements. It is designed to provide evidence of achievement to parents, other educators, the students themselves, and sometimes to outside groups (e.g., employers, other educational institutions).”
Now that we have covered the “what” of assessment of learning, let’s answer the “why”. Why do we need to assess the learning aptitude of students?
As a SPED teacher, assessment of learning is important because I’d like to know where I’m starting from when I have to make an IEP for the child. I’d also like to have data to explain to the parents what should be their expectations after the program and where can we move forward to after the program.
What is the importance of assessing the learning aptitude of the learner in the General Education setting?
In traditional schools and centers, this is one of the first steps before admitting a child to their school or program. Let’s take for example, Tutoring Club. Before a child can enroll to their program, the student has to take an assessment which will tell Tutoring Club the child’s Math and Language levels are. Only after getting this information, can Tutoring Club recommend a program for the child to enroll to. In most schools here in the Philippines especially for prestigious ones and in college schools, a student has to take an entrance test before they can be admitted in that school. Why is this all important? Because there are school standards that have to be met by each student. If the child has difficulty in meeting the basic standards for the school, then the school’s program might be too difficult for the child. The school should be a place for the child to achieve success. A program not suited for the child will just lead to frustration and even failure.
How about the importance of assessing the learning aptitude of the learner in the Special Education setting?
As mentioned above, IEP is an important assessment tool in any SPED program. In UP there is an entire program dedicated to learn how to make an IEP. However, before you can take that subject there are pre-requisite subjects one has to successfully pass before taking this major subject in SPED. To answer the question above, for me, yes it is very important. It serves as the baseline for a SPED teacher must do before implementing any plans or strategies. To put it simply, “if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail“. An assessment is an important tool in planning. It serves as your map to help you reach your objectives as a SPED teacher.
But I would also like to address one concern: is the child’s learning limited of these standards of assessment constructed for learning? In my personal experience, the answer is “No”. The results of the assessment may not even be consistent. The child can show the skill successfully one day and just do average the next day. The important thing to note in this situation is that the skill of interest is there. However, its a different case when the skill appears and then disappears or vice versa. That’s why anecdotal reports and informal assessments should also be learned and implemented by teachers as well to supplement the formal ones. It gives the assessor a broader picture of what the child can do on his day-to-day activities.
How about skills based on the assessment the child is expected to have difficulty with or may even be absent?
That’s why assessments should only be a tool and not a defining statement. It should serve as a guide and not a box. Have you heard of savants with exceptional skills? It does not only happen with children with autism. There are also children with Down Syndrome, blind, deaf, children with ADHD and many more who can perform these exceptional skills nobody even thought it possible for themto do but they can. If we let assessments define these children what do you think would happened to them.
I cannot discount the fact that assessments of learning aptitude in both general education and special education are important tools. However, I will not also not be limited with it.
If you were asked the same questions, what can you say about assessment of learning? Tell us more by commenting below.
If you find this post useful and worth sharing, you can find the social media buttons to help you share it on the left side of the post. Happy sharing!