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Testing Children

January 30, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 180

Evaluating children via standard testing can be a difficult task. Special needs children who have ADD/ADHD, an undiagnosed learning disability, and/or intellectual disability, short attention span or lack of one, create challenges for the test administrator as well.

Testing standards are not geared toward specific ethnic or racial groups and are therefore biased from the beginning on determining the mental capabilities of a child. Demographics need to be obtained prior to the assessment. A real disadvantage occurs when testing techniques are developed for Western pedagogy and do not always hold the same meaning for non-western children. Certain items may be foreign, and therefore unfair. Being sensitive to cultural differences when measuring cognitive abilities will have a more positive outcome. Many other factors such as fear of strangers, unfamiliar testing environment, cultural and language barriers may affect a child's performance. Even something, as little as parents not reading books to their child or a lack of interaction with other children can affect the outcome of the evaluation.

It is required that the assessments be sensitive to the child's development and that the evaluator be knowledgeable of these testing limits with young children. If a child is very active, they cannot sit still and listen for more than a few seconds. They are curious of the world around them. Tasks need to be so interesting that it keeps the child busy, while being developmentally appropriate. Developmentally appropriate means, teaching subjects using phrases and words that they know and understand. (Telling your child not to play near the hot stove because they will get a big boo-boo and have to go to the doctor, is an appropriate way to communicate danger. If you launch into a five-minute rant of the dangers, reasons and facts of hot stoves, you won't get the desired response, no matter how well intended your message.) The child takes their newly learned information, implements it from day to day, and uses that knowledge as a building block for the next phase in learning. For instance, a baby cannot learn how to switch a toy from one hand to another if the baby has yet to bring his hands together to clap, be able to grasp and hold items in his hand.

Test results may not always be accurate due to children favoring certain tasks over others. The child may be capable of completing a substantial amount of the test, but because of the inability to sit still and focus, the test results won't always be the same. For example, a child was more interested in playing with the telephone and television, but she seldom completed the tasks that were required of her, such as answering questions. The ideal place for an evaluation would be the child's home where it is relaxed and informal. When testing children, all the above factors need to be taken into consideration to include the family's needs, resources and concerns, as they can affect both the evaluation and possible interventions.

In cases such as these, the test administrator may not know how to implement a reward system, how to redirect a child to a task or using methods that are not as stringent to administer the test. A pen and paper may be what is required to take the test, but how often do you see or hear of an administrator initiating that the child have the test read or having more time to complete the test? Diagnosticians' have clear rules for administering tests, however, how can we be assured that the tests are fair to all ethnic, racial and socio-economic classes?

If your child is to be tested, recognize that there are rules and regulations for children with disabilities. How will the test administrator accommodate your child? Individuals with Disabilities Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Standards for Educational and Psychological testing discuss how to accommodate these children. Contacting your local School Liaison or Family Advocate will help you with the testing and accommodation process.

Julie Callicutt is the owner of Ferko Therapeutic Group, a company specializing in providing intensive rehabilitation therapy to children with disabilities, specifically those on the Autism Spectrum. Julie's services include 1:1 intensive therapy, coaching/mentoring of caregivers and making herself available to speak at local and national early childhood conferences. If you would like more information, please visit,

Source: EzineArticles
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Testing Children


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