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   Hear Me Out Blog   

Including Students in the Assessment Process

It’s
January! Along with the bitter cold, snow, and ice here in Massachusetts come
the quarterly and mid-year progress reports. As teachers of the deaf/hard of
hearing, we spend hours each quarter reviewing data from individual sessions
with each student, analyzing observation notes, and compiling a semesters worth
of information and work samples into a comprehensive report showing how we’ve
addressed or met specific IEP goals and objectives. A few years ago a student
who was in sixth grade at the time told me that his mom had shared my progress
report with him. He was aware of his IEP but didn’t know that I wrote reports
about him each quarter. He had so many questions and stated that now he
understood why I wrote so much in my notebook while we were working. This
experience was eye opening for me as well – why shouldn’t students know about progress reports?  Better yet, why not include them in the
process?

We
all know the importance of including students in the IEP process, but including
them in ongoing assessment throughout the year is equally as important. When
students are familiar with their IEP goals and objectives and participate in regular
self-assessment, their ability to advocate and actively participate in their
educational programs improves. In addition, it helps students become more aware
that our lessons have context; what we do together relates to their short and
long term goals. It is important for students to understand why they receive
support services from a teacher of the deaf/hard of hearing. Involvement in
quarterly self-assessment is one way to approach this need as students become
participants in the planning and assessment of their entire academic and social
school programming rather than passive recipients of support services.

All
of my junior high and high school students, and many of my upper elementary
students (depending on individual readiness and ability), formally assess their
own progress quarterly. I use my progress report due dates as a guide. During
individual sessions, each student is given a print out of their IEP goals and
objectives that we have targeted during the term, and with my support, they
write a short narrative of how they feel they have progressed in each area. I
encourage students to provide examples, discuss what was easy and what was
challenging, what they feel they can now do independently and areas where they
feel they need continued support, and what they see as the next steps. Sound
familiar? These are the same aspects targeted in our quarterly reports! Not
only do students become involved, but it’s also an opportunity for me to assess
my own teaching:  Can my student
articulate what we’ve worked on? Were my examples and lessons clear or is my
student confused or off track? Do my
student and I agree about his independent and guided abilities? In my own
progress narrative, I often cite examples from student self-assessment as this
data is valuable not only to me, but to everyone working with the student. 

Here
are a few tips for including students in quarterly self-assessment:

Discuss the purpose and process for
quarterly self-assessment with the student’s parents.
If parents have
concerns, they can be addressed prior to beginning the process with the student.

Help the student understand the purpose of
the self-assessment.
When students understand that self-assessment is part
of looking at growth and progress rather than focusing on deficits, they are
more willing to participate honestly.

Structure the assessment according to
student needs
. I find creating a table with the objective in one column and
space for the student to write is the most organized. For some objectives, I
simplify the language in parentheses beside the formally written objective to be
sure my student understands. I also include prompts for the criteria I want
students to write about.

Make the self-assessment applicable.
When students indicate areas where they want more support, I am sure to include
those areas in our individual sessions and explicitly refer to their
self-assessment notes. Sharing the assessment with other service providers and
teachers (with the student’s permission) can help the student to see the
benefit and carryover as well.

How do you include students in on-going
assessments?

Hear Me Out

The Hear Me Out blog provides unique resources for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. It's a forum for itinerant teachers of the deaf to share their experiences as they grow as professionals! It is produced by Clarke's Mainstream Services team as part of our mission to support children with hearing loss and the professionals who serve them.

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About the Hear Me Out Blog

Itinerant teachers of the deaf (TOD) provide direct services to children with hearing loss in mainstream schools, consultation to their teachers, and professional development to school staff. Itinerant TODs travel to a child’s neighborhood school to provide one-on-one educational support, foster listening and spoken language development, and help children build social and self-advocacy skills. They also act as a liaison between the family and their mainstream school. Hear Me Out provides a unique forum for these special teachers to share their experiences as they grow as professionals.

Hear Me Out is produced by Mainstream Services at Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech as part of our mission to support children with hearing loss and the professionals who serve them.

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Hear Me Out Blog

About the Author

Heather Stinson (CAGS, MED, S/LP-A) received her master’s degree in Education of the Deaf from Smith College in 2006 and a graduate certificate in Children, Families, and Schools (with a concentration in research methodology) from the University of Massachusetts in 2012. In addition to her many years of experience working with children with hearing loss who communicate using listening and spoken language, Heather has also worked as a preschool classroom teacher.

Heather has presented both locally and nationally on issues related to mainstreaming students with hearing loss and is a contributing author to Odyssey magazine. Heather currently works as an itinerant teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing at Clarke Mainstream Services, a program of Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech.

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