Are You Assessing Your Assessments?

Being legally and ethically compliant means taking a closer look at how you evaluate and engage with your students. The regulations in IDEA Part B provides guidance on appropriate service delivery to culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) populations and are revisited and revised periodically. Here are four key things you need to know about the most recent IDEA Part B Final Regulations — and what they mean to your practice.

  • MISIDENTIFICATION MAKES A DIFFERENCE. IDEA regulations made significant steps toward addressing problems with inappropriate identification and disproportionate representation by race and ethnicity of children with disabilities. A provision was added requiring states to review data to examine for over- and under-identification of students across all races and ethnicities.

    What does this mean for you? ASHA members must ensure that their assessment results are valid for their students. Students who are exposed to more than one language or who speak an additional dialect of American English may not get appropriate results. Standard scores may not be reported for students who were not included in the sampling norm.

  • EARLY IDENTIFICATION WORKS. In the event that significant dis-proportionality is determined, the state will not only be required to review and revise policies, procedures, and practices, but it will also require the local education agency (LEA) to reserve the maximum amount of funds to provide early intervening services.

    What does this mean for you? More resources toward early intervention programs. Research has shown that early intervening strategies assist in reducing the number of inappropriate referrals to special education. Mandating that funds are to be used for early intervening services is an excellent strategy for states with this problem.

  • RESULTS MATTER. An addition to the final regulations on evaluation procedures requires that assessment and other evaluation materials are administered "in the form most likely to yield accurate information on what the child knows and can do academically, developmentally, and functionally."

    What does this mean for you? In a word, FLEXIBILITY. The "form" that is being used to yield the best results in which evaluation procedures are administered will vary, and the addition of this new language emphasizes the allowance of variance from standard testing procedures, when necessary, in order to appropriately evaluate a student.

  • IT'S IMPORTANT TO EVALUATE THE INDIVIDUAL. The regulations emphasize the use of nonstandardized testing procedures, such as portfolio assessments or spontaneous language samples, which can provide valuable qualitative information on the child's communication skills.

    What does this mean for you? Don't hesitate to dig deeper to provide the best care. For example, carefully review a child's language history to determine the language(s) of assessment. If you determine that the child should be evaluated in a language other than or in addition to English, use all available resources — including interpreters when necessary — to appropriately evaluate the child.

ASHA has a number of resources on its website that go into more detail on IDEA Part B regulations and service delivery to CLD populations.