I recently attended a workshop over evaluation. One of the presenters discussed various forms of data that can be used in an evaluation. Best practice dictates that you have multiple data sources that contribute to your finding of, or lack there of, a disability.
One of the sources that she discussed that I haven’t given much thought to was targeted feedback. If you are new to education, or a parent who isn’t familiar with this term, targeted feedback is feedback over a specific skill that a teacher gives a student. It goes beyond Xs for wrong answers and checks for correct answers. It targets the specific skill the student is struggling with in order to assist them in making progress toward mastering that skill set.
Good teachers do this all the time, whether they realize it or not. When you show or tell a student that their calculation is correct, but they put the decimal in the wrong spot. That is targeted feedback. When you discuss verb tense to correct a writing problem. That is targeted feedback. Even novice teachers do this naturally because we all understand that if a student is going to make progress and not make the same mistakes over and over we have to re-teach what they are missing.
So how does this tie to assessment? If you have a student who is in Tier 1 or 2 RtI and you think they may have a disability, information from this feedback and follows ups on how effective it is could help in an assessment. You can keep this data through work samples. The student completes an assignment. You mark what was right and wrong and give targeted feedback on how to correct the mistakes, document this right on the work sample. Then follow up by writing on the sample or in a separate documentation form if this targeted feedback was effective or if you have to find new means to re-teach the information. How many times and ways you are teaching a given concept before the student reaches mastery is important. That’s part of RtI.
You can also use exit tickets that cover topics you’ve provided targeted feedback on. An exit ticket is a ticket with a question from class that the student must answer and hand to you on the way out the door. If they miss it you quickly re-teach and provide examples. It’s one way to see if students are retaining concepts taught during class.
EX: The student is struggling with verb tense and you’ve provided targeted feedback in several ways. Have them do an exit ticket on verb tense and keep it as documentation as to if they are making ground toward mastery or continuing to struggle.
You wouldn’t have to do this everyday or with every student. Pick 5 students a day and write exit tickets specifically for them. Or pre-write questions and randomly select students to answer them on the way out. You can change this strategy to meet the needs of your classes.
There are lots of little things that teachers do everyday that can help in determining if a child has a specific learning disability and more importantly help in designing interventions to meet the child’s needs. If you have a student who is struggling get with your evaluation personnel and ask what kind of data you should be keeping to help with an evaluation.