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Assessment in inclusive classrooms - Finland

It is written in the national core curriculum that even minor learning difficulties should be taken in consideration in pupil assessment. This means that the whole process of assessment should be prepared carefully from the beginning to the end. The lessons and assessment of a pupil with SEN requires detailed planning which is based on formative assessment, on- going and summative assessment. The lessons have to be flexible according to pupils’ needs during the learning process. An inclusive educational classroom needs to be diverse as a learning environment and the lessons have to be differentiative. As there are different kind of needs in learning among the pupils there needs to be a multiple choice of methods and materials in use. The systematic and careful implementation of planning the lessons guarantees that the support for studies will be adequate and the possible learning difficulties are taken in consideration during the learning process. A group of pupils can be very heterogeneous in its prerequisites so therefore it is necessary to have the tools to meet every pupil’s needs in learning. By a functional and dynamic assessment we are able to adjust the lessons appropriately for all. 

Individual plans are educational tools to help provide lessons to learners with different kinds of needs and are developed according to the objectives and contents of the local curriculum. There are two kinds of individual plans in use in basic education: the learning plan and the individual educational plan (IEP). An individual plan helps in supporting a pupil to learn and it makes it easier for a teacher to differentiate the lessons. It also helps by providing the parents with information so that they can better support the pupil’s studies. This learning plan can be developed for any pupil. A learning plan is developed individually for each pupil with SEN and for pupils receiving part-time SNE. It can also be developed for immigrant pupils or for gifted pupils. The IEP is obliged to develop a plan for every pupil who has officially been granted SNE. The individual plans are very similar in their structure and content, but the IEP is a more official educational document.

The pupil’s strengths, personal learning and developmental needs constitute the starting point in supporting her/him. The foremost objective is to support the pupil so that she/he can attain the objectives according to the general syllabus. The syllabus is individualised if the pupil does not meet these objectives in spite of support measures. An Individualised syllabus means that the curriculum is developed especially to meet the individual pupil’s needs. The pupil’s assessment is based on their IEP in individualised subjects. The importance of the IEP is especially remarkable when a pupil is studying according to an individualised syllabus.

The principles for the assessment of a pupil who has officially been granted SNE are defined in the individual educational plan, IEP. The pupil can study according to the general syllabus when her/his progress and performance have been assessed in relation to the objectives and descriptions of good performance described in the general syllabus. The pupil who has been granted SNE can also study according to her/his individual syllabus which can be individualised partly or entirely.

If it has been decided in the IEP that the pupil will study according to an individualised syllabus, the pupil’s performances will be assessed on the basis of the objectives established for her/him personally and defined in the IEP. In this case the pupil’s performance and progress is not assessed in relation to the descriptions of good performance given in the national core curriculum. The performance and progress in an individualised syllabus can be assessed by verbal summaries during the course of studies and also in the final assessment.

The lessons can be organised as activities for pupils with severe disabilities or illness. The subjects covered by activities are motor co-ordination, language and communication, social skills, skills in daily functions and cognitive skills. When the lesson is organised as an activity the assessment is based on the progress made in the subject of the activity. The assessment is based on the individualised objectives established in the IEP. 

The structure of an individual plan:

  • a description of the pupil’s learning abilities and strengths, and her/his learning related needs
  • the short and long term objectives
  • the number of weekly lessons per year in the subjects
  • a list of the subjects in which the pupil has individualised syllabus
  • the objectives and core contents of those subjects in which the pupil has individualised syllabus
  • the principles for monitoring and assessing the pupil’s progress
  • assistance and interpreter services, other educational services and pupil welfare, communication techniques, special aids and equipment
  • description of how the pupil’s education is to be provided, i.e. through participation in general lessons and/or in a group of pupils with SEN
  • the persons participating in providing the pupil’s education and support services
  • monitoring of the implementation of support services
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