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Assessment in inclusive classrooms - France

In inclusive classes we make a distinction on the one hand between the problem of pupils encountering major learning difficulties, and the problem of disabled pupils on the other. 

Procedures used for pupils encountering major learning difficulties.

Co-ordination of assessment practices between the class teacher and the specialist teacher

The teacher of pupils encountering major learning difficulties can usually call on specialist teachers and school psychologists who work within the framework of a RASED . Good practices thus consist in first of all making assessments in the classroom and then completing these assessments by complementary ones carried out by the specialist teacher.  The comparison of the results and their analysis may or may not lead to a personalised assistance plan for which the objectives and methods of assessment will be set. 

An example of good co-operation between the class teacher and the specialist teacher is described in a book called Listen to the Child, Help the Pupil. This grid, called Profil des compétences 125, includes the educational, cognitive, relational, familial, and social factors that play a role in the relationship of every child with his environment. On the basis of the teacher’s observations and assessments during a detailed dialogue with a specialist, this grid makes it possible to establish a profile of the pupil that avoids focusing on his difficulties and shortcomings. This profile allows us to gather much Inter-correlated data on the basis of which a joint discussion of the pupil can begin. It thus avoids answering in an impulsive manner by referring to the sum of failures observed and prescribing immediate compensatory assistance.  The purpose of this discussion between the class teacher and the specialist is to help the observer identify the facts, to finely tune his analyses, to extend his vision of the pupil into the dimensions of the child's multiple skills. Perhaps even in some cases it is possible to prepare jointly, before any specialist help is provided, a pedagogical strategy for personalised support in the classroom and thus to favour prevention. This initial phase of discussion opens the way to a partnership between the specialist and the class teacher in order to favour the transfer into the classroom of the child's acquired skills during and especially at the end of a possible specialised assistance initiative.

Flexibility in the assessment process.

The good practices with an innovative character that are identified are those that seeks to bypass serious learning difficulties when they are faced with them in order to enable the pupil to have access to the same activities as the other pupils.  We shall take as an example the pedagogical adaptations that can be used in assessment practices for pupils with specific written language learning difficulties.  For this example we shall refer to the practice of Frédérique Vernay, a specialist teacher.  She describes her method in the article entitled “Pedagogy for pupils with severe cases of dyslexia", published in the book Specific problems of language.

In general, when Frédérique Vernay evaluates the knowledge of a dyslexic pupil, she, first of all, focuses on the instructions given to the pupil.  These instructions can be given to the pupil in a personal way, with short sentences and simple words.  Care must be taken that the pupil has understood the instructions and that he has grasped the series of steps. It is possible to use visual support for this purpose.  As for the task itself, in order to reassure the pupil F. Vernay strives to map out the requirements in a precise manner during the assessment. Other teachers conclude a short term work contract with the pupil with objectives to attain (marks, number of mistakes, number of exercises to do) so that the pupil does not feel from the very start that he is lagging behind the pace and production of the other pupils. F. Vernay stresses the importance of oral work as a means of assessment as it enables the pupil to concentrate more on what is required of him.  To evaluate skills and knowledge in the sciences, history and geography, she recommends oral or written multiple choice tests. 

In her article she particularly develops her method for dictations and written expression activities.  She shows the importance of giving criteria of assessment of the dictation, and she describes the assessment procedure used.  This procedure consists in counting the number of correct words in the entire dictation and comparing this number with the total number of words. We can thus evaluate the pupil’s progress with the pupil by observing the fraction of correct words.  Such a practice avoids focusing on the pupil’s mistakes and makes it possible to place the pupil in a process of progress. For written expression, F. Vernay recommends privileging substance.

Procedures used for disabled children.

Most disabled children who attend ordinary classes receive help from a specialised care service or from professionals working in a special institution.  In order to illustrate a good assessment practice used for these pupils we shall take the situation of Manuel, a young six year old pupil, blind, attending an ordinary section of a nursery school. Manuel attends school full-time and receives support from an educational auxiliary. Other persons and services also play a role in his schooling: an SAAAIS , which gives the pupil access to different specialised professionals such as a locomotion therapist, a psychologist, and a specialist teacher. In the framework of a personalised integration plan, these professionals, along with Manuel’s teacher and school principal, meet at least three times during the school year to regulate the educational plan. As of the end of the previous school year, on the basis of assessments carried out by the different professionals objectives have been defined in common for the school year in the ordinary classes.  These are learning objectives but also objectives in terms of autonomy.  The different professionals have co-ordinated their own objectives toward the aim of Manuel’s entering CP, the first year of elementary school. The results achieved at the end of Manuel’s year in nursery school, based on assessments of scholastic skills, mastery of braille, autonomy, but also on characteristics of the environment of his future elementary school class (CP1) have made it possible to conclude that Manuel can enter that class at the beginning of the following school year.  The help provided by the SAAIS is continued, but not the support of the educational auxiliary. This case illustrates a good practice of the finely tuned joint assessment of a blind child’s skills and needs attending an ordinary school and preparing to learn how to read.

 

Sources:

  • RASED: Network of specialised assistance to pupils in difficulty
  • Guillarmé J.J, Eriksen F, Ecouter l’enfant, aider l’élève, les métamorphoses de l’échec, Enfance Plurielle,EAP, 2004
  • Couteret P, coordinator, Les troubles spécifiques du langage, published by the Centre national d’études et de formation pour l’enfance inadaptée (CNEFEI).
  • SAAAIS: Service of assistance in acquiring autonomy and educational integration.
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