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Assessment in inclusive classrooms - Netherlands

Needs-based assessment describes a decision-making process in which an assessor proceeds systematically from stage to stage. The assessor analyses the child’s learning difficulties and behaviour problems and seeks possible explanations in order to make recommendations that can solve these problems. The diagnostic process is goal directed: it targets relevant risk and protective factors for the child, the instructional environment and the parenting situation. Its starting point is a request for assessment from a teacher, parent or pupil, and its end product consists of informed and workable recommendations, concerning an IEP for example. The assessor works closely together with the teacher, parents and child and focuses on recommendations from the outset. This model is particularly suitable for use by school psychologists. A needs-based approach offers a systematic way of working in a school, based on the principles of needs-based assessment in as much as they are relevant to the school’s special needs co-ordinator or a teacher.
Needs-based assessment is appropriate in the case of diagnostic questions such as: what is the problem? how did it arise? how can we deal with the problem? what do we advise? The child’s educational needs are central; what instructional and behavioural support does this pupil need? If the teacher, the special needs co-ordinator and the school psychologist are all working within the same frame of reference and from the same perspective, successful collaboration is enhanced. It means that they are all following a clear cut, step-by-step plan, using the same language and adhering to the same principles. They do not repeat each others work, but complement it. Although they share responsibility, each has his or her own responsibilities within each step. Their aim, based on the child’s best interests, is to keep the child in mainstream education. Only when this proves impossible, do they consider special education.

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