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Features of best assessment practice - Switzerland

In this final section of the report, answers to the following two questions will be given for Switzerland as a result of the discussions at the experts meeting at Brussels, based on the analysis of policy and best practice-models realised in assessment in Swiss inclusive classrooms. 

Best practice

The use of assessment tools and strategies including contextual perspectives (“Contextual Approach”). In addition to the “holistic approach”, meaning the assessment of not only language based and mathematical skills, but the view on the “total personality” of the child assessed, it is important to assess not only the child itself, but to also consider its learning environment and instructional setting within and outside the classroom. Therefore assessment tools also have to be “transition-sensitive” to assure that assessment provides information and intervention strategies concerning the learning-processes over (a life-) time and at least the whole “educational career” of a pupil. 

Interdisciplinary assessment teams with participation of the parents and the pupil in the process of assessment and individual educational planning. To give off the task of assessment to some experts outside the classroom or even the school system runs the risk of narrowing the view to a medical assessment model and of loosing the holistic and the contextual approach. Interdisciplinary teams within the local school on the other hand can provide a wide range of assessment methodologies and contextual views necessary. 

This means the inclusion of assessment tools and procedures in regular and SNE-teacher training. And it means that assessment procedures have to be transparent and tools have to be understandable for everyone participating in the assessment process.

Assessment methods leading to interventions concentrated on the design of adapted learning environments or instructional strategies. 

The use of standardised assessment tools based on international classifications. With the objective of providing a terminology that is helpful for the understanding of multiple experts in interdisciplinary SEN-teams and also is fitting a contextual and holistic approach, the use of standardised assessment tools founded in international classification systems (such as the ICF of the WHO) can be helpful. 

Continuous evaluation of the effects of interventions in SNE on an individual, case-specific level. The measuring of the effects of interventions not only with traditional, quantitative research methodologies regarding the effectiveness and efficacy of methods used in SNE but also combined with qualitative and case-specific methodologies that focus the individual development and learning of the single child. 

Policy that supports best practice

School leadership and empowerment of schools regarding assessment and SNE-competencies. Inclusive education and inclusive primary classrooms need to be implemented along with school development and the implementation of school leadership based on the principle of "education for all". Schools need to be empowered to cope with heterogeneity and SEN. Assessment procedures have to be transparent. As an example of best practice, the implementation of a SEN-team and of standardised IEP-meetings in every school are necessary to provide a low-level access to support and knowledge in a case of SEN. The SEN-team has the necessary means and competencies at its disposal. 

Far reaching autonomy for the individual schools in matters of allocation of resources for SEN. As the Swiss school system allows various realisations of assessment and SNE, it is important to permit an optimal adaptation of case-specific intervention to the respective conditions. However, this freedom has to be related to the implementation of standards regarding the assessment process and the evaluation of interventions. 

Avoiding the misuse of results of “high stakes testing” regarding the current discussion on the implementation of national testing. 

The legal implementation of inclusive classrooms as a national standard in SNE. The reorganisation of funding mechanisms in Switzerland lead to the fact that probably by 2008 the cantons will be solely responsible for funding not only regular, but special education as well. The development and implementing of national standards for SNE is high on the agenda of SNE experts and institutions. One goal is to commit the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education to the implementation of inclusive education (along with the financial "inclusion").

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