Homeschool parents know how important is is to evaluate special needs student progress each year. But, as we know, most tests do not reflect each student’s true learning.
Moreover, the process of evaluating a special needs student can be frustrating. This is because evaluation standards are often made within observations windows that are too limited, that treat progress as static instead of fluid, and use measurables that are incomprehensive.
Thus, when looking back on this school year, I challenge you to consider these four methods to give you a new perspective on how to evaluate special needs student progress.
Evaluate Special Needs Student Progress: Use Bigger Picture Thinking
Progress happens over time. Therefore, trying to evaluate progress over a 9-to-12-month window will limit your view of each student’s overall learning curve. Instead, evaluate learning over a wide span of time. This will provide more accurate data for the reviewing process.
Plus, the historical record will capture victories, gaps and recurrent learning trends that are usually missed when evaluation windows are too small.
Homeschool Special Needs Tip: Progress is Progress
When tracking yearly progress, comparing one student against another student or against a baseline standard is like comparing two runners on completely different tracks. The two tracks may cover the same distance, but they have very different terrain and obstacles.
The true measurement of progress for your student should be based on an assessment of forward movement that is suitable to them and their circumstances alone, not compared against an arbitrary average or another student’s progress.
Evaluating Progress: Movement is Fluid
Steady and constant movement towards a learning goal is atypical even for non-special needs students. Instead, most students will work at a slower pace in preparation for a sudden burst forward. This is especially true for students learning complex skills. Then, once a student mentally connects specific material, the related tasks usually quickly follow suit.
When reviewing your student’s progress speed, always watch for this fluid motion. It is a good indicator that your student needs to master a specific area before they can leap forward.
Homeschool Special Needs Tip: Learning is Comprehensive
Unfortunately, traditional schooling only measures part of a child’s learning growth. Plus, there are periods when a student may not show any academic progress. But, this lack of academic growth does not necessarily indicate a lack of learning.
Instead, learning must be measured from a whole student perspective. Therefore, you should also evaluate growth in your student’s faith life, character traits, social skills, and physical abilities. This will provide a more comprehensive picture of progress.
How to Implement the Four Methods: Utilize THSC’s New Special Needs Tool
If reading these four methods makes homeschool special needs evaluation seem even more challenging, I suggest a helpful tool for next year. The IEP Generation Tool is the latest THSC member benefit, helping keep track of everything mentioned in this article.
The tool will help you accurately view your student’s progress on a yearly and year-to-year basis. This comprehensive tool for planning and evaluating progress of your special needs students includes:
- Creating history with yearly IEPs
- Yearly baseline status to measure each student’s unique progress
- Unique goals for measuring academic and non-academic progress
To find out more about how THSC can help, check out the full list of THSC member benefits, the special needs section of our website, and the special needs student programs THSC offers at our Conventions.
For communication with other special needs homeschool families, sign up for email notifications for more encouraging articles. Thank you for your continued support as we join together in Keeping Texas Families Free.