Dynamic Assessment in School Psychology

By Lidz, Carol S. | National Association of School Psychologists. Communique, October 2009 | Go to article overview

Dynamic Assessment in School Psychology


Lidz, Carol S., National Association of School Psychologists. Communique


Dynamic assessment (DA) is a generic term for a variety of procedures that embed intervention within the assessment itself. Typically administered in pretest-intervention-posttest format, DA procedures provide information about the response and responsiveness ofthe individual to intervention and generate ideas and evidence about potentially successful interventions. Dynamic assessment has been around for at least 30 years, if we use as a point of reference the 1979 publication ofthe first book that explicitly uses this term and elaborates on a specific DA procedure (Feuerstein, Rand, 8c Hoffman's LPAD, 1979). The desire for and some beginning operationalizations of this approach can be traced further back to the beginning ofthe 20th century (Lidz, 1987) . Dynamic assessment - as a theory, model, or approach - is no longer the "new kid on the block" (Lidz, 2005). There are now hundreds of studies and related publications (see www.dynamicassessment.com), as well as a plethora of DA procedures. Some of these are closely related to the work of the early pioneers, others quite divergent. Such growth and increased presence would seem to suggest strong interest in and use of DA procedures. Curiously, this can only be said to be true to a limited extent, with more evidence of interest than use, at least as documented by surveys in the United States (Lidz, 1992; Haney 8c Evans, 1999) and U.K. (Deutsch, 2005; Deutsch 8c Reynolds, 2000; Kennedy, 2006; Woods 8c Farrell, 2006).

Although DA was born and has developedprimarily within the domain ofpsychology (not necessarily school psychology), widespread adoption of DA practice by psychologists in the United States and U.K. is not evident (Elliott, 1993). One might think, in a time dominated by response to intervention (RTI), that school psychologists would be flocking to opportunities to learn about and to use dynamic assessment techniques. However, with the noted exceptions of Fuchs and colleagues (2007) and Grigorenko (2009), DA and its obvious overlap with and potential relationship to RTI has been virtually ignored.

WHY IS DA NOT MORE WIDELY ADOPTED?

Issues of change. It is certainly a truism to say that we all are more comfortable when we continue to do the same things we have been doing, even if and when we recognize that some changes in our patterns might be worth consideration. Speech and language pathologists have been generally more receptive than school psychologists to DA. They conduct their assessments for their own interventions and therefore fully appreciate the need to make this link. They also have long valued the trait of "stimulability" and incorporate this into their descriptions ofthe children they assess. Stimulability, as modifiability, is a basic tenet of DA. Connecting assessment with intervention is also at the core of DA. School psychologists seem not to acknowledge the complaints of teachers about the limited relevance of information in their reports for classroom instruction (e.g., Hulbert, 1995; Lewis, 1998).

Regulation by lawsuits rather than by laws informed by psychology. At least in the United States, so much of school psychologists' practice has been dictated and defined by lawsuits and lawyers. Too often, school psychologists have been reactive rather than proactive. In the past, we too often allowed ourselves to be defined by one narrow function: administration of IQ tests. We are now painting ourselves into another corner with strong advocacy for administration of curriculum-based tests that, by the way, do not need our involvement except possibly for some supportive training of and consultation with teachers. In my opinion, we are diluting and neglecting the special, unique aspects of our roles that involve in-depth diagnostic assessment and research. We too frequently fail to insist on the inseparability of consultation and data collection. Data collection is by definition assessment. In the last several years there have been calls for increased flexibility in assessment and for use of responseto-intervention alternatives.

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