Done in Sixty Seconds: Further Analysis of the Brief Assessment Model for Academic Problems. (Research into Practice)

By Jones, Kevin M.; Wickstrom, Katherine F. | School Psychology Review, Fall 2002 | Go to article overview

Done in Sixty Seconds: Further Analysis of the Brief Assessment Model for Academic Problems. (Research into Practice)


Jones, Kevin M., Wickstrom, Katherine F., School Psychology Review


Abstract. A brief experimental analysis of four instructional strategies was administered to 5 children referred for remedial reading services. Using a multi-element design, examiners compared the relative effects of incentives, repeated practice, increased learning trials, and easier materials on oral reading fluency. Assessment isolated a single, effective strategy for each child. Alternating treatment designs were then employed to assess the differential effects of the selected strategy across time and on repeated measures of word acquisition and generalization. For 4 of 5 children, the effects of the selected strategy were stable across time and collateral effects on generalization passages were observed. For 2 of these children, collateral improvements on word acquisition were also observed. Strengths and limitations of an emerging assessment technology for academic problems are discussed.

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Recent amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA; PL 105-17) advocate for a shift in assessment practices from classifying children to identifying resources for promoting functional outcomes. IDEA, which has never actually required differential classification of individual children, now includes strong language supporting measurement of curricular progress and direct assessment of the educational needs of children.

Assessment reform and advances in school psychology have highlighted the importance of using assessment methods that contribute directly to instructional design and the improved educational outcomes of children (Reschly, Tilly & Grimes, 1999; Shinn, 1998). Alternative assessment models are available, with most incorporating features of curriculum-based measurement (CBM) and functional assessment.

CBM is often advanced as an effective method for linking assessment to treatment (Shapiro, 1996; Shinn, 1989). CBM refers to short-duration tests derived specifically from the child's reading, spelling, and math curriculum materials. In reading, for example, a typical CBM administration requires a child to read aloud for 1 minute from several randomly selected passages derived from the child's curriculum materials. Performance is translated into the average number of correct words per minute. Although exceptionally brief in duration, CBM reading scores correlate well with traditional (norm-referenced, teacher judgments) measures of decoding and comprehension, and reliably differentiate special education status (Marston, 1989). Further, CBM reading scores appear to be one of the most valid measures available for monitoring reading competence (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1999; Hintze, Owen, Shapiro, & Daly, 2000).

Functional assessment refers to any systematic attempt to describe and formulate hypotheses about the relationship between environmental stimuli and behavior (Ervin et al., 2001). Hypothesis development and testing may involve a range of tactics, but the most commonly researched and arguably the most rigorous is an experimental analysis. An experimental analysis typically involves direct assessment of high-rate problem behaviors while potential maintaining variables are systematically manipulated. For example, Roberts, Marshall, Nelson, and Albers (2001) conducted an experimental analysis of the off-task behavior of 3 children. Reliable increases in off-task levels were observed when children were presented with tasks at a frustrational level, compared to instructional level or nonacademic tasks. These findings were used to support the hypothesis that the off-task behaviors of these children were maintained by escape from difficult work demands. The authors predicted that strengthening or increasing the acade mic skills of the 3 children would reduce the motivation for, and thus decrease, avoidant behavior.

Functional assessment models have primarily targeted hypotheses regarding variables that maintain maladaptive (e. …

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