Title

Assessment of Cognitive Ability of Students with Severe and Low-Incidence Disabilities - Part 1

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2012

Abstract

Students with severe and low-incidence disabilities comprise a heterogeneous population that often presents a challenge to the professionals charged with evaluating their skills and abilities. This is especially true in conducting a valid assessment of the cognitive ability of these children. Often, school psychologists are limited to the use of published norm-referenced tests (Fagan & Wise, 2000) that provide limited meaningful information to be used for educational and treatment planning and programming (President's Commission on excellence in Special Education, 2002). While these assessments can produce a comprehensive picture of intellectual functioning for most typically developing children, it is much more difficult to obtain a valid picture of overall cognitive functioning and to delineate relative strengths and weaknesses for children with severe and low-incidence disabilities. Utilizing commonly used cognitive assessment tools with these students may not provide meaningful data that can be used for educational planning and programming. It is extremely important that the assessment tools are appropriate to the population because the information related to cognitive skills is vital in educational planning and a significant component of treatment evaluation (Delmolino, 2006). This article provides a review of the literature examining a variety of tests of cognitive ability that can be used with students with severe and low-incidence disabilities. Recommendations for assessment practices for a range of specific low-incidence disabilities are described.

Comments

Students with severe and low-incidence disabilities comprise a heterogeneous population that often presents a challenge to the professionals charged with evaluating their skills and abilities. This is especially true in conducting a valid assessment of the cognitive ability of these children. Often, school psychologists are limited to the use of published norm-referenced tests (Fagan & Wise, 2000) that provide limited meaningful information to be used for educational and treatment planning and programming (President's Commission on excellence in Special Education, 2002). While these assessments can produce a comprehensive picture of intellectual functioning for most typically developing children, it is much more difficult to obtain a valid picture of overall cognitive functioning and to delineate relative strengths and weaknesses for children with severe and low-incidence disabilities. Utilizing commonly used cognitive assessment tools with these students may not provide meaningful data that can be used for educational planning and programming. It is extremely important that the assessment tools are appropriate to the population because the information related to cognitive skills is vital in educational planning and a significant component of treatment evaluation (Delmolino, 2006). This article provides a review of the literature examining a variety of tests of cognitive ability that can be used with students with severe and low-incidence disabilities. Recommendations for assessment practices for a range of specific low-incidence disabilities are described.