||Lesson 3: Readings (1)
Current Dimensions of Technology-Based Assessment
Greenwood, C. R. and Rieth, H. J. (1994).
Exceptional Children, 61 (2), 105-113.
Abstracted by Krista Fritz Rogers
A history of innovation coupled with current trends in educational reform has spurred development of technology-based assessment in special education. As educators concurrently devise new assessment methods and computer engineers develop new technologies, these professional areas cross paths and new possibilities for computer-based assessment emerge. The outcomes show up as improved capabilities for describing special education problems and responding effectively. This article focuses on prominent characteristics of the current generation of technology-based assessment - technological capabilities, innovative assessment methods, and factors that impact utilization.
In this context, technology-based assessment refers to using electronic systems and software to evaluate the progress of individual students in educational environments. Computer-based techniques range from versions of traditional methods to versions of newer assessment tools. The focus here is how effective assessment of children with disabilities can help develop, evaluate, and update their individualized education programs (IEPs) per the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Many people look to technology-based assessment as key to including persons with disabilities in the assessment process. As the technology provides adaptations and accommodations and/or new methods of assessment, it also has the potential to tear down traditional barriers. Technology-based assessment is demonstrating an ability to manage the assessment process faster with higher quality results while simultaneously reducing labor-intensive aspects (e.g., tedious manual recording and graphing of data).
In simple terms, technology's continually increasing capabilities and expanding availability go hand in hand with the growing number of ways to use assessment information and the expectations that it will deliver utility and value.
The technology itself offers many possibilities to eliminate barriers to inclusion. Contemporary features and tools from integration of text, graphics, audio, and video, to cross-platform hardware, networks (from single-classroom networks to the Internet), expert systems, and assessment instrument authoring software.
Developments in assessment theory and methods have focused on student performance in the context of services (e.g., during classroom instruction, on the job) rather than norm-referenced tests. Assessment methods with a basis in technology include dynamic assessment, criterion-referenced testing, curriculum-based measurement, behavioral assessment, and thinking/cognitive process assessment.
Finally, the variables that impact utilization warrant examination. Examples of these variables include access to and integration of technology-based tools in the culture of the school system; availability of adequate and appropriate user training; provisions for user support; obsolescence that renders tools inadequate and impossible to implement or use; and costs related to acquisition, maintenance, and upgrades.
Technology-based assessment presents significant opportunities to improve special education via a greater impact on practice once schools and districts overcome practical barriers (e.g., cost), once tools are "practitioner friendly," and once researchers offer definitive levels of success on several counts.