Many assessment teams and educators have found creative and flexible methods for completing evaluation components virtually. These include adopting new measures that allow for the flexibility required in virtual administration and working collaboratively with Part C programs to share data and observations as children transition between programs.
Note > T-TAC ODU has many of these assessments available in the Lending Library for review. See: Tools with Potential for Remote Administration
Considerations & Guidance
There do continue to be specific cases where programs must adapt the use of a standardized measure to virtual and hybrid models where procedures for individual items are modified or adjusted. It is important to note scores derived from administering a norm-referenced assessment in a non-standard manner must be interpreted with caution.
Many publishers have released specific guidance and in some case additional training and strategies for virtual administration. Some common norm and criterion-referenced assessments include:
- Ages & Stages Questionnaire-3 and ASQ:SE Edition
- Assessment, Evaluation, and Programming System (AEPS)
- Battelle Developmental Inventory, 2nd Edition
- Battelle Developmental Inventory, 3rd Edition
- Behavior Assessment System for Children, 3rd Edition
- Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test
- Preschool Language Scales, 5th Edition
- Teaching Strategies GOLD
- Transdisciplinary Play-Based Assessment
- Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, 3rd Edition
Steps to Virtual Lemonade
During T-TAC ODU’s Coaching Conversations series with early childhood special educators this summer, three developmental specialists from Child Development Resources in Williamsburg shared “lessons learned” from several months of virtually assessing young children using a measure with strict administration procedures. Here are some takeaways from that Coaching Conversations session, including links to view each clip in context.
Send an email in advance with the materials required for the assessment and ideas for substitutions in the event the family does not have a particular play item available (i.e. tuna cans or tiny spice containers in place of stacking blocks).
See the Clip > What to share in advanceCoaching Conversations: August 31, 2020
Two to three days prior to the assessment, call the family to review how long they can expect the session to last and what activities (i.e. play, interview, observation) will be completed. Problem solve substitutions for any missing props or play items they may use to elicit test items.
Determine which device and method they will use to connect to the session and troubleshoot any issues they may have doing so.
Provide suggestions for device placement to ensure you have an adequate view of the child’s performance.
If there are multiple people in the home, one may be able to hold the computer, tablet, or phone to aim the camera. If there is a single parent or caregiver involved, you will need to help them devise a means for holding the device upright. Family connecting by phone? A shoe makes a quick phone holder so you can observe from a more distant vantage point.
Suggest families place assessment materials on a box or coffee table to bring them up to the child’s eye level, allowing you to more easily observe their performance.
See the Clip > Check in and explain the processCoaching Conversations: August 31, 2020
Consider what’s in your own toolkit and have common items to use as props or examples, as well as actual test materials from the assessment kit, within reach.
Placing a laptop on a makeshift stand or using a separate webcam allows for more flexibility in pivoting your screen up and down or moving your view as you model tasks throughout the assessment.
See the Clip > Setting up your virtual assessment spaceCoaching Conversations: August 31, 2020
When a test item requires specific administration procedures that can be elicited by parents during the session, provide explicit instructions and coach the parent to give the child wait time after each prompt. When appropriate, demonstrate items such as pre-writing strokes, before asking the parent to prompt the child.
Utilize common video conference functions, like screen share, to visually present test items when appropriate (i.e. labeling pictures). Support parents in effectively prompting the child to respond.
See the Clip > Coaching parents to elicit test itemsCoaching Conversations: August 31, 2020
See the Clip > Making use of screen share during administrationCoaching Conversations: August 31, 2020
Alternate Methods of Completion
It is unlikely all test items can be administered and observed in one virtual session. Given the variably of family schedules and an individual child’s preferences and attention span, teams may need to consider alternate methods for collecting evidence of remaining test items.
This may include providing caregivers a list of skills the team was unable or unlikely to observe during the assessment session and asking that they send video clips or pictures if the child performs them at any other time of day.
When provided in advance, educators can offer common skills that can be elicited or may be observed during specific routines, especially those associated with the area of delay.
After the assessment, prompt caregivers to take pictures or video of routines that may allow for many observations and interpretation of a child’s current functioning, such as playing with a sibling or eating a snack.
Ask follow-up questions of pictures or videos shared that clarify the context of the activity, time spent, and any other details required to interpret and score the child’s performance.
See the Clip > Interpreting artifacts provided by caregiversCoaching Conversations: August 31, 2020
Finally, consider soliciting these caregiver provided artifacts in an ongoing manner as a method of monitoring progress to inform instructional planning.
While data collected virtually can still offer important insights and help inform instructional planning, it’s important to document any administration methods or issues that likely impacted results.
Teams should note any adaptations or omission of test items and any family considerations so they may be included in assessment summaries and the Present Level of Performance.
In considering the diagnostic accuracy of non-standard administration, teams should consider reporting strengths and weaknesses found rather than specific scores compared to a normed population.
- Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center: Remote Screening, Evaluation, and Assessment
- Rapid Response-Virtual Home Visiting: Observing in the Virtual Environment Tip Sheet
- T-TAC ODU: Coaching Conversations series (with sections highlighting assessment practices noted in video timestamps)
- Virgnia’s Early Intervention Strategies for Success Blog: Tele-Assessment Video Chats & Strategies: You’ve Got This!