Children have the right to an appropriate education in the least restrictive educational setting. Decisions regarding the most appropriate environment and the most appropriate program should be based on data.
There are two types of testing: Norm-referenced testing and curriculum based assessements. The norm-referenced also called standardized testing compare the score of a student to a norm group of other students of his age and assigns a ranking depending on his results. Standardized testing is meant to compare students to other students. They serve to pinpoint general categories of strength or weaknessesand often are used to determine eligibility for services. However, they are not representative of students' experiences.
Students on the autism spectrum typically do poorly on standardized testing because their format is not adapted to their specific testing needs. For instance, if the student's behavior interfere with testing, his score might not be representative of his ability. Students on the spectrum do not typically generalize what they learned in one setting to a different setting nor do they generalize from one format to the other. They are often time penalized for answers they would have known had the questions been presented in a format and place they are familiar with.
Multi-faceted approaches such as curriculum based assessment look at the deficits and strength of the child anda re more reflective of student's knowledge. Curriculum based assessments also called criterion-referenced scores compare a student's performance against an objective of performance.
School or independent evaluations should assess children in all of the following areas, plus any others in which it appears that the child is experiencing difficulty: