Academic achievement assessment is typically included in a full individual evaluation for any student considered for special education services. Careful evaluation of academic strengths and needs can provide helpful information about academic and school success, as well as significant insight into factors (both general and subject-specific) that may have an adverse impact on academic achievement, including identification of learning gaps that have not previously been noted.
Students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) tend to struggle with subjects requiring conceptualizing abstract information (e.g., mathematics, time concepts) and sequencing narratives and themes either verbally or in written form (i.e., reading comprehension, reporting on events). It is not uncommon for reading recoding skills to be better than reading comprehension (Saulnier & Ventola, 2012). Practitioners are encouraged to use formal and informal assessments based on the individual’s needs (Hagiwara, 2001-2002; Meyer, 2001-2002).
Criterion-referenced and norm-referenced assessments are common, traditional approaches to assessing academic achievement. However, some of the demands related to traditional, standardized testing may be difficult for students with ASD, related to their trouble with cognitive flexibility, executive functioning, and behavioral self-regulation (Hill, 2004); moreover, norm-referenced test results are rarely useful for informing classroom-based instructional needs (Marston, Fuchs, & Deno, 1986). For these reasons, curriculum-based measurement (CBM) may be particularly for evaluating the academic performance of students with ASD and creating meaningful instructional goals for them.
No instruments reviewed within this section were specifically developed to assess academic achievement in persons with ASD, and little research has been conducted to examine the use of these instruments in this population (see information later in this introduction regarding available research). However, when examiners and evaluation teams make eligibility, programming, and/or intervention decisions based on information gathered from multiple and diverse sources and approaches, assessment linked to intervention is maximized.
Included within this section of the TARGET is summary information about the following instruments for academic achievement assessment:
- Bilingual Verbal Ability Tests (BVAT-NU)
- Diagnostic Achievement Battery–Fourth Edition (DAB-4)
- Gray Oral Reading Test–Fifth Edition (GORT-5)
- Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement–Third Edition (KTEA-3)
- KeyMath Diagnostic Assessment–Third Edition (KeyMath-3)
- Oral and Written Language Scales–Second Edition (OWLS-II)
- Qualitative Reading Inventory-Sixth Edition (QRI-6)
- Test of Early Math Ability–Third Edition (TEMA-3)
- Test of Early Reading Ability–Fourth Edition (TERA-4)
- Test of Early Written Language–Third Edition (TEWL-3)
- Test of Mathematical Abilities–Third Edition (TOMA-3)
- Test of Reading Comprehension–Fourth Edition (TORC-4)
- Test of Word Reading Efficiency–Second Edition (TOWRE-2)
- Test of Written Language–Third Edition (TOWL-4)
- Test of Written Spelling–Fifth Edition (TWS-5)
- Wechsler Individual Achievement Test–Third Edition (WIAT-III)
- Wide Range Achievement Test, Fifth Edition (WRAT-5)
- Woodcock-Johnson IV Tests of Achievement–Fourth Edition (WJ-IV ACH)
- Woodcock-Muñoz Language Survey–Revised Normative Update (WMLS-R NU)
- Woodcock Reading Mastery Test–Third Edition (WRMT-III)
The summary of academic achievement assessments included in this section is not intended to be all-inclusive. Rather, the assessments were selected based on their prevalence within clinical and academic settings as well as their relevance to children with ASD.