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Gathering Evidence and Information on Students for Psychological Assessments

When primary school teachers observe behaviours or patterns that may indicate a child is experiencing challenges in accessing the curriculum, understanding social expectations, or exhibiting behaviours that raise concerns, it is critical to collate objective evidence. This evidence is essential for facilitating discussions with parents and seeking support and advice from in-school supports, such as special educators.

This evidence supports the teacher's observations and provides valuable information for parents and professionals involved in the child's assessment and support plan.

Here's a breakdown of the types of evidence a teacher might gather:

Behavioural Observations

  • Consistency Across Settings: Observe whether the behaviors are consistent across different settings, such as the classroom, playground, and during various types of activities.

  • Social Interactions: Take note of how the child interacts with peers and adults, including difficulties in making and keeping friends, understanding social cues, or engaging in cooperative play.

  • Poor Attention: Document instances of inattention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity that are beyond what is typically expected for children of the same age.

  • Response to Routine: Note any difficulties with changes in routine or transitions.

  • Emotional Regulation: Observe the child’s ability to regulate emotions compared to peers.

Academic Performance

  • Learning Progress: Document the child's progress in acquiring new skills and knowledge.

  • Homework/Classwork: Keep records of completed and incomplete assignments, noting any patterns of difficulties or inconsistencies in performance.

  • Assessment Results: Utilize standardized test scores and informal assessments to provide insights into areas of difficulty or concern.

Communication Skills

  • Verbal and Nonverbal Communication: Document challenges with both verbal (e.g., delayed speech, difficulties in using or understanding language) and nonverbal communication (e.g., limited eye contact, facial expressions).

  • Comprehension: Make observations regarding the child's ability to understand instructions and follow directions.

Physical Development

  • Motor Skills: Document any concerns related to fine motor skills (e.g., writing, using scissors) and gross motor skills (e.g., running, jumping) that may provide insight into the child’s challenges.

Anecdotal Records

  • Specific Incidents: Provide detailed accounts of specific incidents that highlight the child’s challenges or behaviors of concern.

  • Parent/Teacher Communication: Note conversations with parents that may provide additional insights or corroborate school-based observations.

Peer Comparisons

  • Comparison with Peers: While maintaining confidentiality, general observations about how the child’s behavior or performance compares with that of peers can be useful.

Gathering Evidence: Best Practices

  • Confidentiality: Ensure all observations and records are kept confidential and shared only with those directly involved in supporting the child.

  • Objectivity: Strive to document observations objectively, focusing on specific behaviors and outcomes rather than subjective interpretations.

  • Consistency: Regular documentation over time provides a clearer picture of the child’s needs and development.

Thoughtfully and sensitively presented evidence can help parents understand their child's experiences in the school setting and form the basis for discussions about further evaluation and support.

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