Beginning of the Year: Assessments

Categories: Curriculum Ideas

What assessments are critical for the start of the year? The start of the year is crazy enough that the thought of cramming in some all important year-defining assessment seems as inviting as attending a professional development session on a Sunday. But some assessments are worth the hassle. Some assessments are actually useful. That’s the key – you want the assessment to give you information that can help you plan goals and programs for your student.

Tips to Beginning of the Year Assessments:

  • Start small. Set small and manageable goals related to assessment. Don’t try to get your whole class done in one week. Don’t try giving each student 5 different assessments.
  • Prioritize. Focus on your newer students or more challenging behaviors. Figure out which assessments are most important to give first. Maybe some are mandated by your district and you don’t have a choice.
  • Pick and Choice. You don’t need to give the same assessment to every student. Do what works for each student and his IEP.
  • Break it up. I find that the most successful way of giving assessments is to work it into the students’ regular daily schedule. I give short sections of the assessment during my direct instruction time so for the student it just seems like “work tasks.”
  • Take your time. You don’t need to get everything done in the first week. Heck, you don’t even need to get it all done in the first month. You would rather take your time and get the assessments done right than rush and have them done crappily.


Assessments I do in the Beginning of the Year (not for all students, not by the first day of school):

  1. Assessment of Basic Language and Learning: ABLLS stands for the assessment of basic language and learning skills. It’s assessment, curriculum guide, and tracking program for children with language delays. I use this for my lower level students. Here is more info:The Autism Helper - ABLLS
  2. Fountas and Pinnel Reading Assessment to assess Guided Reading Level The Autism Helper
  3. Fluency Assessment  – I like this book. They have super quick fluency snapshots that are really easy to give. The Autism Helper
  4. Words their Way Spelling AssessmentThe Autism Helper


… and of course I have some “district mandated” tests that I have to do but I won’t bore you with those details. Hate to say it (but I will) – I get no meaningful info from that assessment. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.


What are your Beginning of the Year Assessments? 



  1. When you do the ABLLS Assessment, how long does it take per student? I need to reassess my students using ABBLLS, but I have found it takes me a long time. It would take be almost one full day focusing on just one student and I have 8 to assess? Any tips to speed up the process?

  2. It does take a long time but I usually space it out over 2-3 weeks. I incorporate it into my teacher time direct instruction time and do a little bit every other day. Takes a long time but it doesn’t feel rushed for me (or the student) and I find that I can more accurately assess them.

  3. Do you have any good examples of IEP goals taken from ABLLS assessment data or know where I can find some? Obviously, they musl be individualized but it helps a lot to have a jumping off point!


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