Using the Assessment of Basic Language and Learner Skills to Guide Your Instruction

Categories: Data | Resources

Last time I talked about the new ABLLS (Assessment of Basic Language and Learner Skills) task cards.  This week I wanted to take a closer look into the data you have collected and how to use it to guide your instruction.  I feel like it’s safe to assume that you might have kids in all different areas of the scoring rubric and possibly limited time and resources.   Here are some simple steps I like to follow:

  1. Collect that data!

While the ABLLS has so many different sub areas and can take a while to complete, the information you gain is priceless! It’s also important to note that you do not necessarily have to do every section.  I picked several areas I wanted to focus on and went from there.  Of course, if you see a gap or are struggling in another area, it would benefit you to make sure you cover that section of the ABLLS.

2.  Analyze!

The visual tracking system that comes with the rubric is the most satisfying part of the ABLLS.  Nothing makes me happier than taking my flair tip colored fine point markers and filling in those little boxes (don’t deny it…. you know that feeling).   I update my ABLLS tracking system quarterly when our progress reports go out.   During the first Quarter, I look at each area and start at the bottom of the tracking guide and look for the first row with an empty box.  I look at the rubric guide and figure out what the next step is.  For example, section B- Visual Performance.  I had a friend score a zero on B4- Match identical objects to pictures. Looking back at the previous sections in B, he also came up missing a few skills in B1-B3.  While I wanted to make sure I incorporated puzzle skills (single inset and form boxes), I checked to see if he knew how to match identical objects to a sample first (B3). The ABLLS does a great job listing criteria in each scoring number so there’s no question where to start!

3.  Guiding Instruction

You might be thinking by now, well my kid has a lot of missing skills at this time.  How am I possibly supposed to work on everything?  I’m here to tell you it’s possible if you plan efficiently.  I love centers, circle time or morning meeting, lessons and work tasks that target multiple skills at once.  The fact that there are new ABLLS task cards that directly relate to EVERY section of the ABLLS still blows my mind.  Once assembled, you can easily pull out the exact task box needed and directly target those skills.  We have been having a lot of indoor recess lately due to weather and we have been using that time to pull out the file folders and task cards.  Before you start a lesson, you could warm up with a puzzle or work on social interactions during circle time.  There are so many ways you can incorporate these skills in your instruction and day.

4.  Make those lists!

I found myself overwhelmed with trying to remember all of the areas that needed to be worked on, so I made a simple list with the name of the student and a few of the skills I want to target in that month.  Here is an example:

  1. Sara- Puzzles with single inset, form boxes, match identical objects to sample, match objects to pictures, match identical picture to sample when given 3, imitation of directions (come here, turn around, sit down, etc)
  2. Jax: adjectives, associations, letter ident., counting, number ident.
  3. Josiah:Expressive colors, expressive shapes, expressive nouns (this is a…), recep & exp actions, recep & exp object function & categories, block designs from picture, block designs by a teacher (imitate)- could do this before each work session and during whole group circle time, verbal play requests initiated by teacher


Resources you can use:

These are some of my favorites resources that target skills in the ABLLS.  As I always tell teachers, these are truly such foundational needed skills.  You cannot possibly target harder standards until you have these established! If you’re wondering why a student is not successful with letter or number identification, look at these skills.  You will be so happy you did! Happy skill mastering!


The new Assessment of Basic Language and Learner Skill Task Cards! You can find them here.  These cards come in a bundle or individuals! 

Category and Feature Boards! 

The ABLLS Resource Kit

Gina Russell, B.S , M.Ed
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