Alex’s Low Down on EPSY 324

Hello! It has been a long time since I have blogged, but in one of my night classes we were asked to do a summary of learning in whatever form we wanted, so I chose to blog. Underneath is a list of what I thought were the most prominent things I learned throughout this course. Enjoy 🙂

#1: The Four Pillars

The Four pillars of assessment definitely stick out as one of the most prominent topics I have learned this semester. “What are the four pillars of assessment?” you might ask.

Screen Shot 2016-12-14 at 1.06.26 PM.png

Visual of The Four Pillars


They are Norm-Referenced Tests, Interviews, Observations, and Informal Assessment Procedures. Norm-referenced tests are standardized tests that are scaled so that each score is ranked by the defined norm group is. These tests can assess intelligence, reading, mathematics, writing, adaptive behaviour, and more. The second pillar, Interviews, are for the assessor to gain more information from the child, his/her parents, the teacher, and other people that are familiar with the child. The purpose of interviews are to get a big picture of the child because everyone views things differently and a child’s behaviour and capability can change as they change their environment throughout the day. Observations which is the third pillar involves viewing the child in their normal environment. A person does this because a child might be an entirely different person outside of their comfortable surroundings. This pillar is especially important if the assessor does not already have a relationship with the child, and when doing your observations it is important to observe in many different surroundings to be able to tell what is causing a child’s behaviour to change. The last pillar is informal assessment procedures which can be criterion-referenced tests (if you are not sure what this means keep reading), writing samples, phonics tests, prior school records, etc. These informal procedures help to decide which interventions may be best suited to each child. These four pillars are very important because assessments lead to making decisions about a child’s education, and without all four pillars you do not get the whole picture of that child.


#2: Criterion-Referenced vs. Norm-Referenced

Before this course, I had never heard of criterion or norm-referenced tests before so when asked what the difference was between the two I had no idea. Norm-referenced means the results of a child’s test are going to be compared to what is considered normal for that child’s age, grade, or class. Criterion-referenced does not involve comparison to any other student. It simply means that the results will be given by how much the student got correct out of how many questions they were given in total. We watched a very helpful video in one of the classes (start video at 1:19 for information just about criterion-referenced vs. norm-referenced).

#3: Bias and Culture Fair Tests2b1c53ea0bd3c358c9dc33f392c569fc.jpg

One thing I believe to be an important topic is bias. There has been speculation about the validity of norm-referenced assessment because students of minorities tend to do worse on these assessments. Students from lower economic standing and students that are not from a western culture often are at a disadvantage from the beginning when it comes to these tests. The reason this affects the validity is because the test is not truly norm-referenced if students with an average IQ are scoring lower than they should just because of the vocabulary in the test or because their culture/social standing put them at a disadvantage. In an effort to overcome these biases, Culture-Fair tests were created. Culture Fair tests are defined as tests that attempt to provide equal opportunities for success for students with different cultures and life experiences.

#4: Don’t Drive Without A License


No good can come of getting behind the wheel of a car with no license, and even with a license you aren’t gonna jump on a Harley having never driven a motorcycle. This analogy is a lot like doing assessments. To do an assessment you have to be comfortable and you also have to be prepared and have the right credentials depending on the assessment. Some assessments just require a class to use their test while others require you to be a registered psychologist. However, even with the correct credentials you should also be well prepared and feel comfortable administering any type of norm-referenced assessment.

#5: Intelligence Tests:

For the chapter presentations my group presented on Intelligence Tests and Adaptive Behaviour Scales. I learned a lot about what the different intelligence tests assess, what the results mean, as well as how they can be very beneficial to students. For our presentation, we met with a school psychologist (Tanya) who gave us a lot of information for our presentation. The one thing that really stuck with me was how to communicate the results to the family. Tanya said that on top of her entire report she writes she also likes to include visuals. For a lot of parents the language these assessments use is not very accessible for them. Providing visuals helps them to see the results instead of just reading them.

#6: Definitions:

To finish off my list of the important things I have learned in EPSY 324 I wanted to share some definitions I think are important from this course:

Splinter Skills: behaviour developed in isolation from related skills

Developmental Scales:  checklists of behaviour arranged by skill area in chronological order

Intelligence: A trait or construct associated with cognitive or intellectual capacity and directly to the potential or ability to learn

Adaptive Behaviour: The conceptual, social, and practical skills children need in their daily lives to function and to adapt to changes

Informant : Usually a teacher or parent who knows the student’s typical performance in real-life settings

Norm-Referenced Score – Compares student’s performance to others. Compares individual score to the average of the norm. The norm includes a wide range of students (cultural, ethnic, geographic, economic backgrounds).

Criterion- Referenced Score – describe what a student can do. If test items accurately reflect the instructional content the test score is sound. (Teacher made tests)

Although taking this course at the beginning of my teacher education was a bit intimidating, I am happy I have the knowledge of assessment to carry me through the next two and a half years of my degree and well into my teaching career. I would like to thank my prof, Carrie Dutkiwch, for her charismatic and intriguing class. This is one of those classes I know will give me the framework for much of my profession.