» Daffodil - Background Information Inclusive Education

Inclusion in education is a fundamental human right for every child and young person. There are no legitimate reasons to separate children for their education, so developing inclusion demands that we start reducing segregation now and set goals for ending it completely.

Inclusion in education involves:

Recognising that inclusion in education is one aspect of inclusion in society.

Restructuring the cultures, policies and practices in schools so that they respond to the diversity of students in their area.

Increasing the participation of students in, and reducing their exclusion from, the cultures, curricula and communities of local schools.

Valuing all students and staff equally.

Reducing barriers to learning and participation for all students, not only those with impairments or those who are categorised as ‘having special educational needs’.

Viewing the difference between students as resources to support learning, rather than as problems to be overcome.

Acknowledging the right of students to an education in their local area.

Improving schools for staff as well as for students.

Emphasising the role of schools in building community and developing values, as well as in increasing achievement.

Fostering mutually sustaining relationships between schools and communities.

There is no teaching or care that takes place in a segregated special school which cannot also take place in an ordinary school and given commitment and support, inclusive education is a more efficient use of educational resources. Inclusion is a process, not a state and a good inclusive school is one that is on the move. All children need an education that will help them develop relationships and prepare them for life in mainstream society – inclusive schools have that potential to reduce fear, offer a diversity of teaching and allow the building of friendships, respect and understanding.

—InClues

» Recommendation Documents Cyprus recommendations

Cyprus recommendations on Inclusive Assessment – EADSNE

“In October 2008, the European Agency for Development of Special Needs Education, with official delegates from the governments of all European countries, adopted a final resolution about “Inclusive Assessment”, urging policy makers and professionals working with children with special needs, to change their policies and practicies regarding assessment of children’s learning results and functioning, in order that this will not lead to excluding them from participating in regular mainstream education. The text of the resolution can be downloaded here”

Cognitive Education

Cognition should be defined in a broad sense: it deals with gathering, elaborating and producing information. Cognitive education is not equal to academic skills learning or content learning. It teaches the HOW of learning: how one learns how to learn, how to gather, elaborate and to produce information. It concerns the prerequisites of thinking, in other terms “cognitive functions”, such as: to be systematic, to use concepts and give labels, to recognize characteristics, to be precise, to combine, to relate, to compare, to plan, to hypothesize, find rules, to apply, to verify, etc. Often cognition is (wrongly) used in a narrow sense of acquiring knowledge, leaving out emotional and motivational aspects. Cognitive functions are needed in almost all domains of life, in every mental act: it is required for thinking, for planning, carrying out and monitoring complex activities; for dealing with emotions, for creative thinking as well as for understanding social situations.

Cognitive education is thus mainly concerned with activating cognitive functions. This helps the child in the inclusion - in the sense of a full participation and full benefit of education in a mainstream setting - because it equips the child with the necessary tools to understand more and learn better.

In an ever-changing worldall children need to develop cognitive competencies which enable them to adapt to a variety of technical, social and cultural changes. Knowledge rapidly obsoletes nowadays. Therefore teachers need to teach all children how to think and activate their cognitive functions. It is often better to teach children to think properly and to teach them how to learn properly, in order to become independent learners, than to teach all the currently available knowledge.

—Jo Lebeer for InClues 2005

Dynamic Assessment

In educational counseling, “classic” psychometric testing is often deceptive. It is called “static” because the child’s performance is measured in a static way, no changes are recorded and no intervention is allowed by the examiner, this for the sake of so-called objectivity when comparing children among each other. While originally conceived by Binet as an instrument to plan education, psychometric testing has been criticized for reinforcing pre-established pessimism, for not going beyond a mere labeling of dysfunctions, for lack of giving proper advice as how to change the child’s learning, for not doing justice to the child’ potential (Dias, 2001). Psychometric testing however is a short and relatively cheap way to rank a child’s performance in a population of the same age and may give quick information as to diagnosis.

As an alternative, a more dynamic model of evaluation has been proposed (Feuerstein et al., 1979). Feuerstein et al. criticize the psychometric testing paradigm for being too “static”: it is based on the assumption that intelligence is a property of the individual, grossly determined by innate capacity, which can supposedly be “tapped” by adequate measurement and so-called IQ test. Mostly this leads to lowering the level of expectations, the level of abstraction, the amount, complexity and functionality. IQ testing is often accompanied by recommendations to parents to accept the inevitable truth as it is. Not all parents, however, resign to the child’s low test outcomes and look at it in a different way. They often know “intuitively” that the child has more potential. But the opposite is also true: parents overestimating or almost denying a child’s limitations.

Dynamic assessment starts from a dynamic model of intelligence. Feuerstein uses the concept of modifiability of the individual, indicating that what matters is how an individual may become modified by stimuli, and adapts himself to changing circumstances. Cognitive functioning is not a priori determined from birth. Individuals may be impaired in their cognitive performance due to various reasons, external or endogenous, but the resulting cognitive malfunctioning is considered as fluctuating states of the individual rather than permanent traits. In this sense dynamic assessment goes beyond labeling and categorization of children in diagnostic categories. There is a continuing spectrum of cognitive and learning behavior functioning, which does not allow a discontinuous split between “normal” and abnormal.

Several dynamic assessment systems to evaluate learning potential have been developed. Some have tried to develop a quantitative measurement, responding to the criteria of validity and reliability of psychometric test development (Guthke, Hessels, Büchel, Hamers & Ruyssenaars). Others have tried to incorporate it into curriculum-based assessment (Resing, Lidz). There are multiple dynamic assessment test batteries on the market: besides the “original” Feuerstein LPAD (Learning Propensity Assessment Device), some of Feuerstein’s pupils have developed their own, such as e.g. the Cognitive Modifiability Battery (Tzuriel), which has been extensivey research, as well as Haywood & Lidz (2007).

A first characteristic of dynamic assessment is that it gives an in-depth view of the modifiability of cognitive functioning, or more exactly: cognitive processing. It probes into the “why” a child does not learn adequately, does not get to the answer. Then dynamic assessment tries to find out how the child can come to an answer, by giving the child more mediation. Digging into the basic cognitive processing of information by the child, gives interesting transversal information, how the child could function, given the proper conditions of mediated learning and context.

A second characteristic is that dynamic assessment has an eye for the learning context and interaction. “Classic” psychometric or psychodynamic evaluation is hardly contextual.

Dynamic assessment also evaluates the child’s learning disposition, which contains many motivational and contextual elements. Whether a child learns of not has many non-intellective factors, such as self-regulation, feelings of competence, reaction to challenge, criticism, need for mastery, need for individuality, etc. Those are not evaluated in classic psychometric testing.

Fourthly, dynamic assessment is highly interactive. One needs to create a motivating learning situation. Contrary to testing, in dynamic assessment the assessor is at the same time an educator. The learning the child will show depends on the quality of mediation given. This is the strength of the LPAD and at the same time its weakness. The kind and intensity of mediation during the assessment give clear indications of how to mediate the child in the subsequent educational intervention plan. But no conclusion can be permitted when the child does not perform.

Dynamic assessment radically differs from testing and has different purposes: not to compare children among each other, not to rank them, not to predict, but to understand, explore, advise and design interventions.

In this way, LPAD may shift the educational perspective of the child. During the interaction, and through the mediational process, the child becomes aware of its potential and competence. That needs sometimes very intensive mediation. Then, if adequately communicated, also parents and teachers may shift their views on the child’s potential. When they start seeing what the child is able to do, or possibly able to learn, they may start offering different things. One could say that dynamic assessment helps to define the situation otherwise, in essence to define intelligence as a modifiability, and to elicit the best possible performance in a child as well as in the professional. Thus it may profoundly change the life course of an individual and possibly of entire populations.

—Jo Lebeer for Daffodil Project, 2009

More Information:

Dias, B. (20014), De l’évaluation psychométrique à l’évaluation du potential d’apprentissage, Luzern: SZH

Feuerstein, R., Feuerstein, R.S., Falik, L.H. & Y.Rand (2002), The dynamic assessment of cognitive modifiability, Jerusalem: ICELP Press

Gould, S. J. (1994). The Mismeasure of Man: Revised edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Haywood, H.C. & C. Lidz (2007), Dynamic Assessment in Practice , Cambridge University Press

Lebeer, J. (2005), Shifting perspective: dynamic assessment of learning processes in children with developmental disabilities, Erdélyi Pszichológiai Szemle (Transsylvanian Journal of Psychology), Special Issue on Dynamic Assessment, 1,55-85

Tzuriel, D.(2002) , Dynamic Assessment in Young Children, New York: Kluwer

Lifelong Learning Programme

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein

Inclues – A European Network for Inclusive and Cognitive Education
Newsletter 2011