Getting an Accurate Present Level of Performance by Finding “Splinter Skills”

Are we providing a realistic representation of all “the skills sets” that students have beyond the traditional “ceiling” of assessments? A more precise report of an individual’s “set of skills” as well as “splinter skills” would provide more accurate information for developing an effective program plan based on one’s “true skills sets”. Data from multi-year study is used to answer these questions.

A significant part of the IEP process is developing a true present level of academic and functional performance (PLOP). We report on using standardized instruments in a non-traditional manner. The results provide a more accurate PLOP and a more suitable program for those students. The null hypothesis was that students with severe disabilities do not have skills beyond a ‘ceiling’ of formal assessment. Data was collected using formal assessment procedures and parent report instruments over several years. We used a traditional standardized test and then we went beyond the “ceiling” of that instrument, a nontraditional approach. We wanted to determine if these students had “splinter skills” beyond the “ceiling. These “splinter skills” are not reported because information reported is in accordance to the administration guidelines of formal testing. We administered the assessment components beyond the traditional “ceiling”. In doing so, we found many students had “splinter skills” unreported using the traditional means of test protocol. Finally, we will discuss our findings which resulted in a “more accurate picture” using a nontraditional means of measuring a student’s true set of skills which did not follow the traditional development sequencing of skills. Skills were assessed across all of developmental domains as measured by standardized instruments. Students’ results showed higher skill levels based on the identification and inclusion of “splinter skills” not previously reported. By using this more accurate picture of an individual’s skill sets a more appropriate and accurate educational program could be designed.

Participants’ outcomes include the following:

  1. 1. Limitations of traditional standardized testing and nontraditional means of evaluating an individual’s accurate set of skill in developing programs for individuals with severe disabilities.
  2. 2. Using newly acquired means of skills sets to create appropriate PLOP statements.
  3. 3. Creating more effective programs that take advantage of all the skill and “splinter skills.”

Dennis Campbell, AmySue Reilly