Assessing Students with Exceptional Learning Needs

  • Jenna Bishop University of Calgary: Werklund School of Education
Keywords: Learning Disability, Autism, Assessment for Learning, Differentiated Instruction


A universal approach to teaching is no longer effective because it will not appropriately and effectively meets the learning needs of students in inclusive classrooms. As a result, teachers and school leaders must learn how to best support students with special needs, and educational leaders will need to provide professional learning opportunities and support to teachers to ensure that appropriate teaching and assessment practices are being utilized to effectively meet the needs of all students. The use of formative assessment is an effective tool for teachers to appropriately differentiate instruction through a Response to Intervention model. Despite potential challenges, leaders can have a positive impact on the success of inclusive assessment practices in their schools. To support all learners, it is essential that teachers create safe learning environments for their students. Also, leaders need to encourage collaboration and ongoing communication between the school and parents. Finally, students need to be involved in the learning process, so it is important that teachers get to know their students from both an academic and personal perspective. This will allow teachers to plan effective and appropriate opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning.

Author Biography

Jenna Bishop, University of Calgary: Werklund School of Education
I am a graduate student at the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. I am studying to earn a Masters in Education with a specialization in Leading for Learning.


Alberta Education. (2010). Making A Difference: Meeting diverse learning needs with differentiated instruction. Alberta: Crown in Right of Alberta.

Alberta Learning. (2002). Unlocking Potential: Key components of programming for students with learning disabilities. Alberta: Learning and Teaching Resources Branch.

Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (1998). Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 80(2), 139 -148. Retrieved from

Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (2004). Working inside the black box: Assessment for learning in the classroom. Phi Delta Kappan, 86(1), 9-21. Retrieved from

Bourke, R. & Mentis, M. (2014). An assessment framework for inclusive
education: integrating assessment approaches. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 21(4), 384-397. doi: 10.1080/0969594X.2014.888332

Bourke, R., Mentis, M. & Todd, L. (2011). Visibly learning: teachers’
assessment practices for students with high and very high needs. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 15(4), 405-419, doi:10.1080/13603110903038488

Chappuis, S. & Stiggins, R. J. (2002). Classroom assessment for learning. Educational Leadership, 60(1), 40 – 43. Retrieved from N=7386630&site=ehost-live

Learn Alberta. (2008). Assessment in Alberta – discussion paper. Retrieved from

Lin, P. & Lin, Y. (2015). Identifying Canadian teacher candidates' needs for
training in the use of inclusive classroom assessment. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 19(8), 771-786, doi: 10.1080/13603116.2014.970669

Morton, M., & McMenamin, T. (2011). Learning together: Collaboration to develop curriculum assessment that promotes belonging. Support for Learning, 26(3), 109-114. Retrieved from sid=google&auinit=M&aulast=Morton&atitle=Learning+together:+Collaboration+to+develop+curriculum+assessment+that+promotes+belonging&id=doi:10.1111/j.14679604.2011.01488.x&title=Support+for+learning&volume =26&issue=3&date=2011&spage=109&issn=0268-2141

Ravet, J. (2013). Delving deeper into the black box: Formative assessment, inclusion and learners on the autism spectrum. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 17(9), 948 – 964. doi: 10.1080/13603116.2012.719552

Volante, L. (2010). Assessment of, for, and as learning within schools: Implications for transforming classroom practice. Action in Teacher Education, 31(4), 66-75. Retrieved from 6

Webber, C.F., Scott, S., Aitken, E.N., Lupart, J., & Scott, D.E. (2013). Leading assessment for enhanced student outcomes. School Leadership & Management, 33(3), 240 – 255. Retrieved from
How to Cite
Bishop, J. (2019). Assessing Students with Exceptional Learning Needs. Emerging Perspectives: Interdisciplinary Graduate Research in Education and Psychology, 3(3), 1-8. Retrieved from