The initial assessment can include a formal assessment tool such as the Common Assessment of Basic Skills (see Information and Resources). It can also include in-house tools developed by the instructor or coordinator, such as pages from assessment resources that best fit your program.
Along with the tools you use, how you do the assessment is very important. Programs that took part in the SARAW survey ensured that learners were supported and comfortable during the initial assessment. One instructor conducted the initial assessment using a conversational approach. The focus was on their conversation, not on the tools (alphabet and word lists, pictures of coins and dollar bills, etc.). Some examples of the questions in the conversations were:
The conversation included identifying and saying the letters of the alphabet, reading word lists, sentences and paragraphs, identifying and counting coins and dollar bills.
Another important question to ask is how learners like to learn. In the SARAW Survey learners said that they like to learn when it is fun and engaging, and by listening, watching, reading, and using the computer.
Assessment for support (accommodations) for an individual's disability should also be part of the initial assessment. Assessing mobility, communication and intellectual accommodations may require a support worker or support person, adaptive devices for communication, and room arrangement for mobility. Key in assessing how you can accommodate people with disabilities is to look at your program through the lens of: