In a student’s mind, assessment is synonymous with “testing,” and nothing causes anxiety like the prospect of having to take a test. Most educators realize, however, that effective formative assessment of progress, learning, and educational experiences go way beyond test taking. Measuring student progress over time should include formal and informal assessment procedures and it requires tools that capture the full range of students’ experiences, preferences, and goals.
Such a comprehensive approach is especially important for secondary transition students who are non-verbal, non-readers, or maybe simply don’t do well on tests. If one of the goals of effective assessment is to develop learning activities to improve student progress over time, how best can individuals with exceptionalities realize that benefit?
Our work with the MyLife ePortfolio and IEP self-direction tool offers a powerful, dynamic, cognitively accessible solution for empowering students and their educational teams to discover, create, manage, share, and take ownership of their assessment and transition planning. This student-directed approach to learning reflects the IDEA mandate that appropriate measurable postsecondary goals be based on transition assessments.
The particular emphasis here is on the understanding that transition assessment is an “ongoing process” of collecting data on an individual’s strengths, needs, preferences, and interests over the course of a student’s educational experience. MyLife is an informal assessment tool that can support students and their teams by providing a platform for effectively collaborating while students build their own educational stories, communicate their goals, and evolve their learning profiles as they mature.
MyLife also supports ongoing self-directed assessment by helping students understand IEP goals in their own words and then easily document and share their strengths, preferences, interests, needs and goals, while tracking ongoing progress through the school year and ultimately across the transition from school to adulthood.
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Julie Henning has been with Cognitopia since 2015. In that time, she has been involved in customer support, training, marketing, documentation, social media, and data collection. Some of her favorite projects have been mentoring our videographer intern, Nate, and weekly classroom testing and curriculum development for the many students in the 4J Connections Transition program. She works closely with Eugene-based SLLEA (Smart Living, Learning & Earning with Autism) to integrate Cognitopia’s self-management tools into the organization and structure design input and support platform implementation. Professionally, Julie has over twenty years’ experience working in engineering, technology, software development, and journalism; a path made possible with two degrees in Technical Communication: a BS from the Milwaukee School of Engineering and a MS from Colorado State University. A single mom of three high schoolers (grades 9, 10, and 11), Julie has introduced Cognitopia to terms such as “sick” and “yeet,” while overseeing the office coffee consumption. In her free time, she enjoys playing recreational soccer, improv comedy, and traveling.