Ch. 5: Assessment

The Steps to being social helps us identify the social skills needed to for life skills. The Steps Assessment lets us know where a person is on the steps and how to support the student.

The Assessment is divided into 4 skills sets.

1. Foundation

2. Lower 4

3. Middle 4

4. Upper 4

When scoring the components of Engagement it is scored with a yes or no. The lower, middle, and upper portions are a rating of 0-3.

0- Not observed

1- Skill is being acquired

2- Uses skill intermittently

3- Uses skill across settings

The first assessment assesses Engagement, because engagement is the first step to being social. It assesses the student with a skilled partner, which can be a family member or the evaluator.

The evaluator answer yes or no to specific questions regarding self-regulation, shared space, shared focus, and shared pleasure. If the answer is a NO these areas need to be worked on before moving forward. If yes, you can move to Lower 4.

The Lower 4 Assessment focuses on Proximity, parallel, joint attention, and reciprocal exchange. These items are with a skilled partner. They are scored from 0-3.

Middle 4 Assessment:

· Can be with a Skilled Partner or Trained Peer; 0-3 scoring

· Reciprocal Exchange: Back-and-forth interaction

· Give and Take of Conversation: Sending and receiving messages on the same topic

· Perspective Taking: Being aware that others have thoughts that are different from your own

· Reading the Social Scene: Noticing, attending to the relevant, and finding one’s place

Upper 4 Assessment:

· Trained Peer; 0-3 scoring

· Reading the Social Scene: Noticing, attending to the relevant, and finding one’s place

· Group Cooperation: Having brain and body in the group, staying on topic and participating, and becoming aware of the need to be flexible with ideas

· Friendship: Noticing that someone has similarities to you, accepting their differences, and finding reinforcing ways to be together

· Growing Connections: Maintaining a relationship over time, distance, changing circumstances, and varying levels of intimacy

The STEPS Assessment Summary

· A nice visual representative of how the student scored on all of the above with room to indicate the targeted skill set and objectives (page 75).

· Interpreting the Scores A reminder that social development is a dynamic process and to keep this is mind when scoring

· Data should drive the treatment approach, inform instruction, and keep facilitators accountable

The last page of this chapter, page 77, reviews the evidence-based practices for each step.

Questions for discussion:

Which step do you currently find most of your students with social skills weaknesses needing to work on? Where do you see the fastest vs slowest progress? Thoughts on the assessment sheets? Any other thoughts?

For me (Candra), I find that most of my students spend the most amount of time working on Middle 4 skill sets (sometimes targeted via speech-language therapy or sometimes targeted via educational goals via the ECE Teacher). Phoenix has a Social Communication Program and during the class period where they all meet in a resource room, I would say that the curriculum is focused on Middle 4 skills as well (most of the time, these are not students who require speech-language therapy as a related service). As for the assessment sheets, I like that they take up only a single page each and are a quick checklist.

-Liz Olson & Candra Grether

13 thoughts on “Ch. 5: Assessment

  1. Holly Hamill says:

    I’m a fan of the assessment sheets in this chapter. They are very clearly written so they are easy to use. The visuals are awesome for showing how the skills build on each other. The forms are super teacher friendly. I’m really glad that we chose this for our book study.

  2. Mary Gwen Walker says:

    The assessment sheets are great and very easy to use! I like how it breaks everything down and each one builds on the next. I have only used the lower 4 check list so far and really like how it breaks down joint attention and reciprocal exchange.

  3. Pam says:

    Yes, this was a good book to study. I also like the task analysis format. It lends itself to decisions about what to work on next and what to go back to.

  4. Bridget Reece says:

    I really like the assessment sheets. I have a high-school student and we are embedding group cooperation and growing connections skills in our therapy sessions. I used the assessment sheet to assess him myself and then I had him use the assessment sheet. Our scores were almost the same. He liked using the assessment sheet to identify his strengths and areas of growth in this format.

    • Morgan Colyer says:

      I love this idea with older students! I honestly probably wouldn’t had thought about using the assessment sheets for the student to complete on themselves. That is a great idea!

  5. Erin Norton says:

    I agree with what the others have said, that I’m a fan of the assessment. I like how it’s all laid out for you and very detailed about each level. I find myself focusing the most of the middle 4 and students tend to stay in that level for a long time before those upper 4 really start emerging.

  6. Chris Scally says:

    I also really like the assessment sheet format, but I also just like how the assessment items are presented so clearly as “skills.” Kelly and I were recently speaking to a group of MSD teachers in training. We noticed that even when the stated topic of discussion was, “all people desire social connection,” it was sooooo easy i to say, Student X doesn’t enjoy being in a group or doesn’t like playing with peers. By the end of the discussion, everyone was retraining themselves to say, “Student x doesn’t yet have the skills to enjoy being in a group,” etc. It just seems like such a helpful, productive way of talking about things.

    • I love your observation about how helpful this book and assessment items are in helping teachers/assistants to recognize when students don’t have the ‘skills’ to participate rather than the students simply not desiring to participate.

  7. Mary Kivett says:

    I like the assessment sheets. They are quick, clearly written, and simple to understand. I think its nice that students can use them to assess themselves as well.

    • Chris Scally says:

      I agree. More and more I have been trying to create checklists that I can use to keep data and then the student can use for self assessment or as a visual cuing strategy.

  8. Kelsey Brown says:

    I really like how easy to use the checklists are. I personally can think of some of my elementary school kids who struggle with social skills that could work on the Upper 4 skills. I have some in particular that do not cooperate well with others in group activities. They have a hard time accepting different opinions and feel the need to argue back with other students constantly. These kids in particular don’t seem to have any good friends really, which I know will affect them more as they reach the upper elementary grades and so on. This book has taught me some ways to help these students with these social skills so they won’t be alone or picked on by their peers.

  9. Candra Grether says:

    The assessment sheets are also a great visual for teachers! I spoke with one of my MSD teachers today about this book study and found that showing her the assessment forms was the easiest way to quickly explain the book. We were both able to easily point out strengths and weaknesses we observe in a particular student. We discussed me shifting my focus to target some of these lower skills for this student and I am really excited to see where this goes with them.

  10. Jennifer Johnston says:

    It’s been repeated multiple times each chapter, but I really appreciate how well this book breaks down each social step into its smaller components. These forms are an excellent way to track progression through the steps and identify when a sub-skill needs more attention before allowing a student to grow into the next stage.

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