Chapter 31: The IAC approach to assessment: A family consultation model of child assessment

AUTHOR: Z. Amod

ABSTRACT: Innovative assessment procedures which take into account contextual factors such as language, culture, education, socio-economic status and recent educational policy developments are needed in South Africa.  In the democratic South Africa, both Education White Paper 6 (2001) and Curriculum 2005 call for assessment practices that are less expert-driven, non-deficit focused and linked to curriculum support.  The Initial Assessment Consultation (IAC) approach, which is the focus of this chapter, encompasses and addresses such aims.  This shared problem-solving approach to child assessment has at its core a focus on collaboration with parents and caregivers as well as significant others such as teachers, with the purpose of facilitating learning and the empowerment of clients.  The approach is based on a sound philosophical and theoretical foundation and is a radical departure from the belief that assessment and intervention are discrete clinical procedures.  The IAC approach to child assessment, which represents a paradigm shift in assessment practice, was initially developed by Adelman and Taylor (1979) at the Fernald Institute at the University of California to address prevailing criticisms of conventional assessment procedures.  Over the last two decades the IAC family participation and consultation model of assessment has been adapted and implemented at the University of the Witwatersrand.  Research has supported the usefulness of this holistic and egalitarian form of assessment which mirrors the more democratic environment of post-apartheid South Africa with its strong endorsement of human rights, sensitive cross-cultural differences and its changing educational policies on assessment practice (Amod, 2003; Amod, Skuy, Sonderup and Fridjhon, 2000; Dangor, 1983; Manala, 2001; Skuy, Westaway and Hickson, 1989; Sonderup, 1998).  The post-modernistic IAC model of assessment which emphasizes interpersonal, intrapersonal and environmental transactional factors in assessment has also been perceived positively by post-graduate students who have been trained in this approach at the University of the Witwatersrand (Dangor, 1983; Warburton, 2008).

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