How to Do a Learning Needs Assessment

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Education is not a one-size-fits all proposition. It is quite often necessary to make changes to the traditional education methods employed by most teachers to accommodate the individual needs of a struggling student. Educators can perform a learning needs assessment to ascertain the unique needs of the student and create a plan for helping that student succeed academically.

Establish a learning needs committee. This committee should be made up of a combination of teachers and administrators. This committee will meet every one to two weeks and discuss students who seem to be struggling and could benefit from remedial instruction.

Identify students in need of academic assistance. Ask classroom teachers to refer students who seem to struggle in their classes. Ask teachers to provide a detailed account of the students' weaknesses as well as any accommodations or interventions already tried. You can create a form for teachers to use to facilitate the referring of student, or you can simply ask them to refer via email.

Ask the student to complete a questionnaire. Before the needs assessment team selects programs or procedures to help the struggling student, it helps to ask the student his opinions about learning. Create a questionnaire that asks the student to reflect upon his education, and list any areas in which he feels he struggles.

Interview the student. Ask the student what he finds difficult. It is possible that the student has engaged in metacognitive practices and has already considered why he is doing poorly. Asking for his input could be valuable in the decision-making process.

Gather teachers to identify areas of student weakness. Consult all of the student's teachers and discuss areas in which the student exhibits weakness. Try to isolate two or three distinct areas of trouble around which you can focus your study.

Collect data. Determine the severity of your student's struggles by collecting data regarding the areas of concern. If the group felt that the student had particular problems with homework completion, have all of the student's teachers monitor his homework turn-in for a set period of time and record numerical data regarding his homework turn-in rate.

Tabulate the results of the data collection. Gather the data from all teachers and calculate the student's overall percentages. If the student is under 60 percent in desirable areas, such as percentage of homework turn-in, or over 60 percent in undesirable areas, such as speaks without permission, the student likely needs accommodations in connection to that area of his education.

Select two to four interventions to try. If the data indicates the presence of a problem, set up interventions that will ensure that all of the student's learning needs are met and can assist the student in performing academically.

Try the accommodations. Inform all teachers of the selected accommodations and ask them all to implement them within their classrooms.

Monitor the student's grades. If his academic performance does not improve, consider modifying the selected interventions or abandoning them for a different course of action.

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.