Boehm Test-R in practice

Recently during my practicum experience, I gave the Boehm Test-R to a child who was enrolled in an inclusion preschool classroom. This child is four years old and is an English Language Learner (ELL; formerly known as ESL). The purpose of this assessment tool, as mentioned in a previous blog of mine which gave an overview of the Boehm Test-R, is " assess language comprehension. The child must interpret the structure and form of the syntax in the verbal statement given to them and identify the pictured item correctly."

For the child I had selected, I predicted that there might be some difficulty in interpreting the verbal statement given, which in turn would affect what picture item was selected. The picture items in the Boehm Test-R range from least difficult to most difficult. The child had little difficulty identifying the pictured item correctly for the first several pages, but as the structure and syntax of the verbal statements given concerning different concepts such as relationship, space, time, etc. became harder to interpret, the more mistakes were made.

Example 1: Picture Item description - (low level of difficulty)
Four children in a line waiting for a turn at the computer. Select the
child that is first in line.
Response: The child selected the correct picture item, marking the first child in line with an "X".

Example 2: Picture Item description - (higher level of difficulty)
There are four cups and a table (cups are located next to, under, on the
corner of the tabletop, and in the center of the table). Select the cup that
is on the corner of the table.
Response: A minute or two passed before the child selected the cup located next to the table and while marking the picture item, sought my approval of the picture item chosen.

There were several times where a break was needed because I could see that the child was becoming more and more frustrated; not because she realized she was making a mistake, but because the statements were becoming too difficult to understand. I noticed that as the pictured items and statements given became harder for the child to grasp, approval was looked for as each of the more difficult items were now tentatively selected.

The apparent frustration of the child along with the inability to interpret and understand some of the more complex statements and verbal concepts presented towards the end of the test gave me reason enough to end the assessment, though it was not fully completed. Because the "BTBC-R is a screening and teaching instrument and is not intended as a measure of mental ability," the results of the assessment tool can be used by the classroom teacher to further support instruction of language comprehension and verbal concepts the child needs to master as an ELL student.

Boehm, A.E., Ph.d. (2001). Boehm-3 Preschool. San Antonio, TX: Pearson


A brief overview of the Boehm Test of Basic Concepts-R

A chapter written by Jerome M. Sattler in his book, "Assessment of Children," discusses the Boehm Test of Basic Concepts -R in particular. This test is a "pictorial multiple-choice test designed to measure knowledge of various concepts (such as direction, amount, and time) that are thought to be necessary for achievement in the first few years of school." There is also an extension of the Boehm-R, known as Boehm-Preschool, which is used for ages 3 through 5.11.

The original test contained about 50 pictures arranged by order of difficulty, from least to most difficult. For each picture item, the child selects one picture from a set of three, based on a statement read by the examiner. The items cover concepts of relative relationships, such as space (next to, farthest), quantity (few, most), and time (always, after). For example, one item from the Boehm Test is " Look at the trees; mark the tree on the left." The revised test includes new picture items, the removal or rearranging of others, and the modification of some artwork.

The raw scores of this test are converted to percentile ranks. The norms are provided by grade level, SES level, and beginning and end of the school year. Tables also show the percentage of children passing each picture item using the same given levels.

In this assessment tool, language comprehension seems to be a key factor. The child must interpret the structure and form of the syntax in the verbal statement given to them and identify the pictured item correctly. After the test was given in the 1971, it showed those who modified the test that the revised edition of the Boehm Test "measures the acquisition of verbal concepts rather than acquisition of specific dimensions such as space, quantity, or time."

The newest edition of the Boehm Preschool assessment, the Boehm-3 Preschool, helps you measure 50 basic concepts most frequently occurring in current kindergarten, first, and second grade curriculum. It can be group-administered in a classroom setting. It helps to effectively identify concepts children already know and those they need to learn to be successful in school. It includes directions for administration in English and Spanish. Two parallel forms, E and F, enable you to conduct pre and post testing to help determine if the student's comprehension of the concept is consistent across multiple contexts. The results can be used to demonstrate progress as a result of teaching or intervention. The assessment tool may be used as part of a battery of tests for assessing students' understanding of basic relational concepts. It also helps to identify students who may be "at risk" for learning difficulty and who may need a referral for additional testing, as well as including tools to aid you in complying with the IDEA guidelines (Boehm 2001).

The BTBC-R is a screening and teaching instrument and is not intended as a measure of mental ability.

Sources I used in addition to discussions from my assessment and curriculum oriented courses:

Sattler, J.M. (1988). Assessment of Children. San Diego: Jerome M. Sattler.

Boehm, A.E., Ph.d. (2001). Boehm-3 Preschool. San Antonio, TX: Pearson

Portfolios support child-centered learning

Portfolio-based assessment can and should focus everyone's attention (the student's, teachers', and family members') on the importance of learning. The idea of using a portfolio supports the child-centered approach to curriculum and instruction. It helps a teacher to understand children's development and to plan learning activities more effectively. The use of a portfolio can also become a tool to help involve family members in the learning process. Involvement of the family in the student's learning is really valuable because the portfolio can be used as a reference point for them to create real-life connections that enhance the student's learning outside of school and in the home as well. Most of all, "portfolio-based assessment should serve as a reflection of the child's development, as a foundation and context for learning, and as records of the individual child's learning experiences and accomplishments" (Burke 1999).

Portfolios help to provide a structure for encounters with children and their families. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the kinds of information that are, "essential for planning appropriate learning experiences for young children include: the knowledge of individual children, knowledge of child development and knowledge of diversity." By using observations, getting to know and understand their students as individuals, assessing and evaluating them, and involving the students' families in the learning process, teachers can build the individual student's portfolio and better support child-centered learning in their classroom (Seitz 2008).

Portfolio-based assessment can be used as a way to further instruct children as well as a way to assess them. Using a portfolio certainly does not take the place of using standardized testing, but it helps to reveal new information about students that standardized testing cannot do with simply assessing what they may or may not know, their ability to take a test, or how they compare to other students in the classroom, around their state, or throughout the nation.

Sources I used in addition to discussions from my assessment and curriculum oriented courses:

Seitz, H. (March 2008).The Power of Documentation in the Early Childhood Classroom.
Young Children. 88-93.

Burke, K. (1999). The Mindful School: The Portfolio Connection. Arlington Heights, IL: Skylight Training and Publishing Inc.


Assessment... what is it?

The Wortham text defines assessment in regards to early-childhood education as “the process of gathering information about children from several forms of evidence, then organizing and interpreting that information.” Assessment for the pre-school years is different from the assessment of other children and adults. Because of that, the different instruments used for assessing young children must be equivalent to the “level of mental, social, and physical development at each stage”.

The main purpose of assessing young children is to document and check whether all areas of development are progressing normally. Assessment instruments can also be used to learn about individual children, assess their development in a particular area, what they may have learned or achieved, to identify and help correct developmental problems, to plan specific programs, to diagnose medical problems, for placement in special programs or to provide special services, as well as for research. The National Early Childhood Assessment Resource Group specified all of these purposes for the appropriate uses of assessment in the early childhood years.

Because early childhood education teachers must be prepared to measure or evaluate their students, they need to be aware of and have a good understanding of the strategies, tests, and other types of assessments designed for young children. In becoming more knowledgeable of the different developmental stages and capabilities, as well as assessments such as standardized tests, observation, checklists, rating scales, portfolios, and other methods of reporting a child’s performance, teachers will be better able to determine when and how their students should be assessed and how to help them after the results have been interpreted.

Sources I used in addition to discussions from my assessment and curriculum oriented courses:

Wortham, S.C. (2008). Assessment in Early Childhood Education.
Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.