Shapiro, E. S. (2011) pointed out that, in assessing the students, the teacher requires combining, intelligence and adaptive behavior that causes them fall behind in their school achievement. This cannot be caused by a sensory impairment, a specific learning disability or a behavioral disorder and the onset must be prior to being school aged. For those with milder cognitive impairment, this would look like a broad form of a learning disability that is not specific to any one area. Those with specific learning disabilities and many with autism will have performance valleys and spikes, where they may be proficient in one area while being very weak in another. Cognitive impairment cuts across all learning, which is intelligence and adaptive behavior together, are important.
Shapiro, E. S. (2011) asked a question on how one would assess a student with a cognitive disability fairly and accurately. The answer to that is that it will take more than one tool to do it and over some span of time. It will not be easy or cheap. First, you can use standardized intelligence tests provided they do not floor out. You can also use adaptive behavior assessments and questionnaires. The questionnaires should be given to parents as well as teachers. Next, do some real-time observations of the student in the actual environment. Then look at actual work products and compare them with same-aged peers. All of these last measures should be done in several settings and across time in order to assess the rate of progress. Assessment should always inform instruction, but in practice most of what passes as “accountability” and “performance” nowadays does not (Shaw, 2008). Shapiro, E. S. (2011) added that, eligibility for special education services requires two findings: first, the student must meet the criteria for at least one of the thirteen disabilities recognized in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or the counterparts thereof in state law, 1, 2. Second, special education and/or related services must be required for the student to receive an appropriate education 2, 3. It is true that some students are eligible for