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BASAT: An assessment tool for early literacy assessment and intervention for Zambian Teachers

The provision of assessment tools that are suitable for the Zambian situation, and, which are in line with the countrys special education needs and practices, has become of great importance in recent times. This is especially so with the introduction of inclusive education. Inclusive education demands that a pupils special educational needs are decided by the education the child needs. To fulfil this aim, tools are required that will help in the early identification and diagnosis of a childs learning needs. These tools will suggest the appropriate intervention that is needed in the ordinary classroom.

Classroom teachers are seen as leaders in this task of early identification and diagnosis. Teachers possess a great deal of information about the functioning of their pupils. Therefore a tool that can help assess the various basic learning skills related to language and literacy development is considered to be of vital importance. Such a tool should be short and straightforward rather than long and complicated. The aim is to find out a pupils difficulties and achievements in language-related skills so that learning needs can be identified.

The BASAT is one such tool. BASAT stands for Basic Skills Assessment Tool. This tool is meant to identify school children with language/literacy difficulties who need special help from the teacher.

The Ministry of Education expresses its special thanks to the consultants Ms. Ritva Ketonen (International Consultant) from Niilo Mki Institute, Finland and Mr. Kelly Mulenga (Educational Psychologist/Zambian Consultant: from the University of Zambia for developing the instrument.

1. What is the BASAT?

The BASAT is a reading and writing assessment tool that has been developed primarily to evaluate reading and writing skills in Grade one and two children in Zambia. The aim is to assess those basic skills that underlie reading and writing competence in the early stages of school. This assessment, it is hoped, will come up with a comprehensive picture of the childs current functioning in reading and writing.

2. Areas assessed by the BASAT

The BASAT assesses seven areas of reading and writing skills. These components are based on the current theory of reading and writing and include: 1. Letter knowledge skills 2. Letter-sound knowledge 3. Phonological tasks 4. Reading 5. Writing 6. Digit span 7. Reading comprehension

Other areas include; 1. Childs personal information 2. Language and behavioural skills 3. Summary of the BASAT 4. Additional information