Category Archives: Assessments

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Using Schoodles School Fine Motor Assessment (SFMA) as Part of a Strengths-Based Assessment

What does a ‘strengths-based’ assessment mean to you? In the past, it may have simply
involved listing a student’s strengths and then moving on to their needs. However, a
strengths-based assessment can be a powerful tool for promoting self-confidence,
motivation, and independence. This type of assessment highlights areas for growth and
improvement, while simultaneously showcasing a student’s positive attributes. By utilizing
a strengths-based approach, parents, staff, and students can all view the student in a
different, more positive light.

Using a criterion-reference tool like Schoodles, you can more effectively locate areas where
a student excels, as well as areas that require further support. Unlike standardized tools,
Schoodles offers the flexibility to provide verbal prompts, visual demonstrations, task
grading, or other aids to help students complete challenging tasks.
Here are some strengths/needs we can observe during testing:

  • Good attention to task/ may need support to move from activity to activity
  • Demonstrates interest and curiosity about all of the materials/may need a limited amount of materials in front of him to work to his potential
  • Highly sociable/may need some social time before beginning hands-on tasks
  • Quick learner/excellent candidate for 6-10  week burst of service to improve skills
  • Easily understands and follows visual versus verbal directions/may benefit from visual supports to move through the day
  • Loves to use his hands/ may benefit from fidgets or may need to be presented with one task at a time and given extra time to explore hands-on activities.

To effectively support students, we must shift our attention from their limitations to their capabilities. It is a common misconception that a strengths-based focus disregards a student’s challenges. We can describe a student’s skills in neutral or positive terms, highlighting attributes that help them succeed. While we do not ignore struggles or weaknesses, we strive to reframe them in a constructive manner.

You could start by reviewing your previous documentation to initiate a shift toward strengths. Highlight all the positive statements in green, all neutral statements in yellow, and all negative statements in red. By doing this, you can aim to minimize negative statements and ultimately eliminate them altogether.

When writing reports, it’s important to provide a positive summary of your data while still including any challenges. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Place all test scores at the bottom of your report.
  • Use positive or neutral descriptive language only.
  • Focus on what the student CAN do.
  • Reframe subjective language into objective language.
  • Highlight areas of potential growth.

By using Schoodles‘ SFMA alone or in combination with other tools, you can gain valuable
information about student strengths in a relatively short amount of time. Focusing on
student strengths during information gathering, report writing, and sharing will help
facilitate a sense of student efficacy in the students, their parents, and staff.

Guest Blogger Marie Frank OTR/L, Schoodles Co-Owner

An Overview of the Cognitive Performance Test


The Cognitive Performance Test (CPT) “is a standardized cognitive-functional measure that identifies patterns of performance associated with long term memory stores” (Burns, 2018).  It is used to “explain and predict capacity to function in various contexts and guide intervention plans” (Burns, 2018).

Quck Facts

Age Range: Adult/Geriatric

Test Type: Standardized & performance-based

Administration Time: 45 minutes

Publication Year: Manual revision 2018

Author: Developed by author and researcher Theresa Burns, OTR

Administration Time: Individual

Scoring: Range from intact performance (level 6 or 5) to profound disability (level 2)


Each subtest repeatedly measures working memory and executive functions at progressively more complex levels. The specific task is less important than the way in which the client responds to gradually increasing task demands and task complexity. The seven subtests are:

Cognitive Performance Test
Cognitive Performance Test
Cognitive Performance Test
Cognitive Performance Test
  • Medbox
  • Phone
  • Travel
  • Shop
  • Wash
  • Toast
  • Dress


Each subtask is rated with a performance level score (e.g. 6.0;5.0; 4.5 etc.). Subtest scores are then averaged, providing a total score.  Scores are based on average performance over time.

Profiles & Performance Patterns

The CPT profiles identify corresponding issues of IADL concern.  A half-level profile system is used  (5.6;5.0;4.5;4.0;3.5;3.0;2.5;1)

Burns, Thereasa (2018). Cognitive Performance Test (CPT) Revised Manual 2018 Maddak.

Feifer Assessment of Writing

The Feifer Assessment of Writing (FAW) goes beyond standard handwriting measures to help practitioners truly understand the factors contributing to handwriting difficulty. The FAW allows practitioners to answer the “why”!   By understanding the factors contributing to handwriting difficulty, practitioners are better equipped to develop treatment plans that are efficient and that adequately address the underlying cause of difficulty.

What’s Measured?

The FAW is comprised of ten subtests (and two additional, optional, subtests) designed to identify and differentiate amongst the three subtypes of dysgraphia.  The subsets are: (*indicates subtest used in the Feifer Assessment of Writing Screening Form (FAW-SF))

  • Alphabet Tracing Fluency*
  • Motor Sequencing*
  • Copying Speed
  • Motor Planning
  • Executive Working Memory*
  • Isolated Spelling*
  • Retrieval Fluency
  • Sentence Scaffolding
  • Homophone Spelling
  • Expository Writing
  • Copy Editing (optional)
  • Story Mapping (optional)


PurposeA diagnostic achievement test used to examine the underlying processes that support written language skills in order to identify the presence of a written language disorder and to identify the specific subtype of dysgraphia.Identify children at risk for developmental dysgraphia Can be used as progress monitoring tool
Key Areas of FocusThree subtypes of written language disorder: Graphomotor dysgraphiaDyslexia dysgraphiaExecutive dysgraphiaK-1st grade: Graphomotor demands of the writing process  Grade 2 & above: Cognitive-linguistic demands of the writing process
Age RangePre-K- CollegeGrades kindergarten through college 
TimePre-Kindergarten: 15 minutesGrades K- 1: 20 minutes Grades 2+: 55-65 minutes K-1st grade:15-20 minuteGrades 2 and above: 20 minutes
Scores YieldedProvides an overall Total Index & three target index scoresGraphomotor IndexDyslexic IndexExecutive IndexProves a single index score that indicates the risk for dysgraphia or a written language learning disability and the need for further assessment.