My Favorite School-Based OT Assessments

While there are a lot of standardized assessments to choose from in school-based occupational therapy, not all of them are created equally. Navigating the landscape of school-based occupational therapy assessment means having the right tools at your disposal to accurately assess and address the diverse needs of students. From honing fine motor skills to navigating sensory processing challenges, the assessments you choose can light the way to meaningful support and intervention. Here are my favorite school-based OT assessments, tailored to the educational environment with info on their focuses, benefits, and other considerations.

School Function Assessment (SFA)

Focus: A comprehensive caregiver checklist of occupations in the school environment 

Year Released: 1998  

Age Range: K – 6th grade  

Scores: Criterion-referenced ratings  

Completion Time: 45 – 90 minutes  

Link to More Info

The SFA specializes in evaluating how students perform in non-academic activities within the school setting, like class participation and mobility. It’s a crucial tool for understanding how a child’s disabilities may affect their school day. I love the SFA and feel like it gives very valuable information on real school skills that are often overlooked. You’ll find it particularly useful for its role in collaborative planning and IEP goal development. It’s also a great one to pick to show a student’s progress over time, compared to themself instead of a set of standardized scores based on typically developing children. 

I love this assessment but I do have some beefs with it. One, it’s long, and can take a while for teachers or other respondents to fill out. Two, I wish it went past 6th grade! And three, it’s somewhat outdated. But questions about floppy discs aside, this is one of my favorite overall assessment tools. 

Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, Second Edition (BOT-2)

Focus: A variety of fine and gross motor skills  

Year Released: 2005  

Age Range: 4:0 – 21:11  

Scores: Age-based standard scores, percentile ranks, age equivalents, and descriptive categories  

Completion Time: 30 – 60 minutes

Link to More Info

When you’re looking to assess both fine and gross motor skills comprehensively, the BOT-2 is an exceptional choice. Its adaptability across a wide age range makes it a versatile tool in your assessment arsenal, ideal for the varied demands of a school setting. This test excels in offering detailed insights that can guide your intervention strategies. If you need a standardized motor assessment for a wide variety of ages, this is a great option to consider.

However, it’s important to consider that its thorough nature requires a significant time commitment and a variety of materials for administration, which might pose challenges in a bustling school environment. Students do also need to have pretty good ability to follow directions in order to successfully participate in this assessment. If completing all eight subtests, it might be best to break this assessment up into multiple sessions for students with shorter attention spans. 

favorite school-based OT assessments

The Roll Evaluation of Activities of Life (REAL)

Focus: A comprehensive caregiver checklist of ADLs and IADLs 

Year Released: 2013

Age Range: 2:0 – 18:11  

Scores: Standard scores and percentile ranks

Completion Time: 15 – 30 minutes (for respondent filling out assessment)  

Link to More Info

Love this assessment! This one is great for students who might not be able to effectively participate in standardized testing themselves. While not all of the ADLs and IADLs listed in this assessment may be relevant to your student’s school day, this is a good option if you want to leave no stone unturned. I find this can be especially helpful with transition-aged students when the team is trying to decide what living & vocational arrangements might be appropriate after high school. Its flexibility across settings and age ranges is a significant plus. 

However, I’ve found this assessment less helpful for preschool-aged students, even though you technically can administer this for a student as young as 2. This is simply because these students are not yet participating in many common ADLs/IADLs, so the information you glean is less than an older student. 

Sensory Processing Measure, Second Edition (SPM-2)

Focus: A comprehensive caregiver checklist of sensory processing in the home and school environment

Year Released: 2021  

Age Range: 4 months to 87 years 

Scores: Standard scores and raw scores, standard scores (T-scores), percentile scores, DIF scores

Completion Time: 20 – 40 minutes (for respondent filling out assessment)

Link to More Info

For identifying sensory processing challenges that might be hindering a child’s school performance, the SPM-2 is invaluable. Its comprehensive approach across raters from multiple environments helps you devise strategies that are consistent and effective throughout a child’s day. I love how new this assessment is, both from an updated norms standpoint and in consideration to modern technology. Its online administration and scoring make this the easiest checklist I’ve ever utilized. 

Just keep in mind that whenever you’re assessing sensory processing, you always need to pair a caregiver checklist like this with lots of observation of the student in their natural environment to appropriately assess function.

Test of Visual-Perceptual Skills, Fourth Edition (TVPS-4)

Focus: A comprehensive visual-perceptual skills measure

Year Released: 2017  

Age Range: 5 – 21 years  

Scores: Scaled scores, percentile ranks, and age equivalents for each subtest and for overall performance 

Completion Time: 30 – 90 minutes 

Link to More Info

This is my favorite test if you need to take a hard look at visual-perceptual skills, especially broken down into different categories like figure-ground and form constancy. The TVPS-4 is also a go-to for assessing visual-perceptual skills without motor output, ideal for students with physical disabilities. It’s especially good at pinpointing areas of difficulty, informing your interventions in critical areas like writing, reading, and math. 

If you give all the subtests, this one can take a while, it does have a ceiling that doesn’t require you to present all the items if your student is no longer giving correct responses. And keep in mind that if you administer this one, you’ll likely want to do something else to look at motor skills specifically. 

Miller Function & Participation Scales (M-FUN)

Focus: Motor skills, visual-perception, and participation with school-related tasks  

Year Released: 2006  

Age Range: 2:0 – 7:11  

Scores: Standard scores, percentile ranks, age equivalents, and progress scores  

Completion Time: 20 – 60 minutes

Link to More Info

With a unique focus on integrating assessments of motor skills with participation, M-FUN stands out for its inclusivity and relevance. This is a good one if you’re looking for something more hands-on that still provides a standard score. I like this one for preschool-aged students especially, but it can be used with slightly older students as well. Another nice thing about this assessment is that it tackles writing, drawing, tracing, and cutting all in one place. It provides invaluable insights into how motor abilities impact a child’s engagement with their environment and tasks. I also enjoy the observational checklists that go along with this assessment – there’s one for teachers, family, and the evaluating therapist. 

However, its small age range means you might need to look for alternative assessments for older students. This one also can be impacted by attention span, so be sure to plan to administer this over multiple sessions, especially if you’re working with preschoolers. 

favorite school-based OT assessments

A Note on Comprehensive, Holistic, Occupation-Based SBOT Evaluations

While standardized tests like those listed above can be helpful, a school-based OT evaluation shouldn’t just be a basic write-up of them. Truthfully, most anyone can learn to administer and score one of these. It’s your interpretation that is valuable.

Yes, a student may score low on the BOT-2, but how does that impact their ability to put papers in a folder? Open a pencil box? Collect materials? Zip their jacket at the end of the day? Sit in a chair? Navigate the school campus? Use playground equipment? Those school observations are so key to connecting standardized test scores to your student’s actual function and educational access.

School-based OT evals should be holistic and cover all areas of function we might address. Yes, that student may be referred to you because of concerns with fine motor skills, but this is often only the tip of the iceberg.

Look into other areas that could impact school function and make sure your teams are checking more than just “motor skills” when they get consent for your assessment. Your student may be typical in other areas, but this gives you a much fuller picture of the student and allows you to report on strengths as well.

Want more support with your school-based OT assessments? You’ll want to check out The Assessment Bundle. It includes sample evaluation templates at the preschool, elementary, middle, and high school + levels, tables to use for standardized assessments, common accommodations and modifications, and tools for your screening process like pre-referral strategies and request forms. Click here to download it now!

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