Analysis of the Functions and the Challenges Faced by Educational Assessment Resource Centres in Five Selected Counties in Kenya
Ayabei, Emmy Jelagat
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Educational Assessment Resource Centers (EARC) are set to cater for persons with disabilities. EARCs have vast functions and thus there are a lot challenges facing the centres. Such include lack of qualified personnel who can conduct an assessment of all categories of disabilities, lack of valid assessments due to poor tools, lack of clear assessment procedures, weak policies and legislation as well as lack of parental consents. The purpose of the study was to analyze the functions and the challenges faced by educational assessment resource centres in five selected Counties in Kenya. The objectives of the study were to assess the identification of disabilities in the centers, identify tools and equipment used in disability assessment, evaluate the available placements in selected counties, examine the involvement of EARCs in identification and placements, and find out the challenges faced by EARCs. The study was guided by CIPP evaluation model which assisted in determining the worth and the value of EARCs. The researcher employed a descriptive survey research design approach. The study location was in 5 EARCs in the following counties; Kakamega, Baringo, Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, and Elgeyo Marakwet. Purposive sampling was used to select 5 EARCs in Kenya and 5 EARC coordinators. Convenient sampling was used in selecting 80 special needs education (SNE) teachers. The researcher gathered the information using questionnaires and observation schedules. The tools were administered on the pilot group and examination of the item relevance to variables and objectives were done by the researcher to determine the validity. Data was coded edited and organized through the statistical package for social science (SPSS) software and open-ended questions were analyzed using descriptive statistics by calculating in terms of frequencies and percentages. The finding showed that 60% of the EARCs often provided audio-visual aids to learners with special needs (M=2, SD=0.71). 40% of the EARCs rarely co-ordinated seminars that involved all the stakeholders in the field of special needs (M=2.8, SD=1.3). 80% of the sampled EARCs often coordinated evaluation and assessment in schools (M=2.2, SD=0.45). Forty percent of the EARCs often provided hearing aids to learners with hearing impairment and an equal number sometimes availed the aids to the learners (M=2.2, SD=0.84). 60% of the EARCs were sometimes involved in visiting schools to advise teachers on how to identify children with special needs and do an assessment (M=3.6, SD=0.55). The study established that EARCs had inadequate tools and equipment, there was low parental involvement in assessment, there were few special schools for placement of learners with special needs. Seminars were not conducted for the stakeholders and there were few EARCs. The following recommendations: training for more special needs teachers, ensure there is adequate multi-disciplinary team in the EARCs, seminars should be organized for the stakeholders. Governemnt to build more special schools in addition to enabling all inclusive educational environment and to provide adequate tools and equipment to the EARCs and finaly, parents/guardians should be involved in the assessment process.