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by Ed Hammer, Ph.D.

(with grateful acknowledgment to Heather Becker, Ph.D. and Sally Schur, Ph.D.)


Conducting an assessment and writing an effective evaluation report from the results are key components of the use of the Functional Skills Screening Inventory. The results of the assessment may be presented in six sections:

1. Description of a Functional Skills Screening Inventory assessment

2. Recommended assessment procedures

3. Guidelines for scoring the Functional Skills Screening Inventory

4. Outline of a quality report

5. A sample report

6. Sources of additional information on report writing


Description of a FSSI Assessment

First of all, it is important to understand what the FSSI is not. A FSSI assessment is not a norm-referenced test administered by a person in a standardized testing setting. Instead, the FSSI describes the individualís behavior based upon observer ratings in natural environments. A FSSI assessment does not yield an IQ, DQ, SQ, or any other quotient because the FSSI is not to be used to qualify a person for services (other instruments are designed to do this, to whatever degree their statistical base supports). The FSSI is an ipsalateral assessment meaning that the person serves as both subject and control, that is the person is compared to self over time. The strength of the measures using the FSSI is the repeated comparison of the individual to self over time. The FSSI is to be used to put "meat on the bones" of intervention planning (i.e.IEPs, ITPs, long term monitoring, case management, etc.). It tells you what to do to enrich the quality of life, to improve services, and monitors subtle change over time in very difficult populations (i.e. persons who are deaf-blind, persons with autism, persons with brain injury, persons with PDD, persons with deafness and other complex disorders, persons with moderate to severe cognitive delays, persons with blindness and other multiple problems, etc.). Thus the FSSI may be used as an "alternate assessment" or as a long term monitoring device that follows the individual over time. The observations focus on the functional skills needed to live and work independently in the community. The Functional Skills Screening Inventory is similar to a "contemporary assessment" as defined by Halpern, Lehman, Irvin and Heiry (1982). Contemporary assessment involves directly assessing the competency behaviors to be taught in instructional programs. Halpern, et al. identify three potential outcomes of such an assessment approach:

1. Provides useful data for program planning purposes

2. Facilitates the match between persons and settings so that the requirements and assets of both will be optimized

3. Encourages a positive attitude among service providers and recipients that emphasizes strengths and opportunities.

It is by design that the FSSI is based on an abilities model compared to other assessments that are based on a deficit model. The goal of assessment using a FSSI is to show what the person can do compared to other assessments that focus on showing what the person cannot do.

As with all assessments it is important to be aware of the possible limitations of the FSSI. These limitations include:

1. Because the FSSI is based on observer ratings, there is a subjectivity built into the assessment. One personís interpretation of a "4" (always does this behavior without prompting or reminding or assistance) may not correspond to another personís interpretation of "4" level performance (the observer may think "always" is never done by the person being observed). These differences in observers are enhanced by use of the Comments section on the FSSI. The Comments enrich and personalize the uniqueness of the observation. Use them a lot! Consider under what conditions the individual performs the behavior, any disabling conditions which preclude her performance, or adaptations that enable her to perform the behavior. Reflect these in the Comments section along with the rating.

2. The FSSI deals with real world functional behaviors so many of the items are complex and multifaceted. For example, the item "fastens clothes" really includes multiple, specific behaviors which must be integrated to perform the task successfully. In scoring, the observer must make judgments about how to weight each subcomponent of this complex behavior. This judgment, again, contributes to the subjectivity of scoring the FSSI. The observer is to rate the behaviors that are present (or the degree to which they are present) now, not in the past, not what could be done if the person were taught or what is wished that the person could do. Too often observers consider the FSSI a "test" meaning that a person passes or fails an item. The FSSI items observe key behaviors and the degree to which the person does those behaviors (i.e. what assistance is required, what degree of supervision is needed, what must be done in the environment in order for the person to participate in doing the behavior). A person cannot "fail" the FSSI. A person receives a profile on the FSSI that serves as baseline, as a guide to interventions, and as a way to monitor subtle changes. One hesitant father asked, "but what if someone just taught the test?" Do it! Life is not a game. Life is not a test score. Life is what a person does to be successful in living and working. These are functional skills a person needs in order to live in the community and to occupy their time in a productive manner. Use the FSSI profile to provide the experiences necessary to move toward independence. Celebrate the ambiguity. It may very well be that the individual being observed does the behavior for Aunt Molly but not for Aunt Dolly. That is real world. The important thing is to note the degree to which the person does the behavior, the environments where it is performed (or not performed), and what is needed to support that individual to use the behavior or skill in many settings. Again, use the Comments section to show the differences among observers and the uniqueness of the person being observed.

3. The FSSI assessment measures only current level of performance, not past or potential functioning level. While the FSSI scores suggest where training and/or adaptations are needed, the scores do not in any way define the extent or limits of the individualís future abilities. In particular, it should not be assumed that individualís who have not mastered many Priority I or Priority II items do not have the potential for independent living or productive work. Many factors must be considered when making this determination, including the individualís chronological age, physical or sensory limitations, and previous opportunities to acquire the skills. Those who have not received adequate education/training or who need special adaptations that have not been made available should be given ample opportunity to acquire these critical skills. Murdina Desmond, M.D. in her research of persons with Congenital Rubella Syndrome found that the central nervous system is delayed in maturation, not lacking in maturation. She surmised from her data that persons with Congenital Rubella Syndrome might have their best learning in their third decade of life because of the eventual maturation of the central nervous system. Such thinking is innovative and challenges assessment devices to keep the door open for growth, maturation, and development longer than was previously thought needed.

4. It is also important to recognize that many of the skills included in scales such as "Community Living" typically are more difficult and acquired at a later age than are many skills included in "Basic Skills and Concepts" and "Personal Care." Because the various FSSI scales represent different difficulty levels, examination of the Raw Score Sheet alone will often give a misleading picture of an individualís strengths and weaknesses. Valleys on the profile do not necessarily reflect skills deficits. Rather, these variations may be areas in which the individual may acquire skills with age or experience. Examining the Priority I, II, and III Score Sheets and the Priority Levels Summary Sheet often provides a more meaningful picture of the individualís functioning because the profiles are adjusted for the level of difficulty of items across the scales. In other words, look for peaks and valleys WITHIN EACH PRIORITY LEVEL when interpreting an individualís scores. Many have asked how the items on the FSSI were selected. They came from practitioners in the field. Teachers, house parents, vocational trainers, job coaches, and residential staff were asked to list behaviors that meant a person was successful in their program. These items were then sequenced by the authors in level of difficulty into the 343 items that comprise the Functional Skills Screening Inventory. The items have held over a period of two decades, so they seem to be appropriate for the populations being observed. Some have asked why items regarding human sexuality, sexually transmitted disease knowledge, use of computers or hand held devices, assistive or adaptive devices, or use of cell phones are not being included on the FSSI. New items may be included in the future, but this will be done based upon statistical procedures of item analysis that says with a level of confidence that this item is more important than that item to be included on the FSSI. The authors of the FSSI encourage research to be done outside the circle of authors. This is scholarship and is supported by those responsible for the FSSI. A prime example of the use of the FSSI in research may be found in:

Van Dijk, J., Carlin, R., and Hewitt, H (1991) Persons handicapped by Rubella: Victors and victims: a follow up study. Rotterdam: Swets and Zeitlinger Publishers. See

In this book Van Dijk and his colleagues present data that show that the FSSI results at 5 Ĺ years of age predict 40% of the variability of scores at 18 years of age in persons who are deaf-blind due to Congenital Rubella Syndrome. This is a powerful statistical statement that shows the stability of the FSSI over time as well as implying the predictive validity of the FSSI. What is even more impressive is that the time frame used (5 Ĺ years to 18 years) represents the span of greatest change in a human being in terms of physical, social, emotional, and mental changes.

5. The reference scale for scores on the FSSI is percentage not percentile. This is a very key issue in the Functional Skills Screening Inventory. Percentiles relate to the normal distribution curve and are avoided on the FSSI. Why? Because there are still those practitioners who want (Need? Demand?) a number that can be used to show how the individual relates to a normative sample (age equivalent, grade achievement, developmental level, adaptive behavior rank or some such number that holds "magical" potential for funding, allocation of time and effort, or shows deficits). Percentage scores obtained from the Score Sheets can be used as rough indicators of an individualís current level of functioning, compared to the criterion of the total number of points possible on each scale and at each priority level. However, because individuals can receive partial credit depending upon the independence and frequency with which they demonstrate various skills and behaviors, PERCENTAGE SCORES CANNOT BE INTERPRETED AS THE PERCENTAGE OF SKILLS CURRENTLY MASTERED. For example, a raw score of 100 on "Personal Care" indicates that an individual received 50% of the total number of points possible on that scale. It does not necessarily mean that he has mastered half of the Personal Care skills. He could have received the same score by getting partial credit (2 points) on all of the items. To compare the percentage score on one assessment of a person to another taken 6 months later on the same person would be an appropriate use of the FSSI. This allows for subtle changes to be noted when the same observer rates the individual repeatedly. To compare ratings from parents in the home on an individual to the job coach on the same individual would be an appropriate use of FSSI scores because it could show how the individual performs in various environments.

6. Studies of the FSSI conducted by the authors show that the seven "Functional Skills" scales are both reliable and valid. The "Problem Behaviors" scale appears to be less stable. Problem behaviors are those behaviors identified as keeping an individual from participating in community living and occupation of time in a productive manner. This is considered a pioneering effort to identify how behavior influences the use of functional skills. Barriers to using functional skills are listed in the Problem Behaviors scale. When these behaviors are rated, there emerges interesting and clinically helpful profiles of the priority levels that can assist in understanding how behavior may be a barrier to functional living and working. For example in a profile that shows Priority I (basic functional skills that everyone needs) is low and that Priority II (functional skills performed best under supervision) is moderately low to very low and Priority III (functional skills that are performed independently) is high or higher than the other two priorities, then that person seems to be struggling more with emotional stability than with reaction to environmental tasks. Logically it is not considered possible to have no basic behavioral control or to be able to be supervised without acting out when the individual can perform when allowed to be independent. This usually means that the individual does whatever they please when left alone (thus behavior is not a problem although participation may be hampered). This is a person who keeps others away with behavioral acting out and then keeps doing whatever they select (self-stimulation, isolation, selective reactions) that shows more about emotional stability than basic functional skills in getting along with others. Another profile found on Problem Behaviors is that of the individual who seems to have Priority I skills (i.e. basic use of rules and getting along) but has very low Priority II skills (that is requires supervision and seeks out dependence on another) while still having a high or higher level of Priority III skills (that is the ability to function independently but may not choose to do so in certain environs). This profile is often found in individuals who seek supervision and encourage dependence on their part in order to participate in living and working activities. This profile of the dependent person may serve as an option of how programs may address dependence and clinging behaviors that keep the individual from participating. Still another Problem Behavior profile that offers some insight into how behavior impedes use of functional skills may be found in assessments where Priority I skills are rated high, Priority II skills seem to be high while Priority III skills seem to be very low. This is the profile of a person who has the skills but does not use them unless they are demanded or required by another. This is often found among individuals who have learned helplessness and sit and wait to be prompted or to be required to participate. Such behaviors keep that individual in a dependency relationship and this may be the key to improved participation in the community when the individual is required to take responsibility, to assume self-direction, and to act on the environment to get what is wanted, needed, and liked. From a statistical perspective, the Problem Behaviors scale is less stable than the other scales of the FSSI. Part of this is due to the nature of the content. Feelings, emotions, and affect change throughout the day for everyone. What is important is to acknowledge that emotions impact on function in the workplace and in the community and to monitor whether behaviors are a problem or barrier. As with any score from the FSSI, the scores from Problem Behavior are not diagnostic. Additional information about maladaptive behavior should be considered when making decisions about placement or training for persons with disabilities.

7. Measurement error occurs in all assessment instruments. It is strongly recommended that FSSI results are compared with other sources of information. No one instrument can be used in isolation, a panel of measures gives many perspectives about the individual being assessed. It is also important to use ecological inventories that ask what the person being assessed likes and wants, what the family and care-givers hold as priorities, and what those who work with the individual being assessed feel are important interventions. In this way, assessment moves from a mechanical process to a relevant and systematic approach to helping develop interventions, support, resource allocations, and planning. Other information must include review of medical histories, family support systems, and community opportunities available to the person being assessed.

Recommended Assessment Procedures

1) Because the Functional Skills Screening Inventory is based on observational ratings, it must be completed by someone familiar with the student or client. It is strongly recommended that the person reporting about the individual interact with that person or observe him for at least two weeks before attempting to assess the individual on the FSSI. Even so, there may still be some areas of the personís functioning that you have not had an opportunity to observe. If possible try to structure opportunities for the person to demonstrate the skill in a natural environment. For example, if you are unsure about his counting skills you might ask him to give you change for a dollar. Remember that it is important to wait for the individualís spontaneous response before cuing or prompting to give the person time to show what he can do on his own. The FSSI offers several benefits when the situation is not clear, there has been a lack of opportunity or experience, or there is no certainty that the person does the particular functional skill being requested. In these instances, it is possible to score the item "0" and make a comment in the Comment Section "No Opportunity" or "Check this out in the program." A "0" score does not penalize the person it just means that this item has not be mastered at this time. Thus this item would show in any printout of suggestions for programming from the computer scoring of the FSSI. Remember, the FSSI is not like other assessment devices that penalizes a person for not doing a skill. With the FSSI, having a score of zero just means that the skill is not done. The Comment Section further enriches the observation with qualifying explanations or information.

2) However, in some cases it may be necessary to use an informant to provide additional information about the individualís skills. Information may be solicited from another person or persons who are familiar with the client, including parents, house parents, therapists, teachers, teaching assistants, or whenever possible with the person herself. In order to determine the most appropriate score for a particular FSSI item, probe the informant concerning the conditions under which the behavior occurs. Previous research with other skills inventories suggests that the most serious problem in using informants is the failure to establish with sufficient detail the factual basis for determining how to score each item (Doll, 1947). Therefore, ask the informant to describe the personís behavior in some detail so that you can determine the frequency, consistency, and degree of independence with which the individual characteristically exhibits the skill or behavior rather than simply asking the informant to make this judgment. Again, BECAUSE THE FSSI IS DESIGNED TO ASSESS CURRENT, NOT PAST OR POTENTIAL LEVEL OF FUNCTIONING, FOCUS ON WHAT THE INFORMANT ACTUALLY OBSERVED THE INDIVIDUAL DOING RECENTLY NOT ON WHAT SHE RECALLS THE CLIENT USED TO BE ABLE TO DO OR WHAT SHE THINKS THE CLIENT MIGHT BE CAPABLE OF DOING WITH ADDITIONAL TRAINING.

3. It is difficult for an observer not to interject her own biases into an assessment. In our zeal to give an individual as much credit as possible we may see things we want to see or we may be too restricting in our observations to pick up on home-signs or unique behaviors that signal what the person wants or can do. In an effort to control rater bias, the FSSI was designed to be used as an arena assessment. A group of individual raters may observe the client/student and fill out their copy of the FSSI. In a team meeting, the ratings can be discussed and a consensus rating made. It is also possible to have members of the team do parts of the FSSI that are related to their service involvement with the client. The Speech Pathologist may do the Communications scale while the Occupational Therapist may do the Work Skills and Concepts scale. The only rule here is that the same person needs to conduct the baseline and repeated measures. Having different raters can evoke the rater bias even more. It has been pointed out by users of the FSSI that the process of discussing how to score an individual is valuable as the score itself because it focuses attention on how consistently the client/student performs in different situations with different helpers.

2. It is also possible to use these differences in observer ratings the an advantage. Often times when there is a dispute over a studentís level of performance, it is possible to do a FSSI with the teacher and teaching assistant and do another FSSI with the parent or parents. By using the comparison of two FSSIs on the CD it is possible to show all those involved with the student how much they agree in regard to the FSSI results. It seems to help for parents to see how the child does in school settings and the teachers also benefit from seeing how the parents perceive the student in the home and family environments. Scoring the FSSI with parents and care givers is an excellent way to develop an alliance within the team. By discussing items, making comments, and talking about goals, the very process of scoring the FSSI brings about a sharing and a level of insight that might not have been experienced previously.

3. Because the goal is to prepare persons with disabilities to function as independently as possible in their communities, USE THE BEHAVIOR OF ADULTS WHO ARE NON-IMPAIRED WHO LIVE INDEPENDENTLY AND ARE COMPETITIVELY EMPLOYED AS YOUR CRITERION FOR DETERMINING HOW AN INDIVIDUAL WHOSE IMPAIRED PERFORMANCE SHOULD BE RATED? In other words, ask yourself if she performs the skills as well as you or another competent adult performs it and rate the client/student accordingly. You will be doing the person a disfavor if you rate the client/student too high. This will lead to unrealistic expectations of the client/studentís behavior from others - thus setting the person with disabilities up for failure.

4. Rate each item independently. Do not assume that the individualís performance on one item is necessarily indicative of her performance on other items. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and frequently they are erratic and difficult to predict.

5. Remember: THE FSSI IS DESIGNED TO ASSESS CURRENT, NOT PAST OR POTENTIAL LEVEL OF FUNCTIONING. For this reason, award points only for what you or someone who knows the client/student well has actually observed him doing recently. If the client/student does not demonstrate a skill or behavior because the person has never had an opportunity to do so, a score of "0" should be given for that item. This means that the skill needs to be learned, not that the person is incapable. If a person no longer exhibits a skill which was routine for that person before the onset of an impairment, it is important to note that fact and score according to current performance level. Use the Comment Section to show that it was lost due to impairment or accident or progressive loss. By pinpointing this issue, training, adaptation, or assistance can be targeted for programming to either recover the skill or to offer opportunities to learn the skill again. This accurate documentation gives a guide for programming.

6. Use special care when scoring persons with serious physical and/or sensory disabilities. If for instance a person with limited use of her hands cannot "grasp small objects with thumb and tip of forefinger" but has developed an adaptive substitute behavior such as using the forefinger and middle finger as pincers, give her partial credit on the item depending upon how effective her substitute is. On the other hand, if a person who is totally blind cannot "match objects by color" do not give her credit for the item because it is "not applicable." The important thing is to consider is that there is a critical behavior (matching by color) for which no adaptive substitute has been or can be developed. She should therefore be given a "0" on the item and a comment made about the reason for the low rating. Again, the FSSI is not a pass/fail test, it is an observational checklist to enrich understanding of the individual so that programming is relevant and assist the person to progress toward independent functions.

7. Writing in comments. The above discussion illustrates the importance of writing in descriptive comments when scoring items. These comments can describe adaptive substitute behaviors or impairments that preclude performance of the behavior. They can clarify the situational factors which affect performance and the scoring of items where credit is given for performance of either of two tasks (for example: "walk" rather than "propels wheel chair"). Brown (1985) has pointed out that it is necessary to know what part of the task a person has not mastered to determine where to focus training. In general the more comments you write, the more meaningful your FSSI assessment will be and the more useful to another reader.

8. Since the publication of the Functional Skills Screening Inventory (FSSI) in 1983 two potential sources of error have been noticed. First because there are so many items and priority levels, it is easy to make arithmetic errors when computing scores on the Print Edition of the FSSI. The computer scoring seems to handle this error very well with no computational errors. If using the Print Edition, be sure to double check computation. Secondly, the fact there is not a "not applicable" scoring option has generated confusion. Those few items which will never be applicable for me are marked with asterisks and the assessor is instructed to give the individual full credit if the item is not applicable. Some users have marked other items "not applicable." Unfortunately this results in the person receiving a score of "0" on the item since no other points have been assigned. This results in a lower score that does not reflect the current function of the person being assessed. The computer version requires each item be scored. On the Print Edition be sure to assign a score to each item, even if it is a zero. Use the comments section to clarify the zero rating if necessary but always score every item.

Outline of a Good Evaluation Report:

According to Sattler (1998) the objectives of an evaluation report are:

1) to answer a referral question

2) to convey a meaningful description of the examinee

3) to provide useful recommendations

A good evaluation report integrates information from various sources. In deciding what information to include think in terms of its relevancy to the audience. And remember that description without interpretation is only half the job.

1) Provide a background description of the individual . Include information about disabling conditions, basic demographics such as age, home, educational/training experiences, services received, level of family involvement, personality, and adjustment factors. On the computer version of the FSSI the report is encouraged to list "descriptors" instead of diagnoses so that there is a reference of the various problems that the person experiences. These descriptors may be accessed from the computer and used in report writing.

2) Indicate why this assessment has been conducted. Is it for programming purposes or for placement purposes that the assessment is being conducted? Is it a repeated measure to compare a previous assessment on the FSSI so that subtle change may be detected and documented? Is it in response to a request for evaluation from the program in which the individual is currently being served or is it in preparation for transition from one program to another? Is the individual perceived to have difficulty functioning in a particular setting or is it a routine assessment for agency documentation? This referral question is very important and needs to be clearly stated so that the results have relevant meaning.

3. Describe how the FSSI was administered. Indicate if scores were based on a single reporterís ratings or consensus of multiple reporters. Did the same reporter complete all sections of the FSSI or were different sections completed by different individuals? Were ratings based on the reporterís observations or information provided by someone more familiar with the individual (for example an informant). How long has the reporter and/or the assessor known the person and in what capacity?

4. Present the results of the FSSI assessment. Begin with the summary profiles. Point out the average Functional Skills Level at each priority level (percent of point corresponding to the raw score on the Functional Skills Subtotal). While we do not want to establish standard cut-off scores. Many of those using the FSSI have suggested that when their students/clients are functioning at an 80% level at a given priority level the believe a satisfactory functioning level has been reached at that priority level. The cut-off line is arbitrary and may be set at any level the reporter or assessor feels represents an appropriate standard for that particular client/student. Look at the Priority I scores and identify content areas of strength and needs. Do the same for Priority II and III. Based upon average functioning level, recommend at which Priority Level to begin training. Next look at the individual items to determine areas of consistent performance. Are there trends or patterns that may suggest a common deficit area underlying many skills? As the reporters and assessors gain experience in using the FSSI they will begin to recognize patterns of behaviors and become aware of interventions that might be recommended. The FSSI allows for a reporter to look at sequences of behavior and to select a place to start and goals to be attained through interventions.

5.Discuss the accuracy ( the reliability, the validity, the comfort level involved staff have with the process) of the scores. Comment on factors specific to this assessment that could affect validity such as limited educational opportunities, recent changes of location or placement, other events such as illnesses or new jobs that might affect functional behaviors and skills. Go back to Comments made during the assessment and report the uniqueness of the individual so that those using the report will know of adaptations, substitutions, or changes that help facilitate independent functioning. Write about the limits of the assessment as well as highlight new insights or hypotheses that came from the experience of completing the FSSI.

6. Clarify your level of confidence in your interpretation. Use examples to illustrate the factors on which your conclusions are based so that readers can make their own judgments about the validity of your interpretations. Be especially cautious in interpreting results from the Problem Behavior Scale. As mentioned previously, this is the least reliable FSSI subscale even though it contributes understanding of how the behavior of the individual being assessed contributes to the over all functioning of the person. Use a narrative format to discuss behaviors, review patterns of Priority Levels, and to explain the logic of your conclusions.

7. Discuss functional limitations and how these limitations restrict the individualís ability to function independently in his/her family or community. Clarify the relationship of disabling conditions to deficit areas identified on the FSSI. Suggest what supports/assistance may benefit the individual in terms of achieving independent living objectives. For example: A job coach could structure the task for the client/student who has limited ability to follow complex directions.

8.Incorporate related information from other assessments/reports or data sources of previous performance or new settings, experiences, or opportunities. If results of your assessment are inconsistent with other assessments/reports show how there are possible reasons for these inconsistencies such as change of setting, deteriorating physical condition, new job coach, etc. Movement away from giving the impression of having a corner on the market of truth has allowed recognition of the need for alternate assessments, ecological inventories, and/or contemporary assessments that put "meat on the bones" of interventions. The strength of the FSSI comes from its use as a repeated measure over time. This allows for many positive benefits to emerge. As one parent of a young man with a head injury said, "...for the first time since the accident I have some idea of what we need to do to help my son." This young man had been saved from a massive head trauma by expert medical treatment, had gone through exquisite rehabilitation to regain use of motor skills (he was walking and talking again), but suddenly was sent home and services were minimal. The parents wanted to know what to do over the long term and the FSSI offered the family (and young man) a road map to follow to integrate the person with traumatic brain injury back into the community.

9. Use your previous experience with students or clients and what you know about the program under consideration for the individual in making recommendations. One of the best kept secrets about the Functional Skills Screening Inventory is that there is a battery of assessments based on the FSSI. So far all that had been addressed in this document is the Functional Skills Screening Inventory (FSSI) Individual Edition. There is also an Environmental Edition as well as a Employment Edition. The Environmental Edition allows for various environs to be assessed and profiled. The same questions as found on the Individual Edition are used to find out the degree to which items are emphasized, trained, or offered to persons entering, residing, or enrolled in that environment. The Individual Edition profile may be compared to the Environmental Edition profile to show modifications that need to be made either by the person or by the program. Billions of dollars are spent each year in the United States to assess individuals with disabilities. More funds support IEP meetings, transition meetings, and staffings of persons with disabilities. Then the individual with disabilities is placed in the setting (classroom, work site, day care) that is available and would have been the recipient of the person with disabilities regardless of the findings of the IEP/ITP/staffing meeting. It seems time to explore what is available in a setting before a person is placed in that setting. What modifications are needed? What could the current program be teaching the individual with disabilities to prepare that person to benefit from placement in a new setting? Who changes: the program or the person? The FSSI Environmental Edition helps settle that question. Another FSSI edition is available to assist in transition and planning. This is the FSSI Employment Edition. The Employment Edition allows jobs to be profiled in regard to critical skills, behaviors, and/or experiences a person needs to be successful in that job. The FSSI Employment Edition uses the same 343 items as found on other forms of the FSSI but the question is phrased as to what functional skills are required to do a job. Again, the profile of the individual can be compared to the profile of the job and modifications, training, and monitoring planned to assure a match of person to job as well as define changes that will assure success. One school district used the FSSI Employment Edition to set up a Job Data Bank for the school district. They started with local school campuses and asked janitors, maintenance staff, administrators, teachers, and transportation staff to define work tasks that they had a difficult time finding someone to do. For example, it was important to have someone walk the halls when classes are in session to pick up paper, trash, books, or other materials left in the hallways. The janitorial staff felt this took away from their more pressing and important work, the administration felt that the school needed to look clean and neat and could walk the halls but not in a consistent manner, and the teaching staff felt that the hallways were not kept up. The Employment Edition of the FSSI profiled what skills were needed to complete this job and students who had a profile that fit the profile the job required could do this as part of work awareness training. The question asked to school personnel was "What tasks in your work do you find it difficult to get done that could be done by trainees either in a job share to as a work training experience?" The responses were then profiled using the FSSI Employment Edition and matches made with individual profiles so that routine, real work was found within the school campus that had previously been a problem. Thus other editions of the FSSI allow the individualís needs to program capabilities or job requirements to be related to the extent possible. For example: If you have been asked to assess a client/student for entry into a specific residential program, you might indicate if the program provides a sufficient level of supervision for this clientís needs.

10. Consider presenting an executive summary at the beginning of the report that highlights major findings and recommendations. This use of a summary page will focus the readerís attention on what you consider to be the most important points of your report and is particularly helpful to busy administrators.

11. Include a copy of the two-page description of the Functional Skills Screening Inventory included in this document. You may print of those pages and reproduce them on your own copy machine or have your printer provide you with copies. This gives the readers of the report a written reference about the FSSI and helps them interpret the FSSI scores on their own. It is also possible to provide the web site to others so that they can review FSSI information on the internet at:

12.Finally, remember that how the report is written is an important as what is in it. Avoid technical jargon that may confuse the reader. Make the report concise and as readable as possible. Provide space that directs the read to important information. Keep the report as short as possible.


1. Becker, H., Schur, S., and Hammer, E (1986) The Functional Skills Screening Inventory Userís Guide. Austin: Functional Resources.

2. Brown, F. (1985) Meaningful assessment of persons with severe and profound handicaps. Paper presented at the 12th Annual Conference of The Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps. Boston.

3. Doll. E. (1947) Vineland Social Maturity Scale. Minneapolis: American Guidance Service.

4. Halpern, A, Lehman, J., Irvin,L., and Heiry, T. (1983) Contemporary Assessment for Mentally Retarded Adolescents and Adults. Baltimore: University Park Press.

5. Sattler, J.M. (1998) Assessment of Childrenís Intelligence. Philadelphia: W.B.Saunders.

6. Van Dijk, J., Persons Handicapped by Rubella: Victors and Victims - A follow up study

(1991). Amsterdam/Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger.

7.Desmond,M.M.,Wilson,G.,Vorderman,A.,Murphy,M.,Thurbu,S.,Fisher,E.,&Kronik,E. (1985) The health and educationla status of adolescents with congenital rubella syndrome. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology. 27, 721-729.

Additional References on Writing Reports:

1. Hammond, K.R. and Allen, J.M. (1953) Writing clinical reports. New York: Prentice-Hall.

2. Hartlage,L.C. and Merck, K.H.(1971) Increasing the relevance of psychological reports. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 27, 459-460.

3. Huber, J.T.(1961) Report writing in psychology and psychiatry. New York: Harper.

4. Klopher, W.G. (1959) The psychological report as a problem in interdisciplinary communication. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disorders. 129, 86-88.

5. Martin, W.T.(1972) Writing psychological reports. Springfield: Charles G. Thomas.

6. Rucker, C.N.(1967) Report writing in school psychology: A critical investigation. Journal of School Psychology. 5, 101-108.






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