School based SLPs have to assess a LOT of different disorders across a large span of ages. During the course of my career, I have assessed students at the preschool level all the way to high school. Feeling confident with speech assessments in so many speech and language areas is overwhelming. Have you also noticed the increasing demands to add more assessments to your reports, so that they are legally defensible? That makes doing them extra scary. Because, one, I fear that I won’t have enough time. Secondly, I want to make sure I have covered all the areas of concern. Which takes more time. That I don’t always have. Today, I want to share about how SLPs can feel more confident when conducting social language assessments. I know they can feel scary, and time consuming. Knowing how to map out what you need can make doing them less intimidating.
Social Language Assessments May Not Be Your Strength
Let me just clarify this for anyone looking for time hacks and ways to make these assessment go quicker: social language assessments take a lot of time. End of story. The best practices I am going to share today are going to feel like more work. I know you are probably thinking, “Girl, I don’t have time for all this extra stuff.” And guess what, I know you don’t have time. Especially if your workload is out of control.
So, if you are not comfortable with social language assessments, and this info feels like a lot, just take it one step at a time. There are still areas in the field of social language assessment that I would love to feel more confident about, like apraxia assessments for example. I have never really had a student with suspected apraxia, so I would be looking to all you SLPs for help in this area. Even though I have gained an understanding for the framework for social language assessments, it still feels overwhelming at times.
Tips For Defeating Overwhelm When Doing Social Language Assessments
Start planning out and doing your social language assessment early. Do not wait until the week before the IEP to start these assessments. Your stress will skyrocket and you will be scrambling for information that you need. Additionally, the chances that you forget valuable information will increase too.
Pencil in when you are going to do different parts of the assessment in your calendar. If you have a 15 minute chunk of time, pencil in that you are going to observe that student in class. Or review the case history and/or call the parent for concerns they see at home. If it isn’t on your schedule, you will find something else to do.
Ask for help. I rely on my SLP colleagues and the student’s teacher to help guide my assessment tools. When I have completely a large bulk of the assessment, I will consult with other SLPs about eligibility, goals and how to word observations in my report. Along with the assessment results, the student’s teachers and parents help me determine what goals would help impact the student the most in the classroom setting. With social language, there are so many skills to assess and work on. When there are too many to choose from, I struggle with nailing down what is impacting the student the most. That’s why I rely on my team’s expertise to help me feel confident with my assessment conclusions.
Tips For Feeling Confident With Your Assessment Findings
Get familiar with understanding characteristics of social pragmatic deficits and characteristics of students with a diagnosis of Autism. This will help you when describing the specific deficits as well as the skills the student has.
Know what is typical. When you have a “moment,” go into a general education classroom for the different ages and see what is typical for the developmental age group. Hang out at recess and lunch and see what typically developing students do with each other. This will help you know what to look for when assessing. If you don’t have that time, at lunch, sit in the staff room and ask your teachers to share what is typical for their students.
Use your Student Study Team (SST) or gen ed RTI process to streamline these social language assessment referrals. I typically will attend all language-concern SST meetings. At those meetings, I will try to collect as much background information from the teacher and parent as possible. This is when I will have them fill out a background questionnaire, so I have it from day one. If you need more tips about my referral process, check out my blog post HERE.
What To Look For In Interviews With Parents & Teachers
In your background section, you want to include information about the child’s developmental milestones. You also want to include previous assessments conducted as well as any other pertinent information relevant to the child’s background. If you want more tips on what should be included in this section of your assessment, check out this blog post. Here are a few things to ask and look out for during these interviews:
-Reports of language regression after normal language onset. This is unique to Autism and not found among children with other developmental delays (Lord, Shulman, et. al. 2004).
-Listen for report with concerns with the child’s early developmental milestones.
-Listen for the child having strong interests and enjoying to talk about perseverative topics (only want to talk about trains with everyone). Furthermore, other red flags may also be the student exhibiting restricted interests (really likes penguins or only plays with cars).
What other red flags do you look and listen for when collecting parent interviews?
Speech & Language Areas To Cover In Your Assessment
Based on the background section, you will know the main areas of concern. The bulk of your assessments should be focused on the main areas of concern. It is best to document informal and/or formal assessment findings in all areas even if the team doesn’t express concern. For example, if the team has expressed concerns with having conversations with peers and understanding social language, your report should mostly be addressing the areas of concern. However, you still need to document skills observed with articulation, language, fluency, etc.
It is important to include standardized language and social pragmatic assessments in your testing, but equally important to do dynamic assessment. Furthermore, documenting observations of the child in natural settings demonstrates how the student is applying social pragmatic language in real life situations.
Assessing Receptive & Expressive Language Considerations
There are a lot of standardized assessments available to help you gather information about the student’s performance. Typically, I will do a language screener if I do not have concerns with vocabulary and grammar. If receptive and expressive language abilities are a significant concern, then I do a full battery of tests in that area.
Pragmatic Language Assessment Tools
Here are some standardized assessments I have used to formally evaluate social pragmatic language understanding and use:
The Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals – 5th Edition (CELF-5) has a Pragmatic Profile checklist that you can fill out with parents and teachers. It also has a Pragmatic Activities Checklist that provides the clinician with a criterion reference score. I prefer to do the Pragmatic Activities Checklist because you get to see how the student applies his/her language skills in real time social interactions. The Pragmatic Profile checklist has a lot of great descriptive information to help you narrow down the child’s strengths and weaknesses.
The Clinical Assessment of Spoken Language – 2nd Edition (CASL-2) has several subtests that look at figurative language in the areas of Inferences, Pragmatic Language, Meaning From Context, Nonliteral Language, and Double Meaning. These subtests can help you determine if the student struggles with using context clues to figure out the language meaning.
The Test Of Narrative Language – 2nd Edition (TNL -2) assesses how a student can comprehend a story and tell a story. Based on the results from this assessment it can tell me if they can shift perspective and explain the character’s thoughts, motives, and actions. It also allows me to evaluate how well the student can see the big picture of the story or if they lack important details about the story. When the student is missing big chunks of the story, this can also demonstrate how or why the student has weaknesses with following the main idea of a conversation.
Receptive, Expressive & Social Language Assessment – Elementary looks at understanding and expressive use of language in the areas of vocabulary and syntax. It also has a social language component that gives you good information and is relatively quickly to give. The RESCA – E has a social communication observation scale to help determine how the student is performing in naturalistic settings.
Standardized Social Language Assessments
Clinical Assessment of Pragmatics test battery is a video-based assessment tool that elicits responses from the student about real-life social situations. You can obtain information about what the student’s ability to pick up on perspective taking, non-verbal and verbal cues from these video based situations. I learned about this standardized measure at CSHA 2018. This year, I am using it with a few students.
You can download a free assessment report template for how to write up your findings in your report. For your students that may “know” the right answers for social situations, this assessment may be able to elicit the weaknesses with applying social pragmatic language in a real life context.
Social Language Development Test – Elementary measures the language needed to make inferences about how someone is thinking or feeling based on the social context. This assessment also measures how well the student can make multiple interpretations of situation, if they can take on the perspective of others in problem situations and negotiate and support their peers. There is also the Social Language Development Test – Adolescent for older students.
Test of Pragmatic Language – Second Edition is a standardized measure that evaluates social communication in context, telling you how well students listen, choose appropriate content, express feelings, make requests, and handle other aspects of pragmatic language. If you do have to use formal assessments, this one is great because it tests language skills up to the age of 18.
Informal Pragmatic Language Assessment Resources
Social Thinking has an informal assessment framework called the ILAUGH model. It provides a framework for how you can report informal assessments to explain the skills a student is or is not exhibiting. The following is the acronym for ILAUGH: Initiating communication, Listening with the eyes and brain, Abstracting and inferencing, Understanding perspective, Getting the big picture (gestalt), and Humor and human relationship.
One powerful informal assessment is completing the Double Interview that I learned about from the book by Social Thinking – Thinking About YOU, Thinking about ME. Using this method, you conduct an interview with the student and observe how they respond to your questions. Then, you let the student interview you and see what types of questions they ask and what social behaviors they exhibit. One time, I showed a picture of my dad and myself on my wedding day. The student thought he was my husband. The double interview helps with figuring out if students can use background knowledge/cues to make social inferences and so many more skills! You can get a free checklist to use while doing the double interview and sample questions to ask HERE.
To informally evaluate a child’s theory of mind, you can administer the Sally – Anne Test to see if the child can shift perspectives and has a strong theory of mind.
Classroom Observations of the Student
I would recommend that you perform at least two observations of the student during naturally occurring situations. I like to watch the student at recess or lunch. Another good time to watch the student is during a collaborative instruction time. Here are some other times when you can observe the student:
Structured vs. unstructured times
Desired vs. undesired activities
Adult-directed vs. student-directed
Easy vs. difficult activities
Familiar vs. unfamiliar
In small groups, large groups
With family and peers
Here are some things to look for when observing the student
Use of eye contact (be mindful of the student’s cultural background and customs)
Topic maintenance and conversation
Language flexibility (understanding non-literal language)
Gestures and non-verbal language
Stereotyped, perseverative speech and echolalia
Ability to initiate, and close a conversation
If you are short on time and can’t observe the child. I recommend getting feedback of observations that the teacher is seeing in the classroom. Furthermore, I would also rely on the parent’s observations at home. That said, it I highly recommend doing observations of the student in a natural environment. You are the clinician that can determine the child’s social pragmatic understanding and use.
Social Pragmatic Checklists To Help You Identify Presence Of Skills
There is a checklist on the RESCA -E and the CELF – 5. Another comprehensive checklist to look into is the The Social Skills Checklist (Quill 2000).
If you are conducting social language assessments for minimally verbal students, I highly recommend using The Communication Matrix to informally assess the student’s functional communication. What checklists have been helpful for you to determine presence of skills?
What Assessment Tools & Resources Do You Use For Your Social Language Assessments?
I would love to hear about your expertise in conducting social language assessments. Share below resources that you have found helpful! I would love to know how you streamline your social language assessments too.
If you work as a school based SLP, getting speech therapy referrals for the R sound is pretty common. The /r/ distortions are pretty noticeable by teachers, parents and staff. Have you ever gotten that referral from a preschooler or kindergarten teacher and think, “I should probably get that teacher a developmental norms chart ASAP.”
A couple of years ago, our SLP Professional Learning Community discussed how to handle speech therapy referrals for /r/. Guess what happened…..there were a lot of varying answers and viewpoints. It stirred up a hot debate (all friendly discussion). And we left the PLC without a clear direction with how to handle /r/ speech therapy referrals.
What I learned after the Professional Learning Community Discussion
The perspectives of the /r/ referral varied from SLP to SLP. Some felt that you should take them younger (6-7 years of age) if they are stimuable. Other SLPs felt that the student wouldn’t meet eligibility for an articulation disorder based on educational code, but the student would receive support via Response To Intervention (RTI) with speech improvement. There were some SLPs that didn’t feel comfortable with providing RTI because of potential legal ramifications for seeing gen ed students without an IEP.
I decided to send out a survey on Speech Therapy Referrals
The discussion with other SLPs in the room was helpful in learning about different perspectives regarding an /r/ referral. However, I didn’t leave the discussion with a clearer understanding of what our district was supporting SLPs to do. Everyone had valid points and reasons for how they handled /r/ referrals, but we lacked a cohesive game plan for /r/.
My biggest question to the SLPs in the group was “when do you consider an /r/ error outside normal development?” I also wanted to know when SLPs took students with /r/ distortions on their IEP caseload or if they treated it through RTI.
Again, answers varied from SLPs. This prompted me to wonder what other SLPs thought across the United States. I figured I could get a bigger perspective by surveying a larger group.
Here is the situation I shared with SLPs
You have a 7 year old in second grade with a distorted /r/ in all positions. The teacher shares that at times it is difficult to understand the student. The parent also has concerns about his articulation. The parent signed a screening form for you to do a quick observation of his speech. You noticed that the /r/ is pretty distorted and he is not stimuable for /r/ when given prompts.
These were the results from the survey on how SLPs would handle /r/ referral:
Speech Therapy Referrals – Considerations about /r/
Many SLP’s commented that they would do an RTI model for this student; however, their district does not allow them to see students without an IEP.
Some SLP’s shared that they would not get an assessment plan signed until after age 8 because their district eligibility guidelines would not allow them to take a student for /r/ at age 7. Interestingly, some SLP’s shared that their district would not deem a single sound error of /r/ to meet eligibility for speech services. (There is an argument that /r/ is not a single sound error among some SLPs).
Many SLP’s also shared that because the teacher and SLP are observing reduced intelligibility, this may warrant a full assessment of articulation.
What I learned from being in the school setting & doing this survey
In certain districts where I have worked, I would not be able to get a signed assessment plan until the student turned 8. I was also told that I could not serve students in an RTI model because this would impact legalities with my job.
When looking at an /r/ referral, I have to determine if the articulation disorder is adversely impacting the student’s academic progress. This is where we ask ourselves if the student’s /r/ distortion is adversely impacting the student’s ability to meet the speaking and listening standards. We would also want to determine if the student’s intelligibility is below 80% intelligible. If it isn’t affecting academics or intelligibility, it is highly likely that the student will not meet eligibility for an IEP under an articulation disorder. That being said, if you feel that the /r/ distortion is adversely impacting those two areas, it is very important to make distinct mention of that in your report findings.
A few SLP’s shared that the classroom teacher must do 6-8 weeks of general education intervention before moving towards an assessment.
Many SLP’s shared that when the student’s /r/ is addressed earlier than 7.5-8 years in a “speech improvement model”, the /r/ improves. Furthermore, many have found when they monitor the student’s growth just by checking in with the gen ed teacher, that most develop the /r/ in third grade without intervention.
We must also consider our professional judgment with dealing with these referrals. We use the developmental norms as a guideline and really need to look at educational impact when looking at a student with articulation errors.
How I handled /r/ referrals in my previous job
Based on some reading that I did on ASHA’s website, federal law may impact an SLP’s ability to take students with /r/ on an IEP. Serving students in an RTI model may also lead use to legal implications. ASHA recommends SLPs not label intervention as RTI, but rather call it a “speech club.” I call my intervention “speech improvement class.”
Here is a link to RTI information on ASHA. This could be a great discussion piece to have with your districts and speech departments. I also found the Speech Sound Disorders page on the ASHA website helpful.
At the time of this survey, my speech department was having a lot of discussions about implementing a “speech improvement program” or seeing students on an IEP for /r/. There was not a final discussion. So, I did see a couple of students in speech improvement class that have noticeable /r/ distortions. The students were in second grade and between 7 or 7 1/2 years of age. Parent permission was obtained and the speech improvement class was for 6-8 weeks.
What are your thoughts about the /r/ referral or single sound error referrals?
How does your SLP department and district handle speech therapy referrals for /r/? What are your thoughts on taking an /r/ student in the school setting? I would love to hear your expertise. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or share in the comments below.
Do you have students that are at the generalization level with their articulation? I have some articulation carryover therapy resources that will help you plan therapy that also go well with mixed groups!
Need some free visuals to support self awareness and functional practice of your student’s articulation sounds? This blog post has FREE printables and ideas for how to organize your articulation therapy.
In the school setting, speech therapists are required to do speech therapy assessments to establish eligibility for speech services. SLPs are instructed to follow the educational code to identify if a student has a speech language impairment in the school setting. Completing a speech and language assessment in the school setting differs from other settings in that there is specific requirements that a child must meet in order to receive speech services in the school setting.
Last year, I started an assessment series to help SLPs learn about completing legally defensible speech reports. You can read about my first blog post HERE. It is all about collecting a thorough background section for your speech assessment reports.
The Importance of A Defensible Speech & Language Assessment
A legally defensible speech report is very important for determining eligibility for special education services. The speech assessment helps with developing an appropriate Individual Education Plan for a student, so it’s a big deal!
When do special education assessments get challenged
Parents can challenge an assessment if there has been a failure to assess the student. The school district may be viewed as not providing a free and appropriate education if they don’t complete the assessment.
The other reason parents can challenge an assessment is if they want an Independent Education Evaluation (IEE) completed by an outside agency. An IEE can be granted by a court only if IEP team failed to assess the student in all areas of suspected disability.
Determining Suspected Areas of Disability
A suspected area of disability can fall into any or all of these areas: health and development, vision, hearing, language function, social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, communicative status, motor abilities, self-help, orientation and mobility skills, and career and vocational abilities and interests.
The IEP team can collect information about suspected areas of disability is through your school’s general education intervention process. In California, we call them student study team meetings where we document response to intervention strategies to determine if those strategies are working or if noticeable concerns continue to surface with the students learning.
When doing an assessment with the whole IEP team, the SLP can work with the school psychologist and nurse to get the health and developmental questionnaire filled out by parent.
Here is an example of determining suspected areas of disability
If the parent and teacher both mention that they cannot understand the student when they are reading and communicating, this is a good indicator that you will need to thoroughly assess the student’s articulation skills. The SLP may choose to administer a formal articulation test and obtain a conversational sample. In order to determine if there are muscle and motor movement concerns with producing the sounds, an oral motor exam would be completed. Then, an informal baseline assessment could be completed to see if the student can correctly say the sounds at the word or sentence level. An SLP needs to look at other areas of communication such as language, fluency, voice and social skills, but the main assortment of assessment materials would fall into the suspected area of need.
Choosing Speech Therapy Assessment Tools
Some of these suggestions may feel like a no brainer, but I think it is always a good refresher to remember when considering which assessment batteries to use.
You must follow the test manual protocols to make the results valid & reliable. If you veered from the test manual, share a statement about how you used the test.
Assessment batteries must be given by trained professionals. Janitors, secretaries, parent volunteers and SLPAs can’t be administering tests for ya! You have to sail that ship.
Using one test to determine eligibility is not defensible because an SLP needs to show that they used a variety of measures to make a determination if a student has a speech and/or language disorder.
SLPs need to consider test biases and how that may impact the student’s scores. Dynamic assessment is a great informal assessment tool to use with students of a second language. You can see the helpful blog posts for speech assessments below.
A classroom observation should be completed when appropriate. For SLPs, classroom observations are definitely recommended when there are social pragmatic concerns.
Behavioral Considerations For Choosing Speech Therapy Assessment Tools
Some students you test will not comply with the test manual procedures because of many factors. In some cases SLPs have students that have a very short attention span. Furthermore, there are situations when you cannot establish a baseline or have NO interest in completing the assessment tasks. You may need to break an assessment up into chunks, and give positive reinforcements for work completed. Sometimes we have to pull out some creative behavioral techniques to keep the student engaged during the assessment. Documenting these accommodations is important for the team to understand the testing conditions. When formal assessments are not a reliable measure due to behaviors consider collecting information about the student’s speech and language skills via informal assessments, language samples, checklists, classroom observations and parent/teacher input.
Considerations For Assessing Students Who Speak English As A Second Language
Students who speak English as a second language must be assessed in their first language. If an SLP does not speak the language of the student, the SLP can use an interpreter. In order to meet eligibility for speech language impairment, a student has to be exhibiting language delays in both their primary and secondary languages. This can include interviews with parent about speech and language development, classroom intervention data, dynamic assessment information and results from formal assessments. This book from my former professor is VERY helpful for bilingual assessments. Check out the book Multicultural Students With Special Needs-Practical Strategies For Assessment & Intervention if you need support with bilingual assessments.
Knowing The Articulation & Language Differences of Your Student’s Primary Language & Secondary Language
If you assess students from different cultural backgrounds or speak English as a second language, it is very important to know the student’s primary language sound and language differences. This is helpful for determining if a student is exhibiting a speech and/or language disorder or if the characteristics observed in the student’s speech or language are just differences from English. When we know the student’s primary language characteristics, it helps us not over-identify students as well as help us pick reliable test measures. Throughout my career, I have had a lot of different languages that I have had to assess including Punjabi, Russian, Ukrainian, Spanish, Hmong, Mongolian, Somali and Arabic. I created a Dual Language Learners Guide to help me quickly reference articulation and language differences from English. You can check out my guide HERE or click the image above.
Tips & Time Saving Hacks For Speech Assessment Reports
First of all, work with your school psychologist and special education teacher to write a multi-disciplinary report. By having one thorough report, the SLP doesn’t have to duplicate the background information and focus on their portion of the assessment. Often times, I would write my own speech report and find that the psychologist and I had similar background sections. If we had combined our efforts, then it would have saved time and made our assessment more cohesive.
Part of doing a thorough speech assessment is writing the report. Therefore, it is important to include test validation statements and descriptions in your reports. Also, a solid background and interpretations of the test findings is recommended (check back for my last post in this series)! Creating TEMPLATES is how you save time! You can download my FREE speech therapy assessment report template below.
Here is a video on a report writing time saving hacks that you can watch on my facebook page.
Home Speech Home has over 90 test descriptions HERE; however, some of the tests have not been updated with the latest version. Nonetheless, it is still a great resource for those tests SLPS do not frequently use with students!
Interpretations & Summary Of Your Speech Assessment
My next post is going to be all about how to interpret the test results. Furthermore, writing a cohesive summary of your findings is important for explaining how the students scores may impact them in the classroom setting. We will also be discussing how to write recommendations in your speech reports! Do you have any questions about speech assessments? Leave a comment below or email me at email@example.com.
Are you starting your Clinical Fellowship Year and feeling overwhelmed with all the responsibilities of an SLP? Do you feel like you are always scrambling to find time to take accurate data of your students? Wishing you had progress monitoring resources in one spot for easy access? Today, I want to show you how to use SLPToolkit to manage your caseload.
All The Details About How I Started With SLPtoolkit
SLPToolkit gave me a year’s membership subscription (I was soooooo excited with the offer) in March to try out with my caseload. At that time, I was able to use this tool with part of my caseload and LOVED it! I am really looking forward to diving in with this tool at the start of the school year when, let’s face it, that’s when I am most gung-ho about being organized and efficient!
What is SLPtoolkit?
SLPToolkit is a digital application that you can use to improve SLP’s efficiency with completing progress reports. You can try it out for FREE with five of your students to see if you like using it. The monthly and yearly subscription options allows you to have unlimited access to your whole caseload as well as an amazing scheduling tool! For those SLPs that want to go digital with caseload management, this is the tool for you! (Psst…if you scroll down to the end of the post, there is a coupon code for a FREE month of unlimited use or $19 off the yearly subscription).
How To Use SLPtoolkit
SLPToolkit uses criterion referenced tests and rubrics to use when progress monitoring students growth. This way if you use the same criterion referenced tests 4 times a year on a student, you will see accurate growth or decline when using the same stimulus items.
How SLPtoolkit Can Be Used For Your Students
For each student, there are different categories you can click. You can access the student’s goals that you written by clicking on the goals icon. I was easily able to write a goal and copy/paste it into the IEP. If the school is doing response to intervention with a student, you can easily find teacher strategies/accommodations to print out and hand to the teacher to try with the student. This could also work for a student with an IEP. You can copy and paste strategies to be used in the classroom and document in the IEP, your reports or to give as helpful reminders for the teacher.
Do you ever get a student that transfers in 3 weeks before their IEP meeting? You have NO information about how he/she is doing with their speech or language goals and have NO idea what types of goals you should write? SLPToolkit has present levels of performance assessments that you can administer and then print the results! You can also access this application on your IPAD, so the child can see the stimulus items on the IPAD, while you take data on their performance on your computer.
No more digging through your book shelves and cabinets for assessment tools because they have all the progress monitoring tools right there for you to use! There are categories to chose from such as receptive/expressive language, social language, etc. When you click on one of those option, it will have subcategories for different skills such as semantics, concepts, grammar etc. There are also different levels, so you can see if the student has the skill, but struggles when the stimulus items increase in difficulty. I love the easy to print feature! You can bring this data to an IEP meeting to really help with advocating for your student’s needs.
They have a ton of pre-made goals already in the system, but you can house all your OWN goals in there as well under each student.
Here is a video tutorial on how to import your caseload into SLP ToolKit. My district uses SEIS, so I can easily import my current caseload.
You have to manually add some other details such as teacher and grade, but once you have updated it, you can easily print and adjust throughout the school year!
HERE is a tutorial for how to use the AMAZING scheduler. It is pretty darn cool and easy to use (it is my favorite feature). What I love about the scheduling tool is that I can easily go in and update as I get new students and then print it out right then and there! SLPtoolkit is in the process of updating the scheduler tool, so that you can also schedule in additional duties that you need to complete. I love to block out time for specific tasks and often need it written in my schedule or else I struggle to get it done. I love to block out time for assessments, medi-cal billing, calling parents, progress monitoring, organizing materials, etc.
Considering SLPToolkit? Here are some reasons this speech therapy resource may be for you!
This online tool is great for SLP’s that own a laptop or IPAD. It can totally be used with a desktop computer, but it might be difficult to progress monitor if you were doing it during the group session. So, if you own a desktop, this is a great way to progress monitor with the student pulling a chair up next to you.
This tool is also great for people who like things digital. The system is very user friendly for all levels of techy people. I know that most of my IEP writing happens on the online IEP database, so I can easily use SLPToolkit with the IEP database. You can definitely have a paper trail after using by printing the progress forms right on the spot!
You enjoy having consistent data to document progress. I will always have paper therapy logs with information about how my students are doing in therapy, but it is nice to have more consistent data using the criterion referenced tests and rubrics for showing progress in IEP’s.
You want to reduce paperwork stress and the amount of time it takes to monitor your students progress over the year.
Your district gives you a spending budget every year. This is a resource that I believe many school districts should invest in for their SLP’s. If more SLP’s used this tool, we would have better written IEP’s, more accurate data for students and happy SLP’s because the paperwork load would be a little lighter. It’s a win-win. I know when I first started out, I didn’t want to spend another DIME on resources because I had no money, but now as I am further into my career, you have to weigh out do you want more money in your pocket or more stress. I vote less money in my pocket and less stress in my life. Work with your school districts to get this tool for you to use. Using this resource will help districts sustain SLP’s and keep families satisfied with the support their students are getting.
You like having a goal database in one spot that can be easily customized for each student.
You need different levels of criterion referenced tests and rubrics for your students. SLPToolkit provides different levels of difficulty, so you can use the assessments across grade levels. They have them aligned by levels of difficulty and by grade level.
Love this already and want it for the start of the school year? SLPToolkit is giving all my followers 1 month full access for free or 19.00 off the annual. Just CLICK HERE and enter the coupon code: dabbling19 to get this sweet deal!
What do you think of SLPToolkit?? I would love to know your thoughts, questions and insights.
Raise your hands if you feel overwhelmed when told you MUST write a legally defensible speech and language assessment report? Anytime I am sitting in a department meeting and one of the administration team says “legally defensive”, my anxiety levels increase.
Every speech report I wrote flashes through my mind (especially in those early days). Would they hold up in a court of law? The realization that I may have written a speech and language assessment report that could one day be discussed in a courtroom where people could pick apart my skills, sends me into a state of panic.
Does anyone else feel a sense of panic?
This is me when I get an email or sit in a presentation about “legal” practices with IEPs and reports.
Collecting Background Information For Speech Assessments
Today, I wanted to share why including a thorough background information section in your speech and language assessment reports is important as well as a key component of writing a “legally defensive” report. I will also share what I include in my background information section and some of my tips on “how” to get that information in a timely manner!
Why do SLPs need to collect detailed background information?
It’s the law folks. Not only do we need to follow the eligibility educational code when doing assessments, but we also need to document that we tried interventions and considered all background information when determining eligibility.
We are showing the IEP team that we did our homework. It is important to gather information from many sources (i.e. parents, teachers, doctors) to show that we got to know our students and any important factors that could be impacting their scores on formal and informal measures.
These is also the areas where we discuss suspected areas of need. As we gather information from parents, the intervention team, medical information, etc. we can document those areas that may need to be assessed. This helps the SLP determine where they need to spend the bulk of their assessment. If teachers and parents share that people have a difficult time understanding the student, this means that a major portion of our assessment should be dedicated to looking at articulation and phonology development.
What should you include in your background information section
Include the student’s name, age, classroom grade level and level of support, and where they go to school.
Primary language- Documenting the languages the student speaks at home and in the classroom. This is where I include CELDT scores, years of English exposure, and how often and with whom they speak their primary and secondary languages. I may also include information regarding English Language Development and interventions used in the classroom.
Previous assessments, diagnoses, and therapy the child may have received from outside agencies or from previous assessments.
Documenting general education interventions- Student receiving Response To Intervention, and the outcomes of the interventions.
Stating how the student was referred to the speech therapist (i.e. parent, teacher, student study team, etc).
Reason for the assessment- is it an initial or triennial assessment and the purpose for conducting the assessment.
How can SLPs collect background information from families?
In California and specifically where I work, many school districts use a Student Assistance Plan (SAP) to document general education interventions. A student study team meeting is held after tier 1 and tier 2 interventions have been implemented. I have trained my support staff and teachers to always invite me if there are speech and language concerns. This way, I can be there at the meeting to ask appropriate developmental questions, inquire about classroom interventions and find out about the family history of speech and language delays.
Why you should invest the time to get good background information
Already, I can hear people saying “I don’t have time to go to more meetings.” This my friends are very true, but I look at this additional time spent as a way to save time later. I find that if I do not make time to showcase my expertise as a speech and language pathologist, I get many referrals that have not considered the educational code for eligibility (7th percentile), teachers who have not completed general education interventions (which legally we need to do to show least restrictive environment) or have not considered a child’s background and primary language development. Going to these meetings helps me to gather good background information as well as determine if an assessment is warranted.
I try and have parents fill out a health and development questionnaire. In the event that the parent hasn’t returned the forms, I rely on my teachers to help me because they sometimes see the parent during drop-off and pick up. My teachers are so awesome, they will make the parent fill it out right there at the moment, so we can get the information. In some cultures, I found that they are more transparent and upfront with medical professionals about health and family history. In those cases, I will ask my nurses to call parents to get that valuable information.
Need A Speech Therapy Report Template
One way to save time, in the long run, is to make templates of your speech reports. Over the years, I have written blurbs in different reports. I finally began compiling them all in one place, so I could easily reference them when I had a similar assessment. My speech report templates have SAVED me on those days when my brainpower is on zero. Click the links below to make your own Google Doc copy of the different templates. It has assessment descriptions, my speech report template, and some great blurbs for the summary and interpretation section of your report.
My next post in this series will be about choosing assessment tools and how to document that information in your report! I hope this was helpful!! What tips do you have for documenting background information?