Assessment: More than just a test score

We SLPs love our data and numbers. When we are compiling an assessment (or reassessment) we tend to rely heavily on standardized assessment scores. However, sometimes these scores do not tell the whole story. Many times, the information gathered through standardized measures is a great ‘jumping off point’ to dig deeper into a child’s communication functioning. We all know that as school system SLPs we are required to provide more than just assessment scores, but how do we gather this information? Where can we look to gain a more holistic view of our students? Here are some ideas that may help:
Observations:

  • Obviously, do classroom observations required for initial and type C evaluations, but also consider classroom observations for students being re-evaluated. Sometimes we get to know kiddos within the comfortable little bubble of the speech room and they look completely different in other settings.
  • You could also observe during lunch, recess or transition times, depending on the struggles of the specific child. Many times you can glean valuable information about a child’s functioning during this unstructured time.

Interviews:

  • Send the ‘parent/teacher interview’ form to anyone who comes in contact with the student. This may include: regular education, ECE, and special area teachers, parents/guardians/grandparents, instructional assistants, bus drivers, etc.
  • If you are able, deliver it in person and explain to the recipient the importance of careful consideration of each question.
  • Similarly, it can be helpful to take it one step further and talk through the questions together, so that it doesn’t become just another sheet of paper the teacher (or parent or other professional) has to fill out.
  • Although the questions on the ‘parent teacher interview’ form are excellent and very informative, don’t feel like you have to only ask these questions. If there are other, more specific questions that apply to a child, talk them through with people in the know. Sometimes these type of questions can be derived from areas of weakness (or strength) revealed during standardized assessment.
  • Talk to the student. Many times, even young kiddos and students with cognitive impairments can relay areas in which they struggle. Try to ask questions that are not too leading. You want the student’s true thoughts and feelings, not for them to give you the answer they think you want.

Research:

  • There are a few places you can look without ever leaving your desk! Make sure you check out their grades. If they are low in some areas, but not across the board, deficits may not be in the area of communication.
  • Other assessment scores including KPREP, MAP, etc.
  • Attendance records
  • Behavior records
  • Types of classes (If you notice that a kiddo is taking AP classes, you may have a more difficult time proving academic impact)

Where else do you look for assessment information? Are there other factors that you find to be compelling in one direction or the other?

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