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Assessment, Eligibility, and Dismissal in Schools: Strategies, Tools, and Decision-Making

February 1–13, 2023 | Online Conference

Pre-recorded sessions will be on-demand and last about an hour, so you can watch them whenever time permits! Each session will include dismissal questions, strategies, and/or considerations related to the particular topic.

Speech Sound Assessment That Supports Effective Intervention and Progress Monitoring
Teresa Farnham, MA, CCC-SLP

When assessing and analyzing the speech sound mastery of preschool and early elementary-age children with highly unintelligible speech, it can be challenging to measure baseline and progress in an unbiased, meaningful manner. This session discusses how to start a child moving quickly toward intelligibility by using simple and effective assessment practices, while also easing the workload for periodic progress monitoring.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • choose effective phonemic targets for highly unintelligible children from phonological assessment results
  • write a long-term, measurable goal for speech intelligibility based on assessment 
  • monitor a child’s progress toward intelligibility quickly and accurately

Language Sampling for the School Clinician Using the SUGAR Tool
Stacey Pavelko, PhD, CCC-SLP, FNAP

This session demonstrates how to use SUGAR, a method of language sampling analysis, for conducting and analyzing language samples more efficiently and effectively. The speaker shares free resources and a case study, during which participants can use the SUGAR framework to analyze a language sample, interpret the results, select intervention targets, and write curriculum relevant goals.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • analyze language samples for four different metrics, including Total Number of Words, Mean Length of Utterance (SUGAR), Words per Sentence, and Clauses per Sentence
  • interpret the results of the language sample analysis
  • identify curriculum-relevant intervention targets

Assessment of Pediatric Voice Disorders in the School Setting
Shannon Theis, PhD, CCC-SLP

Voice disorders in children necessitate a thorough evaluation, including a complete case history and intake, perceptual assessment, acoustic/aerodynamic measurement, and laryngeal visualization. This session discusses low-tech and high-tech voice assessment techniques that school-based clinicians can employ, along with a series of cases that highlight the importance of voice evaluations in a school setting.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • describe evaluation procedures for clinical assessment of voice disorders in children in a school setting
  • identify at least two low-tech acoustic and aerodynamic evaluation techniques to assess voice disorders in school-age children

Assessment of Bilingual Children: Current Challenges and Approaches
Elizabeth Peña, PhD, CCC-SLP

A significant portion of school-age children speak languages in addition to English. To make appropriate diagnostic decisions when there are few available measures, SLPs must conduct assessments that have good classification accuracy and that are culturally and linguistically appropriate. This session addresses questions about assessments for bilingual or multilingual children, such as: How do we know how to select the best test for clinical diagnostic decision-making? What evidence-based procedures can we use? What are appropriate procedures for interpreting assessment results from children who use different varieties of English?

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • review and evaluate standardized and nonstandardized tests to use for diagnostic decision-making
  • define psychometric principles that guide selection of appropriate measures, including sensitivity and specificity
  • compare available standardized measures and nonstandardized procedures appropriate for diagnostic assessment for children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

AAC from Start to Finish: Assessing for a Communication System and Planning for Intervention
Kathryn D’Agostino Russo, MS, TSSLD, CCC-SLP

SLPs who work in schools are encountering more students who may require augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), but these professionals may not always feel they have the tools to adequately assess and implement interventions. This session shares tips for conducting AAC evaluations in the school setting and using dynamic assessment to guide language intervention. The speaker addresses access considerations, interdisciplinary collaboration, and caregiver involvement.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • describe dynamic assessment approaches for AAC
  • identify access methods and explain considerations for assessment and intervention
  • consider the importance of multimodal access approaches
  • list ideas for caregiver involvement in the AAC evaluation process and beyond
  • identify tools for determining intervention targets

Choosing Progress Monitoring Tools for Documenting Narrative Language Growth
Sandra Gillam, PhD, CCC-SLP

Narrative discourse is an important goal for many students across the age-span but can be difficult to characterize and track over time due to the multitude of progress monitoring tools to choose from. This session highlights that one narrative assessment approach does not fit all students and that clinicians need to be able to select a rubric that is sensitive to changes in language ability as it becomes more complex over time. The presenter explores currently available rubrics and scoring systems for measuring oral narrative proficiency that utilize different elicitation procedures and scoring criteria and describes a continuum of narrative ability that can serve as a guideline for choosing rubrics that best serve progress monitoring needs for individual students.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • describe three or more progress monitoring tools for measuring oral narrative abilities of 4- to 15-year-old students with language disorders
  • identify 3-5 procedures for eliciting oral narrative samples from 4- to 15-year-old students with language disorders
  • explain critical differences between oral narrative scoring criteria that may influence clinical judgments of oral narrative proficiency
  • discuss a “best practice” continuum for measuring oral narrative proficiency as students demonstrate more sophisticated language abilities over time
  • list aspects of narrative acquisition that may (and may not) differ across diverse learners

Strategies for Honoring Neurodiversity in Social Communication Assessment
Geralyn Timler, PhD, CCC-SLP

The lived experiences of neurodivergent adolescents and adults reveal that changes are needed in how SLPs approach social communication assessment and intervention. Client-centered protocols for assessing social communication must address two goals: the needs of the student, and the perspectives and behaviors of the student’s peers that support or hinder social interactions. This session presents strategies and tools for addressing both goals.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • describe the peer interaction experiences and views of social communication intervention reported by neurodivergent adolescents and adults
  • use the evidence base to select appropriate tools for social communication assessment and intervention planning
  • implement strategies for collecting data about a student’s peer interaction opportunities and barriers
  • list resources for teaching all students about neurodiversity

Culturally Responsive Assessments in Schools
Fe González Murray, EdD, MS, CCC-SLP

This session explores a situation that many school-based SLPs find themselves in: Serving students whose languages and cultures differ from their own. The presenter uses case studies to review the role of monolingual SLPs in evaluating culturally and linguistically diverse students and explores evaluation protocols to help distinguish between communication difference and disorder.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • explain one way to determine what language(s) a bilingual child should be evaluated in
  • list two procedures that can be part of a bilingual assessment protocol
  • identify and share a resource that an evaluator may use to help determine difference vs. disorder

Developing Meaningful Transition Plans for Students With Language-Based Literacy Deficits
Ginger Collins, PhD, CCC-SLP

The negative impacts of poor literacy skills are not limited to academic coursework; they can persist into adulthood and negatively affect many elements of quality of life. This session illustrates the important role of SLPs in contributing to individualized transition plans (ITPs) for students who struggle with written language skills to ensure a successful transition to life after school. The presenter discusses assessment practices that help inform ITP goal selection and presents opportunities for interdisciplinary interventions that prepare these students for success after graduation.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • summarize the school-based SLP's contribution to a meaningful transition plan for students who struggle with literacy skills
  • utilize assessment strategies that inform intervention practices
  • implement interventions that prepare students with literacy deficits for success after graduation

Aligning Assessment Practices With Special Education Eligibility Requirements
Lissa Power-deFur, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-CL

Eligibility for speech-language services in schools must adhere to the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA). This session explains IDEA requirements, including eligibility criteria, use of standardized and nonstandardized assessments and classroom observations, and team decision-making. The presenter shares strategies and addresses eligibility concerns related to unique populations as well as presents tips to enhance deliberations by interprofessional teams when making eligibility decisions.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • select and administer assessments that lead to more informed eligibility decisions 
  • connect assessment data with education standards to document adverse educational impact
  • explain potential causes of disproportionate eligibility determination of students from diverse racial-ethnic backgrounds
  • develop a communication plan to improve the eligibility team’s understanding of the adverse educational impact of a speech-language impairment

Ethics in Schools: It's More Than Reading and Writing
Lizbeth Dooley-Zawacki, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-CL

Even the most seasoned school-based SLP experiences moments when they stop and say, “Am I doing the ‘right’ thing?” The question may refer to their adherence to ethical standards or to the legal and clinical expectations of clients and employers. Determining what is “right” should emerge from the SLP’s legal and ethical knowledge, so this session focuses on legal and ethical problem-solving across common school-based challenges.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • construct a decision-making flowchart to analyze and solve a caseload/workload problem
  • compare ethical and legal responsibilities in school-based practice
  • evaluate your current employment for potential ethical or legal issues

The Role of Written Expression in Assessment, Eligibility, and Dismissal in Schools
Nickola Wolf Nelson, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-CL

Written expression is one of the four major modalities (along with listening comprehension, spoken expression, and reading decoding and comprehension) that SLPs need to assess when identifying language and literacy disorders among school-age children and adolescents. This session shares a framework for analyzing the variety of tasks used for written language assessment on standardized tests and considers pros and cons of each to inform decisions regarding eligibility and dismissal. The session includes opportunities to practice applying a multilevel language analysis system to written language samples of students with varied profiles.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • describe the pros and cons of varied formal tasks designed to assess written expression as part of comprehensive language and literacy evaluation for purposes of eligibility and dismissal in schools
  • apply a language levels model to quantify and qualitatively describe samples of students’ written language at discourse, sentence, and word (vocabulary and spelling) levels

Vocabulary Instruction to Increase Academic Success
Nichole Mulvey, PhD, CCC-SLP

Addressing the vocabulary learning needs of your students can be daunting. Where do I start with vocabulary target selection? What is the best way to teach my students to efficiently learn vocabulary for language and reading comprehension? This session explores semantic learning expectations for academic success and shares evidence-based practices for providing opportunities to increase vocabulary knowledge and use. Learners will walk away with information on how to build a strong foundation in semantics to set the stage for meaningful reading comprehension assessment that leads to appropriate interventions.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • explain semantic learning expectations for success in school
  • compare semantic learning strategies of children who demonstrate language deficits compared with their typically developing peers
  • outline an intervention plan focusing on increasing semantic learning

School-Age Stuttering: Creating Confidence in Clinical Decisions
J. Scott Yaruss, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-F, and Nina Reeves, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-F

Navigating public school structures to create neurodiversity-informed stuttering assessment and intervention can be challenging for most speech-language pathologists. This session shares practical frameworks for assessment, eligibility, and dismissal decisions for students who stutter.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • identify at least four aspects of a comprehensive stuttering assessment
  • implement eligibility decisions based upon data that encompasses the student’s experience of stuttering
  • develop concrete markers for clinical decision-making when considering dismissal from services
"I loved how there were different perspectives on the same subject. I liked the tips and practical treatment strategies that were provided."
Past ASHA Professional Development online conference participant

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