Assessment and Evaluation of Speech-Language Disorders in Schools

This is a guide to ASHA documents and references to consider when conducting comprehensive speech-language assessments. Speech-language assessment is a complex process. Assessing, describing, and interpreting an individual's communication ability requires the integration of a variety of information gathered in the evaluation process. ASHA's Preferred Practice Patterns for the Professions of Speech-Language Pathology (2004) indicates that comprehensive speech-language pathology assessment includes these components:

  • Case history, including medical status, education, socioeconomic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds and information from teachers and other related service providers
  • Patient/client/student and family interview
  • Review of auditory, visual, motor, and cognitive status
  • Standardized and/or non-standardized measures of specific aspects of speech, spoken and non-spoken language, cognitive-communication, and swallowing function, including observations and analysis of work samples
  • Identification of potential for effective intervention strategies and compensations
  • Selection of standardized measures for speech, language, cognitive-communication, and/or swallowing assessment with consideration for documented ecological validity and cultural sensitivity
  • Follow-up services to monitor communication and swallowing status and ensure appropriate intervention and support for individuals with identified speech, language, cognitive-communication, and/or swallowing disorders

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004) has specific provisions concerning the assessment of students (Sections 300.301-300.305) in schools. In addition, SLPs need to follow state and local requirements for the assessments of students.

It is important to note the distinctions between the terms evaluation and assessment according to IDEA Part C Guidelines. Evaluation means the "procedures used by qualified personnel to determine a child's initial and continuing eligibility..." IDEA (2004), Part B requires that an evaluation be comprehensive and assess all areas of suspected disability. It is important for the clinician to involve other assessment staff as part of the multidisciplinary evaluation team to address educational and/or behavioral concerns for students who are not meeting the grade-level expectations (IDEA, 2004, Section 34 CFR 300.304). 

 Assessment means "the ongoing procedures used by qualified personnel to identify the child's unique strengths and needs and the early intervention services appropriate to meet those needs throughout the period of the child's eligibility...and includes the assessment of the child...and the assessment of the child's family..." (IDEA, Part C, Section 303.321)

ASHA Practice Policy Documents

Research and Evidence Based Practice

Language/Speech Sampling 

Pediatric Swallowing and Feeding Templates

Multicultural/Multilingual Assessment


ASHA Corporate Partners