You know, every once in a while we find an app and think…Wow! This is genius. Of course, sadly, there’s the flip side and we’re forced to wonder why someone would even go to the trouble of coding the app in the first place. Smarty-Ears’ latest app (as of Aug. 2012) the Common Core Early Language Screener is …
thankfully one of the former. The Common Core Early Language Screener (CCELS) has quickly earned a spot in my “favorite apps” folder on my iPad. The CCELS is very similar to many of the language screeners that are out there for preschool (CELF Screener, DIAL4, etc.).
To start, the CCELS allows me to input my school and name one time in the “settings” area. It then populates in the reports with no further prompting. On the “home” screen, there are buttons for support, settings, printing, past screenings (records), and new screenings.
If we tap new screenings, we are given the opportunity to plug in student information (name, DOB, gender, grade). The Grade field is particularly important as it will drive the assessment. Obviously pre-school children do not require the same testing as a student at the end of kindergarten…they aren’t expected to know the same things. (Genius isn’t it?)
The screener starts off fairly simple – “What is your name?” and “How old are you?” Depending on the grade level of the student, the app moves into:
Actions, labeling pictures, color and shape, counting, etc… all the way to phonemic awareness, sight-reading, and comparative vocabulary. I’m not going to list everything it covers here because 1) you will want the app anyway so I’m wasting your time, and 2) it is most likely on the smarty-ears website! Be sure to watch the video clip while you are there.
There are guidelines as to what to say for prompts, all pictures and stimuli are present in the app, which is really nice. It’s awesome to see a language screener do this – I’m very hopeful we may be able to move to having more actual assessments use an app format.
Of course, there are a few things I would do differently if I could. Namely, sometimes we can give credit for receptively identifying with additional credit for expressively labeling…but other times we are not able to. There doesn’t seem to be a reason why – but I will readily admit, I haven’t spoken with the author – so there may be. I have sent an email to smarty-ears about this.
One thing I absolutely love is that this does seem to follow the Common Core Standards for what children are expected to know for kindergarten language standards. My school is starting Core Standards this year for K-1-2 (and all of the grades really)…and this will be invaluable for RTI as well as a screener for potential testing.
The cost is a bit higher than I like to pay out-of-pocket ($29.99) and that may put people off a bit (particularly since it’s not normed – remember…it’s a screener!). But, if you look at the bigger picture and figure the price of the DIAL 4 is $625 it’s not so bad. (Of course, the DIAL 4 also looks at motor, cognitive, etc. and the CCELS isn’t able to do that…yet.) So for the $30 the app costs (which by the way is less than 6 fancy coffee drinks, or 1 meal in a restaurant) I have a great little app that makes my job a little bit easier. Definitely worth the cost.
If any of you have used the CCELS, I’d love to hear your responses! Or, if you have a new app that you can’t wait to tell me about…drop me a comment here!
Until then…Adventure on!
***Update: I have recently viewed comments/reviews left on iTunes regarding this screener. Some of those reviews have merit – it might be nice to have the student be able to touch the pictures and have it keep score. But, at the same time – preschool and kindergarten fingers are … quick. They may be touching before the SLP is able to ask the question.
A second complaint that was written was that the app didn’t give a specific breakdown of all the errors and how can the SLP write goals without it.
Wait! Hold on!!
This app is a screener! A. Screener. It is not designed to tell the SLP what the child’s communication breakdown is…it’s designed to tell you whether or not the student is meeting specific language goals set in the common core state standards AND whether or not there’s a possibility of a problem. NO test is supposed to give us goals. We aren’t supposed to write goals based on test questions – and what a child gets wrong. Assessment is only a part of what goes into a good goal. (But, I think that might be a different post topic!)
This is a great app…but keep in mind a few things.
1) The SLP (or teacher or adult) must still be the professional. Clinical judgement is still necessary. No Assessment can “write”a goal.
2) The iPad is not a toy. Not every app out there has to be interactive and fun. Sometimes apps are not as much fun – but every bit as useful.
3) This app is a screener. It is not a full-blown language assessment. It is designed for a very specific purpose.
4) This app is designed for children who are very young (Pre-K to K). If you work in middle school, please don’t buy it. Unless you work with severely cognitively impaired students it will be useless. For preschool SLPs and early school-based SLPs, this app is a great screener. It’s very similar to the DIAL.
5) When the verbal responses are coming – keep a mental note of articulation errors. This app does not specifically target articulation. But to be fair, it doesn’t say it does.
6) Last but not least – if you have a problem with an app…please…please…let the developer know before you write a negative review. Sometimes it’s a matter of operator error (yes, I know – I do it too!)…and sometimes there’s a reason for it being the way it is and the developer or author can let you know what that reason is. Be a part of the solution toward making the apps better – not tearing them down. Really, it’s much more satisfying.
As always – leave me your thoughts. I’d love to hear them…(but please be nice, it’s been a tough week!).
*Disclaimer: While I am on the Smarty Ears advisory board I did not have input nor did I receive compensation for reviewing this app.