Musings about Assessments and things

I recently read a great post by another SLP, Tatyana Elleseff, over at Smart Speech Therapy LLC.

I strongly recommend that you go read it. It’s a great post about WHY she does what she does, and why some parents (and schools) request her to do it. Intrigued yet? What are you waiting for – go read it. It’s titled: Special Education Disputes and Comprehensive Language Testing: What Parents, Attorneys, and Advocates Need to Know.

Tatyana’s post gave me some pause for thought…and then of course I had to follow the rabbit trail my mind seems to take sometimes. Ultimately, I came away with some questions and deep thoughts about our profession. 

testing Tatyana’s post discusses four case studies about students who needed Independent Educational Evaluation and why. I’ll be the first to admit, that a couple of the case studies she wrote about resonated with me. There were a couple situations that I could change the name of the student and it’d be one of my own or one I know in my school district (or, to be honest, my own daughter). As I read her post, I kept thinking of the students in my school and wondered if I’d missed anything when testing them. For a few of them, the words I heard were from the teachers who argued for or against services or for or against qualifying for an IEP. I’ve had lots of conversations about behaviors, motivation, etc…with general ed and special educators alike.

But…I think more importantly…this post made me question a few things. We all know that within the SLP world we tend to go in cycles and get on bandwagons with all sorts of buzzwords (I don’t mean that to sound as negative as it does)…As we learn about new techniques, old questions start to come up. As we start to shift focus a little bit, or expand our scope of practice, it creates a buzz.

For instance, we’ve known that pragmatic skills are well within our scope of practice…we all work on them – how to be a good sport, how to make a friend, etc. But, is social communication a qualifying disorder for an IEP in the school? What about executive functioning? EF is NOT a qualifying disorder…so what do we call it? If the language battery shows typical or mild language problems – but we can tell that EF is playing havoc with the kid’s academics – what do we do? Whose role is it to correct?

A similar difficulty is with students with an emotional disorder. Research suggests that as many as 70% of students diagnosed ED have a language disorder.

According to an article in the December 2012 perspectives, it’s actually closer to 80%:
“It is perhaps less commonly recognized, however, that language disorders are frequently overlooked in children with diagnosed emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD). In fact, 4 out of 5 students with EBD are likely to have an unidentified language deficit (Hollo, Wehby, & Oliver, in press).” 

How do we take a student who doesn’t qualify according to standardized language tests (or the tests show they have a weakness but it’s not severe enough) and give them the support to be successful in the classroom? How do we jump through the hoops we have to jump through in order to provide services? Should we be the ones providing services? Can SPED Teachers provide social skills training? Should they?

Tatyana’s post definitely caused me to think about how we (not just at my school, but we as a profession) do assessments.

What did you all think? Drop me a line. I look forward to hearing ALL your thoughts about her post as well as my questions.

Until then…adventure on!