School-based speech-language pathologists often get swamped with treatment sessions, IEPs, meetings, progress reports, evaluations and more. We are tempted to cut corners with paperwork and tasks. One corner we can’t cut involves how we conduct speech-language evaluations.
Federal law states that in order to be eligible for speech-language services, a student must have documentation that shows a speech or language difficulty that has adverse effects in the classroom. “Adverse effect” means the child’s progress becomes impeded by his or her disability to the extent that academic performance falls significantly and consistently below levels of similar-aged peers.
Part of a speech-language evaluation determines that adverse effect and entails getting teacher input. One way to achieve this is through a teacher rating scale, which asks a classroom teacher to rank skills of the child getting evaluated based on what a typical child achieves in the same environment. These scales reflect a curriculum’s communication requirements.
Several teacher rating scales or survey questions are available free online. Here’s a small sampling of states and organizations that have scales and checklists.
- Texas Speech-Language-Hearing Association guidelines: Published in 2011 and not tied into the Common Core, these teacher impact rating forms cover a comprehensive range of communication skills. You’ll find the teacher survey questions and item analysis on pages 29-35.
- Georgia Organization of School-Based Speech-Language Pathologists: The website offers helpful information, forms, and teacher checklists based on Common Core standards and language development research. The checklists target teachers, therapists and other school staff to gather information on classroom functioning related to language skills while meeting Common Core standards.
- Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools (CHCCS), North Carolina: Also based on Common Core, these checklists were developed by the CHCCS team of SLPs. In addition to checklists for semantic, syntactic and morphological language skills, separate checklists allow a teacher to report on pragmatic language skills. The checklists are available as one collated document.
As we know, standardized assessments tell you only so much about a child’s struggles in the classroom. Teacher input is critical to a thorough evaluation and also for treatment planning. A teacher checklist, as simple as it seems, is an invaluable tool for you in your assessment and intervention planning. Grab one of the above checklists and add it to your assessment protocol today!
Ruth Morgan, MS, CCC-SLP, is a clinician in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools in North Carolina. She also publishes a blog, Chapel Hill Snippets, highlighting technology and adapted materials for children with significant language disabilities. firstname.lastname@example.org
Wendy W. Lybrand, MS, CCC-SLP, is a clinician in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. She specializes in technology to improve student communication outcomes.