Overview of Speech Language Evaluation
Speech language disability status is determined through a comprehensive speech language evaluation. The purpose of the evaluation is to determine the functional performance of a student relating to the student’s current communication skills in the educational environment.
This evaluation must be comprehensive including qualitative data sources from educators, parents and other service providers, multiple measures (i.e., authentic dynamic assessment measures, norm-referenced assessment, criterion-reference measures, developmental profiles) and assessment in customary environments which may include language sampling. The evaluation should not rely one method of assessment like a standardized test.
The evaluation needs to answer the following questions:
- What are the student’s current strengths in communication?
- What are the student’s current weakness in communication?
- Are the student’s difficulties due to disability or learning difference?
- Are the student’s current difficulties due to dialect, cultural differences, second language learning, environmental and/or economic influences, or limited exposure?
- Do these difficulties impact the student’s educational performance or access to educational opportunities?
- What supports and/or prompts impact the student’s performance?
- Where do the communication difficulties occur?
Teams need to keep in mind additional considerations when looking at the results of the assessment. These include the normative sample on standardized tests need to match the profile of the student, students who are English language learners need to qualify as having a disability in their primary language, and psychometrics regarding specific norm referenced tests like test/retest, inter-rater, and consistency. Also, Chapter 14/IDEA does not require a significant discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement for a student to be eligible for speech/language services.