Saturday, December 12, 2015

Assessment Considerations for Students with Hearing Loss: Part One

December! How is it possible that we are almost half way through this school year? Many of my students have evaluations coming up in the spring and I’ve already begun working with my teams to ensure comprehensive testing in the next few months by meeting with teachers, discussing concerns and progress with parents, and analyzing my own session notes. I am not always the one to administer the tests, but I am always involved in the analysis and offering expertise on hearing loss. Sometimes I am even able sit in during the testing, since the school professionals who administer formal tests likely have experience with the administration and analysis, but may not understand how hearing loss impacts the results. Additionally, school staff may not have an understanding of the best tests to administer in order to get an accurate picture of our students’ skill levels.

The following areas must be addressed in comprehensive testing for students with hearing loss. In addition, I have listed some tests that your team may want to  consider when assessing students with hearing loss. Every student has different needs and therefore different tests are appropriate in each situation and many more assessments are available, not just the ones I’ve listed here!

This week I’ll cover speech, language, and self-advocacy assessments. Next week, I’ll go over assessments in the areas of audition, academic/reading/writing skills, and psychological/cognitive abilities.

Speech: Speech assessments are most often administered by the student’s SLP. It is still necessary for the TOD/HOH to be part of the analysis of test results. As TODs, we understand how auditory access impacts speech production. Comparing articulation errors to the student’s audiogram and using our knowledge of hearing technology, we can work with SLPs to set high (but reasonable) expectations for articulation goals. For example, we know that students with cochlear implants may not have great access to short vowel sounds and may need practice in discriminating and producing these sounds at the word or sentence level.  In contrast, a student with a high frequency loss may have limited or no access to high frequency speech sounds even with hearing aids. Such information shared with the SLP can enhance the productivity of speech sessions, rather than creating frustration for the SLP and the student.

Examples of speech tests:
·      Clinical Assessment of Articulation and Phonology (CAAP)
·      Goldman Fristoe Test of Articulation II

Language: Comprehensive language assessments will include vocabulary; relationships between words; and receptive and expressive language tests at word level, as well as in connected speech/passages.

TODs understand how hearing loss impacts language development and rather than simply looking at the percentile rank or standard score, we can analyze the test items that our students miss and look for patterns in the errors. The majority of my students are “average” according to their scores but with a closer analysis of the test items, patterns emerge and these are the areas I want to be sure to address during my time with the student in order to bridge the “gaps” we so frequently hear about. Again, even if I am not the one administering these tests, I always ask to meet with the test administrator and look at the breakdown of test items.

Additionally, language samples provide real life examples of what our students produce. Comparing formal testing with language samples allows for a more complete picture of our student’s language skills.

Examples of language tests:
Peabody Picture Vocabulary Tests – expressive and receptive vocab
·      Critical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals  (CELF )
·      Cottage Acquisition Scales for Listening Language and Speech (CASLLS)
·      Oral and Written Language Scales (OWLS-II)
·      Comprehensive Assessment of Spoken Language (CASL)
·      Test of Narrative Language (TNL)
·      Test of Written Language 4 (TOWL IV)

Self-Advocacy / Pragmatics: Karen Anderson has many tools that can be used with students of a variety of ages and abilities and I've described how I use some of them in an earlier post. Some are observational tools that I use in the classroom and others I fill out with teachers. A student-completed report is always included as well. Such assessments can be supplemented with anecdotal data from observations within the classroom. Areas to look at include pragmatics, social skills, the student’s understanding of and ability to explain his hearing loss and amplification, and the student’s ability and willingness to self-advocate.

Examples of self-advocacy tests:
·      Test of Pragmatic Language (TOPL)
·      Minnesota Social Skills Checklist
·      Placement and Readiness Checklist (PARC)

Stay tuned for my next post, in which I’ll discuss considerations for assessments in audition, academic skills, and cognitive abilities.

How are you involved with student assessment?


  1. Hi Heather. I am looking for resources for accommodations for deaf/HI students on state assessments. I have found some, but they are very vague. Do you know of any direct resources? Thank you.

    1. Hi Emma,
      Unfortunately I haven't found anything substantial either and at Clarke, we continue to discuss this very issue in terms of what students receive / are deemed eligible for at different schools and in different districts. Massachusetts in particular is in the process of transitioning to a new assessment (PARC, formally MCAS) which includes a video component for the computer based test and is proving challenging for many reasons. If I come across anything concrete I will definitely share!