Thursday, October 26, 2017

A New Student

We’re well into the year at this point. I finally have a schedule. I have a routine. Everything fits! And just like that, a request to evaluate a new student who will need TOD/HOH (Teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing) support. So long, established schedule!

So, what does a comprehensive initial evaluation look like? How do we determine services for a student we don’t really know? Here are the techniques and tools that I use.

I start by gathering background information. I look at:
·      recent audiological testing
·      the current IEP or 504
·      any academic, speech and language, psychological and/or pragmatic testing
·      reading and written language testing

These are all valuable tools in getting a picture of the student’s academic and audiological profile. Sometimes not all of this information is available and in those cases, I use whatever I’m able to gather. Not only do I evaluate scores, I also look for patterns of errors, especially verbal and non-verbal discrepancies in the psych testing (see my earlier post on testing here for more detail).

The next step is to talk with the family and find out their areas of concern. These tend to be based on academic, social or advocacy issues—and sometimes a combination of all three.

Then I reach out to school staff who are familiar with the student, as they can also provide valuable anecdotal data on how the student performs in school. I especially like to talk with the classroom teacher and SLP. If it’s still quite early in the school year, a teacher from the previous school year may also be able to provide valuable insight, as they may know the student better than a teacher who has only worked with this student for a few weeks.

Overall, my main goal is to determine why there is a request for services now when there hasn’t been a need observed in the past. Perhaps the student’s grades are falling; maybe they are withdrawing socially or refusing to use amplification; maybe the student is new to the district. To get a clearer picture, I like to have all adults who work with the student complete the SIFTER  and the teacher portion of the LIFE-R, which I can then analyze. For students in preschool through grade four, the advocacy checklist can put age appropriate expectations into perspective for teachers.

When I observe the student in the classroom, I am watching to see how they use their amplification. Does the student self-advocate and if so, when? And how? Does the student interact with peers? How does the student respond when directions are given? Does the teacher use visual supports? How are group discussions facilitated and how does the student with hearing loss participate? When possible, I like to see work samples as well.

Finally, I like to meet with the student to get their perspective. Completing the LIFE-R student version together can help me get information about access, and also understand my student’s feelings about their hearing loss and amplification. I also ask general questions about school and related activities.

Once I have a complete picture, I am able to compile all my data into a report with service recommendations. Service delivery grids such as this one can be useful in justifying recommendations. Providing a comprehensive picture of the student and their individual needs based on observations, as well as the data acquired from the various tools listed, is far more convincing when making a recommendation than a simple observation without this additional information.

What other tools do you use when evaluating new students?


  1. For self-advocacy IEP goals, I use the pre/post tests from Knowledge is Power in order to get numbers for the PLAFFP. I also have a student name as many parts of their technology as possible then I see how many parts they can point to when I name the rest. Again, that gives a nice number for the PLAFFP. EX: The student could name 2/6 parts of their FM system.

    1. KIP is a great resource! And incorporating expressive and receptive components into your assessment is also important. Thanks for sharing :)

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