Friday, December 18, 2015

Assessment Considerations for Students with Hearing Loss: Part Two

This post is a continuation from last week’s, in which I explained variables to consider when assessing skills in speech, language, and self-advocacy. 

For the areas of assessment covered in this post—audition, academic/ reading/ writing, and psychological/ cognitive assessments—I have again listed some tests that your team may want to consider when assessing deaf or hard of hearing students. Because each student faces unique challenges and possesses different strengths, you will have to work with your team to determine the best options.  My suggestions are meant to serve as examples.

Audition: As part of a comprehensive assessment, we need to know what our students are accessing. A FunctionalListening Evaluation is sometimes a good option to get a sense of the student’s access in the classroom. Other less formal measures such as those on Karen Anderson’s site take less time to administer and provide similar information.

Examples of audition tests:
·      Functional Auditory Performance Indicators (FAPI)
·      Contrasts for Auditory and Speech Training (CAST)
·      COMPASS Test of Auditory Discrimination

Academic/Reading/Writing: Many schools use a version of the Woodcock-Johnson to assess academic skills. While this is generally considered to be the standard test, savvy students can appear more skilled than they actually are by guessing correctly on the multiple-choice items. More challenging tests—such as the Weschler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT)—which require students to read passages and respond to open-ended questions may provide a better picture of the student’s skills. Formal reading (including phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, decoding, vocabulary, accuracy and self-correction, and comprehension) and a writing assessment should also be included with test results compared with student work samples.

Examples of academic/reading/writing tests:
·      Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS)
·      Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS)
·      Gray Oral Reading Test 5 (GORT 5) 

Psychological/Cognitive: Testing in this area is most often done by the school psychologist and analyzes verbal and non-verbal abilities as well as auditory memory. A critical component of this testing is to look at the difference between verbal and non-verbal scores. Often our students with hearing loss will score lower in the verbal portions of the test as a direct result of their hearing loss, which indicates the need for intervention. 

Examples of psychological/cognitive tests:
·      Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children  (WISC)
·      WPPSI for younger children, WAIS for students age 17 and older

How are you involved with student assessment?

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?