Communication and Language Assessment of Primary-Aged Students
Often primary-aged students are referred to an SLP (speech-language pathologist) for an evaluation based on an initial referral from parents or teachers. Teachers have the advantage of seeing a child perform multiple tasks and on multiple difficulty levels, work individually or in groups, and socialize and communicate with peers during class activities. Checklists that mark some of the characteristics of children with language difficulties can assist teachers in identifying children who are experiencing difficulties and following up with appropriate referrals.
SLP's also use norm-referenced measures to determine a child's eligibility for speech and language services. A score on a standardized test that is one to two standard deviations below the mean for the child's age is usually one of the criteria for eligibility. SLP's use test information to develop therapy goals as well as remediation and classroom support interventions.
Primary-aged students may also be assessed using curriculum-based language procedures that measure their ability to use language to learn classroom material (Paul, 1995) and systematic observations that measure their pragmatic skills and ability to adhere to classroom discourse rules and expectations. The SLP may act as a passive observer to assess the demands classroom activities place on the child and, in turn, the child’s ability to handle and manage these demands. Additionally, the therapist may work directly with the classroom teacher to identify ways to facilitate the child’s participation in the class and support his or her academic skills.
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