As most of you know, I work with preschool aged students in a public elementary school. All of the students on my caseload are in our full-day program. The full-day preschool classes are comprised of students with autism, sensory disorders, and other developmental or medical disorders. I absolutely love this population and have a ton of fun planning and coming up with exciting therapy ideas. With that said, there are SOME things that can become difficult when working with non-verbal/minimally verbal preschoolers. One of those things is EVALUATIONS! While I do enjoy evaluating my students especially to see what progress they have made and what goals/objectives they have mastered, it does become a challenge at times.
I currently have 11 (YES 11!!!) preschoolers that will be turning 5 and stepping into “school-age” in the upcoming school year. That means…administering evaluations, doing classroom observations, consulting with teachers, and reviewing data/notes from the entire year for each of those students. Oh….all of that needs to be done while still seeing my students for their regularly scheduled speech sessions, doing in-class group speech, SEMI logging, etc.! It’s overwhelming just thinking about it!
Before freaking out, I had to sit down and really think about how I was going to get all of this done. First things first, I needed an easy way to plan out and organize dates, students, tests to administer, etc. I found the perfect solution from Maureen over at The Speech Bubble….Speech Therapy Organization and Data Planner. It includes editable forms, testing planning form, room/door sign, etc. It was an easy way for me to get started with my assessment planning not to mention how visually appealing the forms are!
Next, I needed to think about what assessments, materials, checklists, etc. I wanted to use for each student in order to gather the most information. Not only that but this information/data needs to be comprehensive in order to write effective goals for the upcoming school year. As we all know as SLPs, we need to write measurable goals that our students can achieve within the timeline of their IEP.
That brings me to the first set of “assessment forms” I am using for this process. They are from Danielle over at Sublime Speech! Her “Editable SLP Assessment Templates” ARE AMAZING! There are forms for oral motor, articulation, autism, and so much more. Not to mention the parent questionnaires, assessment planning forms, and checklists. This entire pack is literally making my life SO MUCH EASIER. Although I’m not using ALL of the forms for my re-evaluations…at least I know I will be prepared for any upcoming initial evaluations, observations, etc.
One of the BIGGEST pieces of my assessments for my preschoolers (MANY of which are nonverbal) is the observation/functional piece. Jenna from Speech Room News has a FABULOUS Preschool SLP Evaluation Forms: Play Based Assessment pack which includes an amazing observation form with areas of early developmental skills which is basically PERFECT for me. Not only am I able to use the checklists and observation forms in the pack, BUT there are also fantastic visuals to use when explaining things to parents during meetings.
My district mostly uses the PLS-5 as our standardized assessment. I’ve administered this plenty of times and love the amount of information I am able to gather from it (not to mention standard scores and percentiles). However, I do have a few students who this does not work for….which brings me to THE COMMUNICATION MATRIX! If you have not heard of this or used it before, you MUST check it out. It is a FREE (YES! FREE!!!!!) assessment tool which is IDEAL for your students with autism, non-verbal, etc. Like the website states, it is designed for “individuals who function at the earliest stages of communication and who use any form of communication.” All you need to do is a create an account and you can get started. After you complete the matrix by going through the various questions, you are able to print a one page profile which HIGHLIGHTS the things your students are able to do whether it’s verbally, by gestures, using symbols, etc. I LOVE THIS! Head over to www.communicationmatrix.org to see how awesome it is for yourself!
Many of my students use PECS and I was lucky enough to get certified in this a few years back through my district. The PECS book really has fantastic forms which brings me to the another set of checklists I am using for my re-evals….Useful Functional Communication Skills and Critical Communication Skills. The checklists include skills like “Requests reinforcers”, “Respond to directions”, etc. and a space to write an example for each! This will allow me to note specific times the students have used some of these skills. Parents love hearing stories or examples of how their child performed in class!
There will be some other information I will include in my reports but for the most part I think I am off to a great start!! I would love to hear what your assessment process is like and if there are some great forms/checklists you find useful!