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    Handout: Assessment and the Status Quo: The Pros and Cons of the Standardized Assessment

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Course Description and Learning Outcomes

You are preparing for a speech and language evaluation.  You’ve read through the client / student’s file, (previous IEP, intake form, etc.), maybe you’ve conducted an interview with other stakeholders, and you have the general sketch of what issues need to be assessed.  You start thinking about how you want to measure these areas.  Likely you are thinking about which tests you might want to give and why.  Every SLP has gone through this process, and most of us move forward with the assessment prioritizing the use of norm-referenced tests.   

We as SLPs heavily rely on norm-referenced measures (per several articles we reviewed).  While norm-referenced measures have their place and serve a very specific purpose, these tests are not well suited to designing individualized treatment.  In this episode we dive into the literature to explore the pros and cons of the standardized assessment, when they serve a purpose, and why they should not be used to drive individualized treatment plans.

Join us, be our nerdy friends and take a dive into the literature (in our time machine back to 1991).  Let’s explore the culture of norm-referenced assessments, why it is the way it is and what we can (and should) do about it.   

  1. Identify at least 1 ethical underpinnings of assessment and the overall purpose of assessments
  2. Identify at least 2 fundamental components of assessment
  3. Identify at least 3 components of a standardized assessment and how to report use of any modifications

Course Presenters

SLP/BCBA; SLP Kate Grandbois (she/her) & Amy Wonkka (she/her

Kate and Amy are co-founders of SLP Nerdcast. Kate is a dually certified SLP / BCBA who works primarily as an "AAC Specialist." She owns a private practice with a focus on interdisciplinary collaboration, augmentative alternative communication intervention and assessment, and consultation. Amy is an SLP who also works as an "AAC Specialist" in a public school setting. Amy's primary interests are AAC, typical language development, motor speech, phonology, data collection, collaboration, coaching, and communication partner training and support.

Speaker Disclosures

Kate Grandbois financial disclosures: Kate is the owner / founder of Grandbois Therapy + Consulting, LLC and co-founder of SLP Nerdcast. Kate Grandbois non-financial disclosures: Kate is a member of ASHA, SIG 12, and serves on the AAC Advisory Group for Massachusetts Advocates for Children. She is also a member of the Berkshire Association for Behavior Analysis and Therapy (BABAT), MassABA, the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) and the corresponding Speech Pathology and Applied Behavior Analysis SIG. 

Amy Wonkka financial disclosures: Kate is an employee of a public school system and co-founder of SLP Nerdcast.  Amy Wonkka non-financial disclosures: Amy is a member of ASHA, SIG 12, and serves on the AAC Advisory Group for Massachusetts Advocates for Children.

Time Ordered Agenda

10 minutes: Introduction, Disclaimers and Disclosures

20 minutes: Review the ethical underpinnings of assessment and the overall purpose of assessments

15 minutes: Identify the fundamental components of assessment

10 minutes: Identify the components of a standardized assessment and how to report use of any modifications

5 minutes: Summary and Closing

References and Resources

Austin, L. (2010). Dynamic Assessment: Whys and Hows. Perspectives on School-Based Issues, 11(3), 80-87. doi:10.1044/sbi11.3.80

Eichstadt, T. (2016). Best Assessment Ever? You. The ASHA Leader, 21(3), 32-33. doi:10.1044/leader.scm.21032016.32

Ebert, K. D., & Pham, G. (2017). Synthesizing Information From Language Samples and Standardized Tests in School-Age Bilingual Assessment. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 48(1), 42-55. doi:10.1044/2016_lshss-16-0007

Fulcher-Rood, K., Castilla-Earls, A., & Higginbotham, J. (2019). Diagnostic Decisions in Child Language Assessment: Findings From a Case Review Assessment Task. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 50(3), 385-398. doi:10.1044/2019_lshss-18-0044

Maloney, E. S., & Larrivee, L. S. (2007). Limitations of Age-Equivalent Scores in Reporting the Results of Norm-Referenced Tests. Contemporary Issues in Communication Science and Disorders, 34(Fall), 86-93. doi:10.1044/cicsd_34_f_86

Prath, S. (2019). Using Informal Measures to Separate Language Impairment From Language Influence When Working With Diverse Students. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 4(5), 1121-1127. doi:10.1044/2019_pers-sig16-2019-0002

Power-Defur, L., & Flynn, P. (2012). Unpacking the Standards for Intervention. Perspectives on School-Based Issues, 13(1), 11-16. doi:10.1044/sbi13.1.11

Wilson, K. S., Blackmon, R. C., Hall, R. E., & Elcholtz, G. E. (1991). Methods of Language Assessment. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 22(4), 236-241. doi:10.1044/0161-1461.2204.236

ASHA Practice Portal: Assessment Tools, Techniques, and Data Sources:

The Informed SLP:


The contents of this episode are not meant to replace clinical advice.  SLP Nerdcast, its hosts and guests do not represent or endorse specific products or procedures mentioned during our episodes unless otherwise stated.  We are NOT PhDs, but we do research our material.  We do our best to provide a thorough review and fair representation of each topic that we tackle.  That being said, it is always likely that there is an article we’ve missed, or another perspective that isn’t shared.  If you have something to add to the conversation, please email us! Wed love to hear from you!