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Course Description and Learning Outcomes

In what is becoming a common occurrence around the SLP Nerdcast virtual office, the reading and research we conducted to prepare for an episode presented us with a wealth of information that refused to be condensed into a single hour.  Initially driven by a listener’s question - we trundled off into the weeds of assessments.  Why do we do them? Are standardized, norm-referenced or criterion-referenced tools required?  What really makes up a quality assessment?  These questions and more bounced around in our brains until we read enough to feel somewhat satisfied.

In this episode we continue our earlier conversation, where we focused heavily on standardized assessments - particularly norm-referenced standardized assessments.  Here, we will cover equally, or possibly even more, important non-standardized measures.  What are they?  Why should you use them?  What considerations should enter into the decision making process when getting ready to assess a client?  

Listen in to find the answers to these questions, and more.  As always, we’ve shared our references below, so you too can read more of the sources we found to be particularly helpful in answering our assessment - related questions.

ASHA Professional Development hours are offered for this course (1 certification maintenance hour). Visit our ASHA Professional Development page for more information.

  1. State 3 potential functions of a comprehensive assessment
  2. Describe the difference between a norm-referenced and criterion-referenced assessment 
  3. Identify at least 3 components that should be considered within a comprehensive assessment

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:  Discussion of the functions of the comprehensive assessment

15 minutes:   Discussion of the different qualities / parameters of criterion referenced assessments and how that compares to norm-referenced assessments

10 minutes: Discussion of components that should be considered within the comprehensive assessment

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. (n.d.). Assessment Tools, Techniques, and Data Sources. Retrieved August 29, 2020, from

ASHA Practice Portal - Clinical Topics. (n.d.). Intellectual Disability. Retrieved August 29, 2020, from

Rowland, C., PhD. (n.d.). Communication Matrix: Description, Research Basis and Data. Retrieved August 29, 2020, from


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! We'd love to hear from you!