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Course Description & Learning Outcomes

What if I told you that there was a world where your assessment aimed to understand a child's ability to learn and not just what they know right now?  There is! And it’s welcoming you, with cake and sandwiches.   The field of speech-language pathology has long depended on static, standardized, norm-referenced assessments to diagnose and support intervention needs for children with communication challenges.  While these “formal” assessments certainly have their place in our field, research and clinical evidence supports dynamic assessment (DA) procedures as a true game changer.  This week’s episode (Part 1 of a Series on DA) challenges us to put down the flip book and test protocol (or at least nudge it over a bit on the speech table) and make room for DA measures that open the door to understanding the way a child learns.  

Joining Kate and Amy in welcoming the dynamic duo, Dr. Trina Spencer and Dr. Doug Peterson, who share their knowledge and passion about all that DA has to offer clinical practice. This episode has a little something for everyone, including some revolutionary ideas on the validity of DA to answer many clinical questions, perhaps even better than a static measure. Listen in and learn about the differences between outcomes with static and dynamic assessment methods, the pros and cons of each, and some tips and tricks for using standardized DA methods to get stellar data that can offer a wealth of valid and practical treatment planning and diagnostic information. And of course, it wouldn’t be an SLP Nerdcast episode without a food analogy, so tune in for some “cake” and “sandwiches” to satisfy your nerdy assessment appetite. Bon appetit!

You can learn more about Trina and Doug here.

Summary Written by Tanna Neufeld, MS, CCC-SLP, Contributing Editor

Learning Outcomes

  1. Explain the theoretic basis of dynamic assessment.

  2. Explain the differences between static and dynamic assessment.

  3. Describe three dynamic assessment formats that SLPs can use.

Course Presenters

Trina Spencer, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Dr. Spencer is an Associate Professor at the Rightpath Research & Innovation Center at University of South Florida. She earned a specialist degree in School Psychology and a PhD in Disability Disciplines with emphases in language and literacy and early childhood special education. Her publications and editorial service span a number of disciplines including applied behavior analysis, speech-language pathology, early childhood education, special education, applied linguistics, and school psychology. Benefitting from strong collaborations with practitioners and other researchers, Dr. Spencer maintains a spirited research agenda to improve the academic and social outcomes of the nation’s most vulnerable students.

Doug Petersen, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Douglas Petersen is a Professor in the Department of Communication Disorders at Brigham Young University. His research focuses on child language and literacy, with a particular emphasis on learning potential. His psychometric research examines the validity and reliability of dynamic assessments and progress monitoring procedures for language and literacy. His intervention research is focused on examining the efficacy, effectiveness, and implementation of multi-tiered systems of language support.


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

Dr. Petersen financial disclosures: Dr. Petersen is a co-authors of the Story Champs curriculum and PEARL dynamic assessment. They receive royalties from the sales of those items. Dr. Petersen has no financial relationships to disclose.

Dr. Spencer financial disclosures: Dr. Spencer is a co-authors of the Story Champs curriculum and PEARL dynamic assessment. They receive royalties from the sales of those items. Dr. Spencer has no financial relationships to disclose.

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:  Amy is an employee of a public school system and co-founder for 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. 


Kramer, & Mallett, & Schneider, Phyllis & Hayward, Denyse. (2009). Dynamic Assessment of narratives with Grade 3 children in a First Nations community. Canadian Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. 33. 119-128. 

Peña, E. D., Gillam, R. B., & Bedore, L. M. (2014). Dynamic assessment of narrative ability in English accurately identifies language impairment in English language learners. Journal of speech, language, and hearing research : JSLHR, 57(6), 2208–2220.

Peña, E. D., Gillam, R. B., Malek, M., Ruiz-Felter, R., Resendiz, M., Fiestas, C., & Sabel, T. (2006). Dynamic Assessment of School-Age Children’s Narrative Ability: An Experimental Investigation of Classification Accuracy. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 49(5), 1037-1057. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2006/074)

Peña, E., & Iglesias, A. (1992). The Application of Dynamic Methods to Language Assessment. The Journal of Special Education, 26(3), 269-280. doi:10.1177/002246699202600304

Peña, E. D., Reséndiz, M., & Gillam, R. B. (2007). The role of clinical judgements of modifiability in the diagnosis of language impairment. Advances in Speech Language Pathology, 9(4), 332-345. doi:10.1080/14417040701413738

Petersen, D. B., Chanthongthip, H., Ukrainetz, T. A., Spencer, T. D., & Steeve, R. W. (2017). Dynamic Assessment of Narratives: Efficient, Accurate Identification of Language Impairment in Bilingual Students. Journal of speech, language, and hearing research : JSLHR, 60(4), 983–998.

Petersen, D. B., Gillam, S. L., Spencer, T., & Gillam, R. B. (2010). The effects of literate narrative intervention on children with neurologically based language impairments: an early stage study. Journal of speech, language, and hearing research : JSLHR, 53(4), 961–981.

Ukrainetz, T. A., Harpell, S., Walsh, C., & Coyle, C. (2000). A Preliminary Investigation of Dynamic Assessment With Native American Kindergartners. Language, speech, and hearing services in schools, 31(2), 142–154.

Wolter, J. A., & Pike, K. (2015). Dynamic Assessment of Morphological Awareness and Third-Grade Literacy Success. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 46(2), 112-126. doi:10.1044/2015_lshss-14-0037

Time Ordered Agenda:

10 minutes: Introduction, Disclaimers and Disclosures

20 minutes:  Descriptions of the theoretic basis of dynamic assessment.

15 minutes:  Descriptions of the differences between static and dynamic assessment.

10 minutes:  Descriptions of the dynamic assessment formats that SLPs can use

5 minutes: Summary and Closing


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!


Summary Written by Tanna Neufeld, MS, CCC-SLP, Contributing Editor

Key Terms and Additional Information provided by Maria De Leon, MS, CCC-SLP, Contributing Editor

Audio File Editing provided by Caitlan Akier, MA, CCC-SLP/L, Contributing Editor

Promotional Content provided by Ashley Sturgis, MA, CCC-SLP, Contributing Editor 

Web Editing provided by Sinead Rogazzo, MS, CCC-SLP, Contributing Editor


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