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A New Student

well into the year at this point. I finally have a schedule. I have a routine.
Everything fits! And just like that, a request to evaluate a new student who
will need TOD/HOH (Teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing) support. So long,
established schedule!

what does a comprehensive initial evaluation look like? How do we determine
services for a student we don’t really know? Here are the techniques and tools
that I use.

start by gathering background information. I look at:

recent audiological testing

the current IEP or 504

any academic, speech and language, psychological
and/or pragmatic testing

reading and written language testing

are all valuable tools in getting a picture of the student’s academic and
audiological profile. Sometimes not all of this information is available and in
those cases, I use whatever I’m able to gather. Not only do I evaluate scores, I
also look for patterns of errors, especially verbal and non-verbal
discrepancies in the psych testing (see my earlier post on testing here for more

next step is to talk with the family and find out their areas of concern. These
tend to be based on academic, social or advocacy issues—and sometimes a
combination of all three.

I reach out to school staff who are familiar with the student, as they can also
provide valuable anecdotal data on how the student performs in school. I especially
like to talk with the classroom teacher and SLP. If it’s still quite early in
the school year, a teacher from the previous school year may also be able to provide
valuable insight, as they may know the student better than a teacher who has
only worked with this student for a few weeks.

my main goal is to determine why there is a request for services now when there hasn’t been a need
observed in the past. Perhaps the student’s grades are falling; maybe they are
withdrawing socially or refusing to use amplification; maybe the student is new
to the district. To get a clearer picture, I like to have all adults who work
with the student complete the SIFTER  and
the teacher portion of the LIFE-R, which
I can then analyze. For students in preschool through grade four, the advocacy checklist can put age appropriate
expectations into perspective for teachers.

I observe the student in the classroom, I am watching to see how they use their
amplification. Does the student self-advocate and if so, when? And how? Does
the student interact with peers? How does the student respond when directions
are given? Does the teacher use visual supports? How are group discussions
facilitated and how does the student with hearing loss participate? When
possible, I like to see work samples as well.

I like to meet with the student to get their perspective. Completing theLIFE-R student version together can help me get
information about access, and also understand my student’s feelings about their
hearing loss and amplification. I also ask general questions about school and
related activities.

I have a complete picture, I am able to compile all my data into a report with
service recommendations. Service delivery grids such as this one can be useful in justifying recommendations.
Providing a comprehensive picture of the student and their individual needs
based on observations, as well as the data acquired from the various tools
listed, is far more convincing when making a recommendation than a simple
observation without this additional information.

What other tools do you use when evaluating new students?

Hear Me Out

The Hear Me Out blog provides unique resources for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. It's a forum for itinerant teachers of the deaf to share their experiences as they grow as professionals! It is produced by Clarke's Mainstream Services team as part of our mission to support children with hearing loss and the professionals who serve them.

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About the Hear Me Out Blog

Itinerant teachers of the deaf (TOD) provide direct services to children with hearing loss in mainstream schools, consultation to their teachers, and professional development to school staff. Itinerant TODs travel to a child’s neighborhood school to provide one-on-one educational support, foster listening and spoken language development, and help children build social and self-advocacy skills. They also act as a liaison between the family and their mainstream school. Hear Me Out provides a unique forum for these special teachers to share their experiences as they grow as professionals.

Hear Me Out is produced by Mainstream Services at Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech as part of our mission to support children with hearing loss and the professionals who serve them.


For self-advocacy IEP goals, I use the pre/post tests from Knowledge is Power in order to get numbers for the PLAFFP. I also have a student name as many parts of their technology as possible then I see how many parts they can point to when I name the rest. Again, that gives a nice number for the PLAFFP. EX: The student could name 2/6 parts of their FM system.

Heather Stinson

KIP is a great resource! And incorporating expressive and receptive components into your assessment is also important. Thanks for sharing 🙂

Heather Stinson

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Hear Me Out Blog

About the Author

Heather Stinson (CAGS, MED, S/LP-A) received her master’s degree in Education of the Deaf from Smith College in 2006 and a graduate certificate in Children, Families, and Schools (with a concentration in research methodology) from the University of Massachusetts in 2012. In addition to her many years of experience working with children with hearing loss who communicate using listening and spoken language, Heather has also worked as a preschool classroom teacher.

Heather has presented both locally and nationally on issues related to mainstreaming students with hearing loss and is a contributing author to Odyssey magazine. Heather currently works as an itinerant teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing at Clarke Mainstream Services, a program of Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech.

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