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,
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
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?