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The Science of Reading Literacy Certificate for SLPs: FAQs

In August 2021, the CEU Smart Hub (Powered by the Lavi Institute) has launched a new certificate program: The Science of Reading (SOR) Literacy Certificate for SLPs.  Because of the multitude of questions we have received in advance of the certificate rollout (Financial Disclosure: I am a 50% partner in the CEU Smart Hub/Power Up Conferences), I am writing this post today in an attempt to answer some of the commonly asked questions regarding this certification.

Who is the certificate for? The certificate is open to SLPs who are interested in gaining in-depth knowledge in the areas of assessment and treatment of children with language and literacy disorders. This certification offers not just continuing education hours in the advanced practices pertaining to the assessment and treatment of literacy but also a final examination and 2 lengthy in-depth projects requiring professionals to appropriately and comprehensively design assessment plans and treatment goals to work with literacy impaired clients. Continue reading The Science of Reading Literacy Certificate for SLPs: FAQs

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Power Up SLP Literacy Conference August 5-6, 2021

Power Up Outcomes with Evidence-Based Practice Literacy Conference Dates: August 5 and 6, 2021 worth 15 continuing education hours!

Continue reading Power Up SLP Literacy Conference August 5-6, 2021

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Review of Wordtivities by SPELL-Links

Image result for wordtivities"Today I am reviewing a newly released (2019) kit (instructional guide and cards) from the Learning By Design, Inc. entitled Wordtivities: Word Study Instruction for Spelling, Vocabulary, and Reading.

The 101-page instructional guide was created to address the students’ phonological awareness, spelling, reading, vocabulary, and syntax skills by having them engage with sounds, letters, and meanings of words. The lessons in the book can be used by a variety of instructional personnel (teachers, SLPs, reading specialists, etc.) and even parents as a stand-alone word study program or in conjunction with SPELL-Links to Reading & Writing Word Study Curriculum.

The activity book is divided into two sections. The first section offers K-12 student activities for large groups and classrooms. The second section has picture card activities and is intended for 1:1 and small group instruction. Both sections focus on reinforcing 14 SPELL-Links strategies for reading and spelling to stimulate the associations between sounds, letters, and meanings of words. Continue reading Review of Wordtivities by SPELL-Links

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Comprehensive Assessment of Elementary Aged Children with Subtle Language and Literacy Deficits

Image result for confused childrenLately, I’ve been seeing more and more posts on social media asking for testing suggestions for students who exhibit subtle language-based difficulties. Many of these children are typically referred for initial assessments or reassessments as part of advocate/attorney involved cases, while others are being assessed due to the parental insistence that something “is not quite right” with their language and literacy abilities, even in the presence of “good grades.” Continue reading Comprehensive Assessment of Elementary Aged Children with Subtle Language and Literacy Deficits

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Clinical Assessment of Reading Abilities of Elementary Aged Children

Image result for child readingSeveral years ago I wrote a post about how to perform clinical reading assessments of adolescent students. Today I am writing a follow-up post with a focus on the clinical reading assessment of elementary-aged students. For this purpose, I often use the books from the Continental Press series entitled: Content Reading for Geography, Social Studies, & Science.   Texts for grades 2-7 of the series are perfect for assessment of struggling elementary-aged readers. Continue reading Clinical Assessment of Reading Abilities of Elementary Aged Children

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Neuropsychological or Language/Literacy: Which Assessment is Right for My Child?

Related imageSeveral years ago I began blogging on the subject of independent assessments in speech pathology. First, I wrote a post entitled “Special Education Disputes and Comprehensive Language Testing: What Parents, Attorneys, and Advocates Need to Know“, in which I used  4 different scenarios to illustrate the importance of comprehensive language evaluations for children with subtle language and learning needs. Then I wrote about: What Makes an Independent Speech-Language-Literacy Evaluation a GOOD Evaluation?” in order to elucidate on what actually constitutes a good independent comprehensive assessment. Continue reading Neuropsychological or Language/Literacy: Which Assessment is Right for My Child?

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Clinical Fellow (and Setting-Switching SLPs) Survival Guide in the Schools

Related image It’s early August, and that means that the start of a new school year is just around the corner.  It also means that many newly graduated clinical fellows (as well as SLPs switching their settings) will begin their exciting yet slightly terrifying new jobs working for various school systems around the country.  Since I was recently interviewing clinical fellows myself in my setting (an outpatient school located in a psychiatric hospital, run by a university), I decided to write this post in order to assist new graduates, and setting-switching professionals by describing what knowledge and skills are desirable to possess when working in the schools. Continue reading Clinical Fellow (and Setting-Switching SLPs) Survival Guide in the Schools

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Helpful Smart Speech Therapy Site Searching Tips

Related imageOver the years this blog has amassed many posts on a variety of topics pertaining to the assessment and treatment in speech-language pathology. With over 300 posts and over 130 search categories it’s no wonder that some of you have reached out to ask about effective ways of finding relevant information quickly. As such, in addition to the existing categories pertaining to specific topics (e.g., writing, social communication, etc.) I have created two specific categories which were asked about by numerous blog subscribers in recent emails. Continue reading Helpful Smart Speech Therapy Site Searching Tips

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How Early can “Dyslexia” be Diagnosed in Children?

Image result for dyslexiaIn recent years there has been a substantial rise in awareness pertaining to reading disorders in young school-aged children. Consequently, more and more parents and professionals are asking questions regarding how early can “dyslexia” be diagnosed in children.

In order to adequately answer this question, it is important to understand the trajectory of development of literacy disorders in children. Continue reading How Early can “Dyslexia” be Diagnosed in Children?

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Part IV: Components of Comprehensive Dyslexia Testing – Writing and Spelling

Recently I began writing a series of posts on the topic of comprehensive assessment of dyslexia.

In part I of my post (HERE), I discussed common dyslexia myths as well as general language testing as a starting point in the dyslexia testing battery.

In part II (HEREI detailed the next two steps in dyslexia assessment: phonological awareness and word fluency testing.

In part III  (HEREI discussed reading fluency and reading comprehension testing.

Today I would like to discuss part IV of comprehensive dyslexia assessment, which involves spelling and writing testing.

Spelling errors can tell us a lot about the child’s difficulties, which is why they are an integral component of dyslexia assessment battery.   There is a significant number of linguistic skills involved in spelling.   Good spellers  have well-developed abilities in the following areas (Apel 2006, Masterson 2014, Wasowicz, 2015):

  1. Phonological Awareness – segmenting, sequencing, identifying and discriminating sounds in words.
  2. Orthographic Knowledge – knowledge of alphabetic principle, sound-letter relationships; letter patterns and conventional spelling rules
  3. Vocabulary Knowledge -knowledge of word meanings and how they can affect spelling
  4. Morphological Knowledge- knowledge of “word parts”: suffixes, prefixes, base words, word roots, etc.; understanding the semantic relationships between base word and related words; knowing how to make appropriate modifications when adding prefixes and suffixes
  5. Mental Orthographic Images of Words- clear and complete mental representations of words or word parts

By administering and analyzing spelling test results  or  spelling samples and quizzes,  we can determine where students’  deficits lie,  and design appropriate interventions  to improve knowledge and skills in the affected areas.

twsWhile there are a number of spelling assessments currently available on the market  I personally prefer that the  Test of Written Spelling – 5 (TWS-5) (Larsen, Hammill & Moats, 2013). The  TWS-5  can be administered to students 6-18 years of age in about 20 minutes in either individual or group settings. It has two forms, each containing 50 spelling words drawn from eight basal spelling series and graded word lists. You can use the results in several ways: to identify students with significant spelling deficits or to determine progress in spelling as a result of RTI interventions.

Now,  lets  move on to assessments of writing.   Here, we’re looking to assess a number of abilities,  which include:

  • Mechanics – is there appropriate use of punctuation, capitalization, abbreviations, etc.?
  • Grammatical and syntactic complexity – are there word/sentence level errors/omissions? How is the student’s sentence structure?
  • Semantic sophistication-use of appropriate vs. immature vocabulary
  • Productivity – can the student generate  enough paragraphs, sentences, etc. or?
  • Cohesion and coherence-  Is the writing sample organized? Does it flow smoothly? Does it make sense? Are the topic shifts marked by appropriate transitional words?
  •  Analysis – can the student edit and revise his writing appropriately?

Again it’s important to note that much like the assessments of reading comprehension  there are no specific tests which can assess this area adequately and comprehensively.  Here, a combination of standardized tests, informal assessment tasks as well as analysis of the students’ written classroom output is recommended.

TEWL-3_EM-159

For standardized assessment purposes clinicians can select Test of Early Written Language–Third Edition (TEWL–3) or Test of Written Language — Fourth Edition  (TOWL-4)

The TEWL-3 for children 4-12 years of age, takes on average 40 minutes to administer (between 30-50 mins.) and examines the following skill areas:

Basic Writing. This subtest consists of 70 items ordered by difficulty, which are scored as 0, 1, or 2. It measures a child’s understanding of language including their metalinguistic knowledge, directionality, organizational structure, awareness of letter features, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, proofing, sentence combining, and logical sentences. It can be administered independently or in conjunction with the Contextual Writing subtest.

Contextual Writing. This subtest consists of 20 items that are scored 0 to 3. Two sets of pictures are provided, one for younger children (ages 5-0 through 6-11) and one for older children (ages 7-0 through 11-11). This subtest measures a child’s ability to construct a story given a picture prompt. It measures story format, cohesion, thematic maturity, ideation, and story structure. It can be administered independently or in conjunction with the Basic Writing subtest.

Overall Writing. This index combines the scores from the Basic Writing and Contextual Writing subtests. It is a measure of the child’s overall writing ability; students who score high on this quotient demonstrate strengths in composition, syntax, mechanics, fluency, cohesion, and the text structure of written language. This score can only be computed if the child completes both subtests and is at least 5 years of age.

TOWL-4_EM-147The TOWL-4 for students 9-18 years of age, takes between 60-90 minutes to administer (often longer) and examines the following skill areas:

  1. Vocabulary – The student writes a sentence that incorporates a stimulus word. E.g.: For ran, a student writes, “I ran up the hill.”
  2. Spelling – The student writes sentences from dictation, making proper use of spelling rules.
  3. Punctuation – The student writes sentences from dictation, making proper use of punctuation and capitalization rules.
  4. Logical Sentences – The student edits an illogical sentence so that it makes better sense. E.g.:  “John blinked his nose” is changed to “John blinked his eye.”
  5. Sentence Combining – The student integrates the meaning of several short sentences into one grammatically correct written sentence. E.g.:  “John drives fast” is combined with “John has a red car,” making “John drives his red car fast.”
  6. Contextual Conventions – The student writes a story in response to a stimulus picture. Points are earned for satisfying specific arbitrary requirements relative to orthographic (E.g.: punctuation, spelling) and grammatic conventions (E.g.: sentence construction, noun-verb agreement).
  7. Story Composition – The student’s story is evaluated relative to the quality of its composition (E.g.: vocabulary, plot, prose, development of characters, and interest to the reader).

It has 3 composites:

  1. Overall Writing- results of all seven subtests
  2. Contrived Writing- results of 5 contrived subtests
  3. Spontaneous Writing-results of 2 spontaneous writing subtests

However, for the purposes of the comprehensive assessment only select portions of the above tests may need be administered  since other overlapping areas (e.g., spelling, punctuation, etc.) may have already been assessed by other tests, a analyzed via the review of student’s written classroom assignments or were encompassed by educational testing.