Every Wednesday, I’m part of a team that completes preschool assessments. Whenever I post about the assessments on social media I get questions about assessments, ideas, timing, etc. Today, I’m starting to share those details!
How do children qualify for Preschool Services?
In the state of Ohio, children transition out of Help Me Grow (Birth to Three Program) and into school provided services by their 3rd birthday. In my area, most schools provide those services directly through early childhood education programs that are run by the school district.
To qualify for special needs preschool, children must have one qualifying area of delay that is severe or two areas of moderate delay. Children are referred for evaluation through Help Me Grow or they are a community referral. HMG referrals are always children who are 2 years 8 months to 2 years 11 months. Community referrals are any child ages 3-6. Children often qualify for services and then begin school with us on their third birthday.
What are the service models for your preschool?
Our preschool has regular education classrooms (8 peers, 8 IEP students), special education classrooms (8 IEP students), and itinerant services. We have 13 classrooms in our program. Four of those classrooms are for our Connections program for students who need more support and nine classrooms are half-day programs.
Related service staff are assigned classrooms and all therapy services are push-in. Currently, all of my students receive speech therapy twice per week.
How do you complete assessments?
Every child who is evaluated participates in a play-based assessment. The play-based team includes a psychologist, SLP, OT, intervention specialists, PT, and APE teacher. Two families are evaluated each week. The psychologist completes a home visit prior to the play-based session. The morning of the assessment, two students and their parents come into our school and we conduct assessments a classroom set up for evals. We bring 4 peers from the other classrooms to join the students. We allow them to play for 30 minutes in the classroom, while we facilitate different opportunities to observe and collect data. At this time I use my play-based observation forms (available on TpT and pictured above). Immediately following, we complete individual assessments with the OT, PT, SLP and APE teacher. Immediately following the assessments we complete evaluation team meetings.
What assessments do you give?
My district has developed a criterion-referenced assessment that we use with each student.
We also have a variety of assessments that I use to gather standardized information.
Those assessments include:
Preschool Language Scales – 5th Edition (PLS-5)
Clinical Assessment of Articulation and Phonology – 2 (CAAP-2)
Receptive Expressive Emergent Language Test -3 (REEL-3)
Fluharty Preschool Speech and Language Screening Test Second Edition (Fluharty -2)
Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals Preschool 2nd Edition (CELF-P2)
Early Functional Communication Profile Set
Kaufman Speech Praxis Test (KSPT)
We write our evals throughout the week and then hold the IEP meetings 1.5 weeks later (every Monday). I write all initial IEPs and then the caseload is split between three SLPs. With 2 evaluations per week, extras, re-evaluations, and summer evals we completed 100 evaluations last year! It’s busy! What does your evaluation team look like for preschool? Do you have any other questions about the preschool evaluations?
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I always enjoy your blog posts. In assessing 3-4 year olds, would you go with the PLS-5 or the CELF P 2?
I usually go with the PLS since it is play-based. I usually use the CELFp2 with 5 year olds.
Does your team also do a team screening process prior to the assessment? What does your pre-assessment process look like?
Good questions! We have someone who does the intakes. She reviews the concerns and sends home an ASQ survey. She determines if there is a suspected disability and signs the paperwork. She consults with team members as needed to identify needs. I created a phono questionnaire that she uses. She does a great job. Occasionally I do a separate screening before we send them on to the full play-based.
What screening tool do you use. We are being asked to do a “child directed” “play-based” screening. She doesn’t want us doing anything structured, use pictures, or have the child seated at a table. We feel a formal screening gives us the most information, in a brief amount of time. We also do some “free play”/observation of the children. Does your whole team do stations during screening?
Lisa Neal says
We also do play-based assessments with our preschool students. We use Toni Linder’s Transdisciplinary Play-Based Assessment tool in addition to many of the same standardized tools that you use.
Our curriculum based assessment is based on the Linder assessment information. Sounds like we are using the same tools!
I’m an EC SLP in Illinois and we also conduct play based assessment and are looking to implement Toni Linder’s TPBA. Do you use her materials to gather a qualifying score or do you use them to gather information which you compare against developmental and to help you write more specific goals?
Can you give me some feed back about the length of time it takes to complete the Transdiciplinary Play Based Assessment? My district is looking to switch to this tool but are concerned about the length of time it may take to “administer”?
We are a much smaller program, but similar in many ways. It’s just me, the school psychologist, and preschool service coordinator who conduct initial evaluations. We typically do an initial screening appointment where I do a sp/lg screen and service coordinator does the BDI-2 screener. Unless it’s an involved case from TEIS (Tn Early Intervention Services-Birth to 3)-no catchy title like your state-then we just start evaluating. We do a classroom observation/play-based in one of our two developmental preschool classrooms, then pull to eval the 5 DD areas. I use the PLS-5 for all the littles, or the CELF2-Preschool for 5 year olds. And Goldman-Fristoe for artic. Service coordinator does questionnaires and parent interview while myself or school psych are testing. We tag team and usually need two appointments to get everything completed. We have a 60 calendar day timeline to complete the reports/IEP, and depending on how backed up we are we hold the eligibility around the 4-6 week mark. Of course, early intervention by third birthday. Our system does not offer inclusion preschool classes unfortunately, because Headstart here is run by a separate agency. We do place some students in area regular ed preschool classes and they may receive some resource and speech tx. We are contractually not allowed to work over the summer, so all summer birthdays have to be evaluated and conferenced before the last day of school—super stressful May at times. Some years we screen/test up to 100 kids, but other years it’s less than 80. Its neat to hear how other SLPs handle preschool evals. I don’t mind being on the eval team, b/c then I know the kids a bit when getting into therapy.
Our process is similar. We have a large district and I am the SLP that does the assessments with the multidisciplinary team when the child is suspected of delays in more than sp/Lang, and we have 4 other SLPs who assess sp/ Lang when that is the only concern. Our multidisciplinary team has done 105 assessments/ initial IEPs and have 40 more in process, by June we will have completed about 150.
I am an SLP who does preschool evals exclusively. I test about 250 kids each year. We have almost 40 classrooms in our district. At our center, we have 4 classrooms and our eval team. We are lucky to get to work with the same team in qualifying children with anything from Apraxia to Autism. I can’t wait to get your observation form!!
I just switched from 8 years in a K-4 school to preschool in August. This is a new world for me! We do a very similar eval day every Tuesday BUT we often need to schedule three evals in one day. Our students come back for the observation and join our special Ed classroom in progress. I am part of a large Intermediate Unit so PT, OT, etc, come only if indicated. We use the Battelle (which I am not fond of) but it does encompass all developmental domains. I do the communication piece and an artic test plus a language sample. I would love to suggest using a standardized language test but sometimes we just don’t have the time to thoroughly test as it is. We mail the ER to the parent (60 days out) and schedule an IEP meeting within 2 weeks.
I am interested in your play based observation form particularly for the kids who are noncompliant, unable to attend, or uninterested. It’s so hard to write a positive report in that situation and this looks like it might help. Something else to add to my TpT wish list!
Preschool is crazy busy, but fun! I’ve already found your resources very helpful so far. Thanks!
Ann Barry says
Do you have a phono classroom for 3 and 4 year olds in your District? If so, how does it work? Are they on a 6 week on and six week off schedule?
We don’t. Our phono kids come through our program in the classroom just like any other disability.
I am and EC SLP in Ilinois and the district prek program I work in sounds similar to yours but a little smaller. What materials did you use to create your district criterion referenced assessment? Is this what you use as a multidisciplinary assessment in addition to your individual assessment with OT/PT/SLP? We currently use the DAYC which provides us with a standard score, however, it does not provide critical information to create meaningful goals. We are looking to start implementing Toni Linder’s TPBA.
Hi Kim! I wasn’t the SLP here when they created the Criterion but it’s based on the Toni Linder info with the dev norms from the TPBA. We don’t actually use the TPBA. Each team member uses the Criterion Referenced Assessment that is district specific. Then we each use our own standardized assessments as appropriate.
Hi Jenna! Do you know how they created the criterion referenced assessment? We are wanting to do something similar in our district, but we haven’t been sure how to exactly go about this. Thanks!
It’s based on the Toni Linder work and then updated and modified yearly.
Hi, I see that you have peers & IEP students as does our program too. I’m curious how you choose peers? Are you required to be 50/50? We’ve done different things over the years without much success & consistence and I’d love to hear what others do. Thanks!
Our Regular Ed classes are 50/50. WE can’t exclude any peers so anyone in the district who applies can be a peer. This means MANY of our peers are not true peers and often need interventions and support as well.
How do you provide interventions to peers who need them before suspecting a disability? Do you work with them directly or offer strategies for the teacher to implement?
I see that you have the CAAP-2 as one of your artic tests. Is it your primary? How do you like it? We’ve used the GFTA2 for a long time and now since it has been updated I’ve been hearing complaints. I’m interested in hearing your opinion and potentially changing tests.
I don’t know… I think it overqualifies kids as severe. SO many get a <55 standard score. But I have to have a phono score to qualify in Preschool. I hear the GFTA-3 is less than stellar -- according to the facebook group members in a few I'm in. Don't know what I'm going to order for next year! Have you heard anything about the LAT?
Awe man, that’s not what I wanted to hear. That’s what I hear about the new GFTA3 and I’ve seen the same thing with incoming results of the SPATD. The last thing we need is over qualifying… I haven’t heard anything about the LAT. I’ve seen the DEAP in outside tests but haven’t used it.
Do you have any good resources for expected social communication skills at the preschool level. I have received a few reports from a local hospital that recommend social communication evaluations/therapy for preschoolers who seem typical to me. I was wondering if there are any reputable materials/norms that would help support/disprove my assumptions that these students are funcitoning within the expected range as far as social communication skills are concerned at the preschool level. (The reports mention eye contact, topic maintenance, verbal turn-taking with peers, sequencing and retelling event, etc.) Most of the tools I see are for elementary aged students, or they give me information on what the preschoolers can/cannot do, but don’t tell me whether or not they have a significant delay for their age. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!
Lisa burica says
Would it be possible for you to share the criterion reference assessment you use?
are you able to share your criterion ref assessment tool? thanks
No, because I made it with a team.
What criteria do you use to determine placement? Our program went from being entirely self contained to most sections blended with one self contained this year. We are struggling with consistent criteria to determine placement, and I’m being told “we can’t move this child to self contained because parents won’t like it,” though the child may be functioning at the level of an 18 month old across the board. Follow up: what curriculum do you use your self contained sections? Creative curriculum is all our teachers has to work with, but it’s not appropriate for the population.
Do you have a special education teacher involved as well?
Yes, an intervention specialists is involved and helps write the IEP.
I’d love to hear how this eval process has changed now that it’s 6 years later?!
Not much different, Lauren! I’m no longer in this position but until I stopped working at this program in 2020 the process was the same!