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SLP Corner: Help for Itinerant Evaluators

by Annie Doyle, CCC-SLP
I remember attending a conference at Stockton State College in NJ, back in the late 1980s or early 1990s presented by Dr. Wayne Secord.  I couldn’t tell you the topic, however, I do recall Dr. Secord saying something along the lines of “Today, multidisciplinary means come together-go apart when it should mean come together-stay together.”  That sentiment has remained with me all these years. At the time the truth of this struck me like a lightening bolt. Twenty-five or so years later, this idea, by and large, still rings true, though despite our best efforts, the time we need for collaboration is sadly limited. We are overwhelmed by staggering caseload numbers, case management responsibilities, massive paperwork requirements, meetings, playground duty and more. In concert with our general duties come more and more highly involved students presenting with academic and medical challenges that require the need for continuing education and research. Never has the need for consistent collaboration been more crucial. 

I am fortunate in that I work in one building.  I have the luxury of having a quick conversation on the run. I also have the benefit of knowing the students in my building, however, the inability to professionally connect becomes an issue when working as an itinerant SLP or evaluator. Recently, several of my colleagues expressed concern that itinerant evaluators may not have the inside scoop on students and subsequently their testing may not paint an accurate picture of our students. As a result, I decided to create a document that could be completed by a classroom teacher or case manager and given to an evaluator as a means of having a better understanding of the dynamics of a student.  I based some of the criteria on the Habits of Mind (HoM), but also included general information such as the types of prompting the student responds to best, preferred reinforcement, response speed, signs of fatigue or frustration, ways to redirect the student, whether breaks are needed and the preferred type of break. The document also includes demographic information and opportunities to incorporate work samples and class schedule.

The HoM present a way to think about the way students learn and are, to a large extent, a determinant in academic success or failure. The HoM include persistence, managing impulsivity, listening with understanding and empathy, thinking flexibly, metacognition, striving for accuracy, questioning, applying past knowledge, thinking and communicating with clarity,  gathering data through the senses, creating and imagining, responding with wonderment and awe, taking responsible risks, finding humor, thinking interdependently, and remaining open to continuous learning. Having an understanding of a child’s ability to manage impulsivity perhaps, or task persistence paints a more complete picture for an evaluator.  Such knowledge would allow an evaluator to say, schedule movement breaks or encourage a child to take risks when responding.  The upshot is, the information obtained could yield more accurate test results. I am hoping that this document provides evaluators with greater insight when interpreting test results as well as improving the accuracy of those results.
Download Habits of Mind and the Student Information for Evaluators from the Doyle Speech Works Blog
About the Author:  Annie Doyle, CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist living and working in Plymouth, New Hampshire. Originally, from Franklin Lakes Lakes, NJ, Annie has been working in the schools for 30 years. She received a B.A from William Paterson University in 1983 and an M.A. From Montclair State University in 1986. You can read her blog at

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