Our guest host tonight, Wed. March 20, 2002, is Dr. Nancy Creaghead. She will be chatting
with us about IEPs and report writing. Nancy Creaghead, Ph.D., CCC/SLP is Professor and Head
of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Cincinnati.
She is responsible for teaching in the areas of language acquisition and intervention.
Dr. Creaghead has had previous experience in preschool classes for language impaired and
hearing impaired children and in a special school for learning disabled children. Her research,
publications and presentations have been primarily in the areas of language acquisition and
disorders and classroom communication. Dr. Creaghead is also a speech-language pathologist in
private practice. She has served as ASHA's vice president for professional practices in
speech-language pathology, was a Legislative Councilor for six years, was president of the
Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders and the Ohio Speech-
Language-Hearing Association, and has provided over 275 workshops, conference presentations,
and publications for the benefit of her colleagues. Dr. Creaghead's newest role is as
President of ASHA.
<Robin> We are chatting tonight with Nancy Creaghead, Ph.D., CCC/SLP, about IEPs and report writing.
<Robin> Thank you for joining us tonight, Nancy!
<Nancy> I am happy to be here to talk about these issues that are important to folks who are workingin the schools.
<Nancy> Hi everyone. Thanks for inviting me.
<Nancy> I am interested in knowing what is concerning folks in regard to paper work concerns in their state and districts
as we want to do what we can to reduce paper work through IDEA.
<Robin> Deena, Sherri, and anon, are you currently working in the schools?
<Deena> yes..I am in the schools!
<Nancy> My view is that all of us must be advocates for streamlining the requirements as much as possible at the state and
local levels because the federal requirements are really not so onerous. It's what gets layered on.
<Nancy> But on the other hand, the reauthorization of IDEA gives us an opportunity to make sure that the federal requirements
are inline with what we need to do.
<Deena> I am so looking forward to writing all those IEPs. I am wondering about a descriptive element. Is a 'current status'
<Nancy> I understand that question about current status -- what we really want to focus on is the goals and intervention procedures.
<Nancy> I struggle with the way we present current status. We certainly need to know that to design intervention -- but I
think it can get in the way of in regard to time.
<Nancy> Sometimes I think we tend to focus on artificial information in regard to current status -- i.e. test scores -- if we are
going to include that, it needs to be related very closely to academic performance.
<Lorislp>Nancy is there a way to use a check list format for IEP that would streamline the process?
<Nancy> I think that is a great idea. You are on target that we need to determine what information is needed , but find away to
streamline getting the information down.
<Lorislp> On the order of...Can the child produce the information in a functional way for classroom participation?
<Nancy> In most cases, I think the way we provide the information can be up to the local or state level -- as long as it meets the
very general requirements of IDEA.
<Robin> Nancy, can you elaborate on the federal requirements?
<Nancy> Well, the federal requirements indicate that we must include the following:
<Nancy> present levels of performance
<Nancy> intervention strategies --
<Nancy> And the intervention strategies must include when or how long, who and where.
<Nancy> BUT my view is that we must be as general as possible in describing the who, where, and when so that we can modify what we
do to meet the needs of the child.
<Robin> Is that acceptable in most schools?
<Lorislp> good question
<Nancy> My view is that it should be!! We have to be advocates for being able to write IEPs that give us flexibility to do what we
believe is best for each child at each point in time.
<Lucy> Fitting APA standards into IEP's where students are performing at age 2 when they are 14 is very difficult.
<Nancy> I agree with Lucy's concern! That is the kind of thing we have to argue with.
<Lucy> Where I used to be VERY specific in goal writing I am finding also that it is best to be general in order to expand when necessary.
<Robin> good point
<Lucy> Finding goals that are appropriate for my severe CP students with no eye gaze, no verbal communication, no gestures, and no auditory
response is my problem.. that to me is more of a concern versus what the federal government requires.
<Nancy> Are you saying that you need to find academic goals for these children?
<Lucy> Yes we need to put academic goals in the IEPs for these students, i.e., a math goal for a blind, hearing impaired (who won't wear aids).
<Nancy> I agree with Lucy's last point. I think that we will force ourselves into doing things that are not best for the child if we are specific.
<Deena> I am asked to identify type of groups (integrated or pull out) the spring before, classes are set up in the middle school for the following Sept.
<Nancy> I would argue against a requirement to specify a type of group. I would like to be able to write "integrated or pullout" on the IEP.
<SherriJ> Our Special Ed. coop hired a lawyer to convince us all to write very specific goals or face future lawsuits.
<Nancy> What kind of goals did the lawyer want? The GOAL is for the child to succeed academically!!
<Nancy> This is what really makes it difficult to meet the needs of the child. We have to find a balance between goals that give us flexibility--
those that are tied to the curriculum and those that meet the law.
<Deena> Sometimes I am caught with a student who is not in a class with other S/L kids on my caseload and the schedule itself is hard to comply with.
<Nancy> I understand the time schedule issues and problems, but I don't want the IEP to tie us down even more.
<Nancy> What I want to be able to do is pull the child out if that is best for a given week or go into the classroom another day or week.
<Lucy> An IEP should be a workable document not set in stone... if you limit yourself you hurt the children...
<Lucy> Can't you put individual/group in your IEP?
<Deena> I have done that and I was asked to be more difinitive. I wrote both in some cases.
<Deena> I thought that it would better to give myself choice the next year.
<Nancy> Lucy, I agree that we should be able to put both on the IEP -- I would really fight for that.
<Lucy> As therapists .. don't we all cover more than one goal when working on a specific task anyway?
<Lorislp> Nancy, is this a problem that you find across the country in different states or just specific ones?
<Nancy> I definitely find this problem across the country, but the interesting thing is that in every state, I find that districts differ so much.
<Nancy> I will hear someone say that "the state requires that we . . . . ." and then a person from another district will say , "We dont have to do that"
<Lucy> When you are told that you must make up the student's session when you are absent or have a professional day or IEP or other responsibility, you need
to have the option to group students or it is impossible.
<Nancy> Lucy I agree! But it isn't only that -- it's also being able to do what that child needs on a given day. What if he needs to work on a specific
sound on one day -- and have a context to practice some pragmatic skills on another.
<Lucy> Yes, that is why if you can indicate ind./group you are covered.
<Nancy> Lucy I agree. I just can't imagine writing down only one service delivery model on an IEP.
<Nancy> Deena I'm glad to see you say that you are looking at giving yourself a choice. I assume yoare thinking that this will work in your district.
<Nancy> So it seems to me that we can really have an impact at the local district.
<Lorislp> This means that we need to be proactive in our state organizations.
<Nancy> Yea -- for the active in our state associations!!!
<Nancy> I do think that our state associations can help us at the state level -- but we are the ones to do it at the district level.
<Lorislp> Is anyone else finding these same difficulties in your districts and schools?
<Connie> Yes, we are finding the same problems in my district. Our present levels are geared to the curriculum
<Nancy> I'm wondering how present levels of performance are being described out there? by tests or by reference to the curriculum?
<Nancy> I am so crazed about the need for us to move toward tying what we do more closely to the curriculum -- and especially literacy.
<Nancy> We have so much to offer in regard to supporting the language bases of literacy -- and isn't that a primary goal for children in school?
<SherriJ> Nancy, in our district we use tests
<SherriJ> However, I agree with you.
<Nancy> I know that we have used tests primarily, but hope that we can be a force to change that.
<Nancy> I sure would like to see districts move away from that and talk about academic peformance -- you have my support if you try to change it.
<anonymous> I can't imagine even thinking about changing the way my district special education department is advised to operate by our SELPA,
best practices and attorneys. Our special ed. director makes the directives and we try to do our best to explain our profession to her.
<Lorislp> When I was in the school system, I found that my activities taught reading..in spite of my speech goals.
<Nancy> I agree that what we do can often support literacy -- if we think about it, it can be even stronger.
<Nancy> Anon, are you advised to use tests?
<SherriJ> I know we have been advised to use test scores so that we can "measure" improvement.
<Nancy> I think this is such a bind for us, Sherri. Tests give us a measurable score, but what do they really tell us about the child's success
in school? -- I mean language tests.
<Deena> We use tests and academic performance/functional observations in the classroom.
<Nancy> So, Deena could you give up the tests and just use the latter? Would that fly?
<Nancy> Especially if we find a way to make it measureable?
<Nancy> Although of course academic performance in itself is measureable!!
<Deena> I actually like some testing. Yes, I would get support doing minimal testing.
<Nancy> Go for it~!
<Nancy> What do you feel that the testing gives you?
<Nancy> I know I am way out there on the nontest side, but I struggle with what they really tell us about the child's functioning -- again I know
I am on the extreme on my view here and that others may not agree.
<Lorislp> I don't know of any therapist who wouldn't give up the first 2 months of testing the caseload before starting therapy.
<Nancy> My colleague, Wayne Secord, who is an author of the CELF and other popular tests really questions the value of them today.
<anonymous> The only formal testing I do is for the initial, triennial and dismissal (as required by the district).
<Nancy> Anon, so could your district give that up in favor of you observing in the classroom and giving checklists or interviewing teachers?
<anonymous> Possibly. Lately I have been questioning the correspondence of our current tests with school standards.
<Lorislp> A test is easier to report than a description of the child's performance in a classroom setting.
<Deena> I sometimes think that my kids are functioning a bit higher...I like to compare the norms just to see where they are, lets say with problem
solving... maybe personality is strong and masks performance.
<Nancy> I see what you are saying, Deena, but just to play devil's advocate, what difference does it make if they don't problem solve in the classroom?
<Nancy> I sure question that. I even question our categorization of receptive and expressive language.
<Robin> We as a profession are fairly test oriented.....
<Nancy> Robin, we have definitely been test oriented -- and I guess I will just take this opportunity to look at a different view.
<Nancy> I went to a Summit on LD in DC sponsored by the US Dept of Education. The goal was to look at changes we might want to make in IDEA.
A major topic was discrepancy critieria.
<Robin> What do you mean by discrepancy criteria?
<Nancy> Ok about discrepancy criteria -- I am referring to qualifying children through discrepancy between language scores and IQ.
<anonymous> I have a checklist that I have teachers fill out to give an idea of their teacher's perception of that student in regards to listening,
communication and behavior.
<Robin> Thats a good idea, anon.
<anonymous> Now, I understand that IDEA now wants classroom observation as part of the assessment. Any good checklists for that?
<Nancy> Anon, I think that is a great idea -- and very useful -- and can even be made into a measurable instrument with maybe a rating scale.
<Nancy> I do have some checklists for teachers. I would be happy to share them with you.
<Lorislp> Nancy could you send a copy of the checklist for the archives of this chat?
<Nancy> Sure I can send it to you and you can put it on the archives.
<Robin> Thank you!
<anonymous> I have been tempted to buy Evaluating Communicative Competence by Charlane Simon.
<Nancy> I would buy it!
<anonymous> Have you used it? It is criterion-referenced.
<Nancy> I support criterian referenced tools rather than descripancy criteria. I have not used Charlane's measure, but know of it.
<Nancy> I think we can develop our own checklists, etc. in our districts, but why not share those that have been developed -- like Charlane's, etc. ?
<anonymous> What other tests do you use that are criterion referenced?
<Nancy> In the places where I am, we have tended to develop our own checklists/rating scales/observations by meshing those that we know of.
<Nancy> On the archives, I can provide some resources for them.
<Nancy> or even some materials as Lori suggested.
<Robin> That would be great, Nancy, since many people visit our archives who are unable to attend the chats.
<anonymous> Before this chat ends, I wanted to know how many of you have computerized IEP forms and the S&L report format?
<Nancy> I have not personally used computerized IEP forms, but I am VERY in favor of using any means to streamline paperwork -- and think technology is one answer.
<Lorislp> I have developed my own computerized S&L report.
<Nancy> As long as it doesn't mean that we go back to being too specific, but on the other hand, I think computerized materials can be general and open.
<Nancy> Lori, I certainly have used computerized reports and very much support that -- so that we don't reinvent the wheel and type or write stuff that is
redundant and repetitive.
<Nancy> Anything that can be on computer that is standardized is good to me.
<Deena> We are in the process of computerization. We have an 8 page checklist - doesn't pull up individual goals... We choose from the pageful of choices.
<Lorislp> You can number each POINT and do a find/replace to be able to input it into your reports.
<Nancy> I think that is a very logical direction for us to go. We just need to be sure we are in charge of the choices and make good choices for what is on the checklist!
<Nancy> In the end, it is what gets on the checklist that is important. WE must be in charge of that!
<Deena> Yes, I agree.
<Robin> We have been chatting for close to an hour....does anyone have any more questions for Nancy?
<Deena> Thank you, Nancy. I will check for the checklist in the archives!
<anonymous> Thanks, it has been interesting. Thanks for the networking and info.
<Nancy> Thanks everyone for your comments. I really enjoyed interacting with you.
<Robin> Thank you, Nancy, for taking the time to join us!
<Lorislp> Thank you, Nancy, for joining us.
<Nancy> Remember -- FLEXIBLE IEPs!!
<Robin> Goodnight all and thanks for joining us!
Here is an example checklist developed by Wayne Secord. You can design something similar or adapt this one to meet your own situation and needs.
Johnson, C. (1995). "Expanding norms for narration." Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools 26: 326-341.
Nippold, M. (1995). "Children and adolescents: Norms for word definition." Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools 26: 320-325.
Norris, J. (1995). "Expanding language norms for school-age children and adolescents: Is it pragmatic?" Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools 26: 342-352.
Scott, C., Stokes, S. (1995). "Measures of syntax in school-age children and adolescents." Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools 26: 309-319.
Merritt, D. D., Culatta, B. (1998). Language Intervention in the Classroom. San Diego, Singular Publishing Group, Inc.