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Article excerpt from Summer 2020 Issue:

What is a Thorough Functional Assessment?

Sue Goldman
School Affairs Committee

Full disclosure – I am no expert on telepractice. The extent of my participation in school activities relative to special education during the COVID-19 crisis has been limited to writing IEPs and reports and attending Zoom IEP meetings. However, my years of evaluation experience in schools taught me how to perform and fine-tune a functional assessment of language ability. Other than the consideration of informal measures, such as teacher and parent questionnaires, I will limit my definition of functional assessment to observing and working with the student.

Due to the emergency situation prompted by COVID-19, as of this writing (June 2, 2020), standardized assessment of language via telepractice is not yet a viable option for most speech-language specialists (SLSs). By the time this article is in print, that issue may have been resolved. Nevertheless, use of standardized tools does not preclude the need for a valid functional assessment. By valid, I mean doing much more than having a conversation with a student. Many students can hold an appropriate conversation, but are unable to use academic language in explanations of what has been taught or comprehend the meaning of expository text and academic language.