Happy New Year, SLPeeps! Let’s kick it off with a review of a rare type of app: an SLP assessment tool!
How It Works: The app comes with a manual, video tutorials, and the actual test. Of course, read the manual first! 🙂 It has important information about administration, the subtests, special features (like the counter), and more. Once you’re ready to administer, add students and groups along with their basic information (e.g. DOB, gender, grade). They don’t have to be in groups, but it can be nice to use these (whether for actual groups or if you work in a few different districts and want to organize them this way).
After you’re set up, select the student and press “new test” to start the subtests. Each subtest will have the skill being assessed at the top (e.g. “Rhyme – Identification”), a demo (e.g. “cat-bat-hat: these words rhyme or sound the same”), evaluator prompt (e.g. “Do these rhyme?”), 2 trial items, 3-6 test items, and the discontinue/ceiling rule at the bottom. All items have scoring for correct/missed/not administered. On the side, there are buttons to skip to the next skill, return home, write notes, and complete the test. You can easily press the arrows at the bottom to navigate through the subtests. Oh, and for appropriate subtests, there is a “counter” option to let kids visualize segmentation. I know that sounds like a lot, but it is actually pretty uncluttered! See the accompanying pictures for a better idea of how it looks.
After the testing is complete, go to the student and click on the testing date to view the results. They’re color-coded by percentage to show not attained, emerging, and achieved skills. Clicking on the various skills will also show the percentages of subskills (e.g. rhyming ID and production). From here, you can compare percentages to the table found in the manual (compiled from several sources) or to your own criterion.
Therapy Applications: As with all tests, baseline assessment is the primary purpose of this app. In addition, it can be used to show progress, create appropriate goals and plans, and even educate related professionals. (Because who doesn’t like a visual representation of our reports?!) I tried it out with several typically developing kiddos before I used it with students who already have IEPs, and it was great as a screener for both groups, giving insight into areas of strength and weakness.
Pros: 1. Price. If you look back at my previous posts, I hem and haw about apps of this price. As I’ve said before, often these apps are worth it, but it’s still a good chunk of change for an app. However, given the sound content of this app, the extensive manual, and it’s purpose as an assessment tool, I think $30 is more than reasonable.
2. Clean layout. Set-up and use is smooth and intuitive.
3. Pressing home automatically saves test for later. While I think this is important in all apps, it is especially so in an assessment app!
4. Thorough manual. Truly, this is what kicks the app up a notch from great to excellent.
5. Color-coded system. This is extremely helpful for perusing the results and deciding which areas to focus on in therapy.
6. Easy to understand prompts. The flow of the test feels similar to your typical assessment, so it felt natural to go through it.
7. It offers more than just a digitalized version of an assessment through features such as the counter.
Cons: 1. My biggest concern is confidentiality. Here’s the quandary: it would be great to have the app password-protected; however, the developer is not able to access passwords created and stored on your iPad, so if the password is forgotten, they cannot retrieve it for you, and you would need to then delete the app and re-download it, thereby losing your data from the assessments. [Insert grumpy sigh and whine to Apple about this.] My solution: be very, VERY careful to not use any identifying information within the app.
2. This app is relatively new assessment tool, so it likely won’t be recognized by many in the educational setting. It will probably be necessary to provide additional description of the assessment and how it is being used while report writing, justifying goals, sharing results, etc.
The Take-Away: This is an easy-to-use, time-efficient assessment tool with a thorough manual. It evaluates the various aspects of phonological awareness and is a great asset for SLPs and educators who work on these skills with students. Just be careful not to store any identifying information within the app!
My Questions for You: Do you assess and treat phonological awareness? What assessment tools do you currently use? Would you be comfortable using an app for evaluation or screening purposes?
Looking for more expert reviews of this app? Check it out on YappGuru.com!
Disclosure: Smarty Ears provided me with a free copy of this app to review. I was not compensated in any way for the review, and they were aware that I would be discussing the app’s strengths and weaknesses. In addition, Tanya Coyle (the app creator) and I both recently joined a new company, YappGuru. (See my post on my involvement and her post on her involvement.) I was asked to do this review before either of us was invited to join the company; however, I felt it should still be disclosed.