Monday, March 2, 2015

Monday Re-Post: Phonological Awareness?

The following post was first published on 28 October 2015.
In a publication by my state, the following Q&A is presented:

"If a child has a deficit in phonological awareness can s/he be identified as language
impaired? 
Yes, as long as s/he meets standards in an area of language such as auditory
perception; however, if that is the only problem identified in a language assessment, it  would be best practice to refer the child for a psychological evaluation to investigate the  possibility of a Specific Learning Disability in phonological processing manifested in the  area of reading."  (Tennessee Resource Packet for Speech/Language Impairments General Assessment)

Phonological Awareness is not something we regularly assess or treat in my school system.  We are lucky enough to have Literacy Leaders (LL) who take the reigns in that area.  And, to be perfectly honest, I feel that it is out of my scope of practice since I'm not reading certified.  That is not to say that I don't slip things in during therapy, as in what sound a letter makes, rhyming words, or "chunking" letters together to figure out what a word is.  I just don't assess or write specific objectives for it.  My philosophy is that my objective is to give them the language basics that he needs in order to achieve those skills.

I have worked with one of my LLs, and I think we have an important role with consulting with them.  We have the skills that appear to be common sense (to us, anyway) since we have been extensively trained in how sounds are made.  When my LL is having difficulty with a student understanding (for example) that a "ch" makes a /ᵗᶴ/ , and how to make that sound.  It's something we take for granted that the LL may have difficulty with.

After working for a few years, phonological awareness became the "big thing".  Then, it seemed to "go away", and now it's back.  My intern & I have had a couple of big discussions about our role with Phonological Awareness in the schools.  In fact, she administered the PLS-4 to a student the other day, and we were discussing if she needed to do another test with him since he scored greater than 1.5 standard deviations below the mean.  She said that if she were in the university clinic, she would administer a Phonological Awareness Test.  I reminded her that she wasn't in the clinic, and that the state requires a supportive measure.  On top of that, there really wasn't anything to indicate that the Phonological Awareness (PA) Test was warranted.  If she had given the PA test, that wouldn't be a basis for the supporting measure.

Maybe this is where my "Old School" comes in.  I've seen PA come and go, and come back again.  I'm just very thankful that my school system sees the need for Literacy Leaders; otherwise students wouldn't get the help that they need since very few of those students qualify for language services.

What does your state's regulations say about Phonological Awareness?  Do you also have Literacy Leaders in your school?

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