“Online Assessments – MISSION: Possible!”

When schools have issues providing therapy services, whether because of staffing issues, scheduling issues, high caseloads, geographic issues, or other reasons, PresenceLearning steps in to help with its online speech therapy services. One significant challenge that schools face is simply having the bandwidth to assess students, a time-consuming process. During a yearlong pilot with both Pearson and Western Psychological Services (WPS), PresenceLearning used its online solution to enable its speech-language pathologists (SLPs) to perform speech language assessments via a live videoconference  in order to help school districts effectively onboard and dismiss speech language students.

Schools often face a backlog of students needing assessments because of overflowing caseloads or therapist shortages. Delaying the evaluation process can create myriad issues for schools. Besides scheduling, compliance and having the time to provide adequate services, this backlog can be costly for schools because they may be providing services to students who no longer need them.

To date, PresenceLearning has conducted more than 500 assessments online. Online assessments work the same way as in-person assessments; only the delivery online is different. While the student completes the evaluation in the PresenceLearning platform with the assistance of an on-site paraprofessional or SLP aide, the therapist is in a remote location. The online SLP conducting the assessment then collaborates with the student’s special education team by communicating results with teachers and coordinators, scheduling and participating in IEP meetings to discuss student goals and, of course, completing documentation.

Fowler Unified School District (USD) in Fowler, CA, experienced the benefits of online assessments firsthand. Fowler USD began using PresenceLearning’s online speech therapy in 2011 after a year-long SLP vacancy, which resulted in an overabundance of students who needed to be evaluated. After working with PresenceLearning for online assessments the following year, Fowler USD was able to dismiss almost 50 percent of their speech language caseload. This allowed the district to quickly begin serving new students who qualified for speech therapy.

These points and more were covered in the recent PresenceLearning SPEDcast Online Assessments—Mission: Possible!, which provided the following three key takeaways:

  1. Online speech evaluation helps special education directors meet timelines and manage compliance, even for special cases
  2. Online evaluators and the on-site special education team collaborate on student cases for the best results
  3. Current data suggests that online evaluation is as effective as traditional methods

Make sure to tune into our next SPEDcast, “Get a Grip on Online OT,” on Wednesday, November 20, 2013! You can register here.