Does your child need an evaluation or a screening?

Speech-Language Screening vs. Evaluation
What are the differences?
By Ashley Ward, B.A., SLPA

When there are concerns regarding your child’s speech and language development, there are two main first steps to begin the process of acquiring answers. Speech-language screenings and full evaluations are two different assessments with a common goal: to provide information about your child’s speech and language skills. Below are the contrasts of these two types of assessments.

Speech-Language Screening:
Speech-Language screenings are generally conducted as a brief meeting to determine strengths and weaknesses through informal protocols.

• Typically occur in the fall at the beginning of the school year.
• Can be completed at a school or in a private clinic.
• No formal testing is used—Speech-language pathologists will bring age-appropriate printouts of colors, shapes, objects, etc. and ask simple identification questions to get an idea of your child’s speech and language skills. They will also bring a short screening form to record observations and comments.
• No standard scores are calculated comparing your child’s skills to their same-age peers.
• No formal written report of the speech therapist’s findings will be compiled.

Generally after a screening, a written summary will be provided with the results of the screening and recommendations on what steps to take next. This can include a request for a full evaluation, a wait period for a re-screen, or a referral to another type of therapy.

Speech-Language Evaluation:Speech-Language Evaluations are longer assessments where formal testing materials are used based on the type of concern (difficult to understand, small vocabulary, substituting certain speech sounds for a different sound, etc.)

• Mainly conducted in a private clinic.
• Insurance is generally contacted prior to the evaluation to determine eligibility and coverage of services.
• One or more formal tests will be administered.
• Standard scores will be calculated, placing your child in a percentile ranking comparing their skills to their same-age peers.
• A formal evaluation report will be written with your child’s background history, specific details of their performance, standard scores from the administered test(s), and recommendations on what to do next.

After an evaluation, a follow-up consultation will be scheduled with the speech-language pathologist who performed the testing to go through the comprehensive written report and to discuss further recommendations.

Getting your child screened or evaluated is the first step in ensuring they receive the services they need to develop and thrive.

Capital Area Speech offers free in-office speech and language screenings for all civil service employees as well as for the employees of the following: Dell, City of Austin, and the University of Texas at Austin.

For more information on what to look for, visit for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association official campaign for identifying the early indicators of communication disorders.


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