This information has changed my teaching practice and I know I am a much better teacher. I actually enjoy teaching now as I can see the students learning.

Grade 5 teacher

FAQ

  • 1. Why do this assessment?

    It helps teachers and health professionals understand the normal range of ability at each age so that they can communicate appropriately with children. It identifies those at risk for underachievement in literacy and disruptive behavior and gives simple strategies to assist. It is primarily a teacher professional development resource.

  • 2. How long does it take?

    Each child takes 5-7 mins. to assess. Instructions with video clips giving examples of children being assessed are provided on the CD’s. Score sheets and how to score them are also available, ready to print out. Normative data for age, gender and for children where English is a second language is provided on the CD, and also quick reference normative data is in the accompanying booklet.

  • 3. Are any special skills or equipment required to do the assessment?

    After following the step by step instructions on the CD; a quiet room, CD player or computer, score sheets, small card to hide the mouth when doing the hearing screen, and table and chairs are all that is required. The sentences and digits for the assessment are recorded and therefore standardized and available via a CD player or using the same disc in a computer. There is one CD for primary (elementary school) and one for upper primary and secondary school.

  • 4. Who can do the assessment?

    Teachers, health professionals, Pediatricians, Speech Pathologists, Audiologists or anyone who is prepared to follow the instructions in the kit is able to do the assessment.

  • 5. When should this assessment be done?

    Experienced teachers who have not been specifically aware of this aspect of child development have benefited from testing all the children in their class to demonstrate the normal range and variation in the class and to highlight children who are at risk. Many schools are now doing this as a routine assessment at school entry.  Teachers who are aware and adjust their teaching practice to take this aspect of development into account, often choose to select and assess only those they suspect as having a problem.  There is no need to repeat the test more frequently than yearly.

  • 6. Do children improve naturally?

    Yes. The evidence from following the same group of children over a 4-year period from age 5-9 shows a steady improvement each year.  Large numbers of older children have also been assessed. On average they improve 1 word per year on this assessment until the age of 10 and thereafter it is, on average, 1 word every 2 years through until the end of their schooling.

  • 7. If the child has a difficulty in processing auditory information, is there any training that can improve it?

    There are several programs available that claim to improve auditory processing. There is evidence that they encourage children to listen more carefully, but there is no evidence that we are aware of, that these programs increase their auditory processing capacity (the amount they can take in) faster than the normal developmental changes.

    However, when children become more familiar with language, it is easier to remember.

    When children concentrate better, either being less stressed and anxious, or with medication such as with Attention Deficit Disorder, or if they expect to be able to understand what is said, there can be an improvement in scores.

    This capacity improves throughout childhood and continues to improve through adolescence although at a slightly slower rate.

  • 8. How can this assessment help with good teaching practice?

    Hundreds of children and adults have been asked what the characteristics of a ‘good teacher’ are.
    They consistently reply:

    • “They care about you.”
    • “They know what they are teaching and are enthusiastic about conveying it.”
    • “They not only know it but they are interested in whether I am learning it.”
    • ”They are fair” – particularly for boys…..Teachers can be eccentric, grumpy or unusual but they are OK if they are fair.

    This kit helps by highlighting that the information conveyed to children can be learned when they are able to recall what is said because they are not overloaded. Teachers are showing that they care about children by communicating at a level appropriate for their age and ability. They know what they are teaching because they can convey it in terms children can understand.  It is definitely not being fair to assume that when a child does not obey an instruction, it is because they are ’being difficult’, whereas it may be that they did not understand what they were meant to be doing.

  • 9. What if the strategies are not working?

    If children have been identified as having a difficulty with processing information, and the suggested strategies are not significantly improving their ability to learn, then further assessments are required to identify if there is another underlying condition.  This assessment is a measure of how the child is functioning rather than making a diagnosis of a disorder. Difficulties in this area can be due to other conditions such as speech and language disorders, attention deficit disorder, anxiety and severe distress, unfamiliarity with the language, mild intellectual difficulties, central auditory processing, or an isolated difficulty without any underlying cause in a child with normal intelligence.

    Since communication strategies for all these conditions are similar due to the common difficulty of auditory processing, this is necessary, but not necessarily sufficient, for all the above conditions. It has been found that the number of assessments required for children who are struggling has been less as many children will respond to these strategies alone. As many school support systems are overloaded with long waiting times, reducing the demand by being better targeted, often means they can be seen earlier.

  • 10. Is auditory processing capacity the same as central auditory processing?

    Assessment of digit span and sentence length are part of the assessment of central auditory processing (CAP) but CAP requires more specialized assessment by an Audiologist and is identifying some of the more complex processing of auditory information that occurs in the brain.

    This assessment kit shows how a child is functioning but does not indicate, of itself, that there is a long term problem. However, our research shows that changes are needed in the way people communicate with such children in order to not significantly disadvantage them educationally.

  • 11. If it improves naturally why do we need to do anything?

    Our research has shown that students who have not had this taken into account are frequently disruptive, miserable, disheartened, with poor literacy and they ‘hate school’, leaving as early as possible. Poor educational achievement is the strongest risk factor for life-long problems particularly early pregnancy, drug use, trouble with the law, homelessness and mental health issues.

    Our research also shows that when this aspect of development is taken into account by teaching literacy skills in the early years of school; and in later years giving strategies for sequencing information, teaching basic information that was missed, and communicating appropriately in the classroom: students appear to concentrate better, understand what they are meant to be doing, are able to achieve literacy skills and disruptive behavior improves. Furthermore, boys in particular begin to re-engage in learning. Not taking this aspect of development into account, is like telling a child who has poor vision to ‘look harder’ in order to see. For example, telling a child who can only recall short sentences to ‘listen harder’ when we quickly give them 10-digit phone number, without repeating it or ‘chunking it’ with pauses, is therefore just as impolite.

  • 12. How can you tell if a child with non English-speaking background as has auditory processing difficulties?

    It can be difficult, but if a child does well on the digit span for the age group but poorly with sentences, the issue is likely to be familiarity with language and they will progress well if adjustments are made for their sentence length recall level.  If the child also does poorly on the digit span as well as the sentences then often they have difficulty with acquiring a good standard of language in their first language and significant adjustments to how English is presented will need to be made.