COMMUNICATION DISABILITY/DELAY (ECS: Code 30)
A child identified with a mild to moderate communication disability/delay is one who:
has a diagnosed mild or moderate disability or identified delay in expressive and/or receptive language;
OR
has a diagnosed disability/delay in articulation, phonology, voice and/or fluency and is at risk for learning difficulties as demonstrated by education-based assessments, which may include tests of phonological awareness.



Clarification of Special Education Coding Criteria for Code 30
Questions and Answers
The Education Minister has a mandate to improve broad-based support and early learning initiatives for at-risk children to improve their learning outcomes.
Children with mild to moderate communication disabilities/delays are children who may be at-risk for future learning problems. School authorities can access Early Childhood Services (ECS) mild/moderate funding to support children in kindergarten and the year prior to kindergarten in school-based or community-based language-rich and responsive learning environments in order to improve their learning outcomes.
Clarification is required regarding identification of children who may be eligible for Early Childhood Services mild/moderate funding in the area of communication.
Question 1
What are the criteria for coding an ECS child with a mild/moderate communication disability/delay?
Answer:
Special Education Coding Criteria states:
Communication Disability/Delay (ECS: Code 30)
A child identified with a mild to moderate communication disability/delay is one who:
  • has a diagnosed mild or moderate disability or identified delay in expressive
    and/or receptive language; or
  • has a diagnosed disability/delay in articulation, phonology, voice and/or fluency and is at risk for learning difficulties as demonstrated by education-based assessments, which may include tests of phonological awareness.
    Question 2
    What is the school’s responsibility when referring children for specialized assessments to determine eligibility for mild/moderate ECS funding?
    Answer:
    Collaboration is critical in determining which students actually require a speech-language assessment. Services provided by Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP) are limited and time spent in assessment reduces the time available for intervention and consultation.



School personnel have an important role in completing screening and classroom observations to determine a possible speech-language delay and educational impact prior to recommending a speech-language assessment (e.g. a child with articulation, phonology, voice and/or fluency concerns is only eligible for mild/moderate ECS funding if “at risk for learning difficulties” therefore an education-based assessment should be completed prior to considering a request for a specialized assessment).
Question 3:
Can a communication disability/delay only be identified by a Speech-Language Pathologist?
Answer:
A delay in language development can be identified by a teacher or other professional trained in the use and interpretation of Level B assessment instruments. However, only a Speech-Language Pathologist using Level C assessment instruments can diagnose an expressive or receptive language delay or disability. Alberta Education requires that the Level B assessment tool be standardized, normed (preferably on a Canadian population) and is a reliable and valid measure of language development. There are a number of assessment tools available and information about test construction, reliability and validity is available from test developers.
Question 4:
Are the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals – Second Edition (CELF-P2) and the Preschool Language Scale – 4th Editions (PLS-4) the only assessment tools that can be used to determine eligibility for mild/moderate funding?
Answer:
Alberta Education requires that the assessment tool be standardized, normed (preferably on a Canadian population) and is a reliable and valid measure of receptive, expressive or total language development. There are a number of assessment tools available and information about test construction, reliability and validity is available from test developers.
Question 5:
Does Alberta Education specify the acceptable percentile score for mild/moderate eligibility?
Answer:
Alberta Education does not specify an acceptable percentile score for eligibility in the mild/moderate category but does accept the determination of severity as indicated by the test developer. The educator is in the best position to determine the impact that thedisability/delay has on the children’s learning and the most appropriate educational program for the child, in consideration of test results, observations of classroom functioning and discussion with parents.
Question 6:
If the classroom teacher administers the assessment, is it still necessary to get permission from the parent to administer a language assessment?
Answer:
Yes. According to Standards for the Provision of Early Childhood Special Education, school authorities must obtain parents’ written, informed consent for specialized assessments or referrals.
Question 7:
Who should determine the communication goals and objectives for the Individualized Program Plan (IPP)?
Answer:
The certificated teacher is accountable for the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all programming. The teacher is responsible for writing the IPP goals and should ensure that parents and other professionals, as appropriate, are involved in the IPP process and programming. IPP goals should focus on the child’s ability to function in the classroom and should not be specific “therapy” goals.
Question 8:
Is an IPP needed if a child is identified with “speech needs” and there are no language concerns?
Answer:
Funding should only be accessed if the disability/delay is impacting the child’s ability to function in the classroom. The school authority should not be accessing mild/moderate funding if there not an educational impact. Goals for children with articulation and/or phonology delays must focus on what the teacher is doing in the classroom to accommodate the child’s needs (e.g. increasing sound awareness in literacy programs or assisting children to communicate using gestures/pictures when speech is unclear). The teacher can collaborate with an SLP to determine realistic ways of targeting speech in natural routines. If additional services are being provided by the SLP (e.g. direct therapy) these services and specific goals do not need to be included on the IPP.


When your student experiences difficulty with speaking...
• give sentence starters.
• use visuals.
• use graphic organizers to organize ideas and relationships.
• allow extra response time for processing.
• say student’s name, then state question.
• use cues and prompts to help student know when to speak.
• use partners.
• phrase questions with choices embedded in them.
• use choral reading or speaking.
• use rhythm or music.
• allow practice opportunities for speaking.