App Review: Articulation Test Center

I was given a free copy of the app, Articulation Test Center, in order to provide an honest review.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions are mine.

You are in for a real treat today!  I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to review the app Articulation Test Center by Little Bee Speech.  This app is designed to assess articulation and phonology skills at the single word level as well as provide an intelligibility rating during a speech sample.

For starters, I watched the tutorials even before I downloaded the app.  You can find the full test tutorial, the quick test/screener tutorial, and the update tutorial here.  Chris from Little Bee Speech was right on to suggest watching these tutorials first.  My review does not intend to show you how to use the app, rather give you my opinions after experiencing the app.

While watching the tutorials {which are also available in written and video form on the app for future reference}, I took notes.  Once I downloaded the app, I administered the full test to my 9 year old, who happens to be working on correcting his speech sound errors.  Then, I administered the screener to my 5 and 3 year olds.  I then watched the tutorials again.  Here is what I noted.

First impression.  This app is absolutely ah-MAZ-ing!

For starters it includes a screener, which allows you to quick test sounds based on age.  The stimulus pictures and target sounds are different for each age level {2 years old, 3-4 years old, 5 years old, and 6 years & older}!  Hello genius!

Once you select an age level, it gives you a quick snapshot of the sounds assessed, based on developmental appropriateness.  New kindergarteners here I come to assess your articulation!

Little Bee Speech indicates that the screener/quick test could be used by teachers, parents, and speech language pathologists.  While I would have liked to have my husband try it out, I might suggest this only be used by speech language pathologists.  However, should a parent or teacher administer the screener, ensure they record each utterance, which will allow the speech language pathologist to mark/review errors.

The full test allows you the choice of assessing sounds in targeted positions {initial, medial, final}, blends, vowels, the /r/ sound separately, as well as including all these features in the full test.  While this choice option is a superstar, time saving feature, I would even like to see class of sound or phonological process options.

The full test has 59 stimulus cards.  The full test was quick to administer, about 5 minutes, even with recording each utterance.  I was pleasantly dreaming of whipping through progress monitoring sessions using this app.

The stimulus pictures are clear and recognizable.  Students verbally label each picture or receive a prompt by clicking on the picture, which gives a short description followed by a question prompt to elicit the target word.  There is also a record button with immediate playback.  My 3 year old easily learned the pattern of tapping the stimulus picture, waiting for a the description, tapping the record button, answering the question prompt, tapping stop, and finally tapping the playback button.  If that is not user friendly, I don't know what is!

I sat directly across from my children during administration, and while the new app does allow rotation of the stimulus items to face the students {a con I noted while listening to the tutorial, which was updated in version 1.3 to add rotation}, the target word and sound tiles for charting errors still face the examiner.  This was a bit distracting for me as well as my 9 year old.  It did not bother my non-readers.  I could totally get used to this, but I would suggest putting the scoring tiles on the bottom {closest to the examiner} and target word facing and closest to the student.  But since I know nothing about app development, I have no idea if this is even logistically possible to change.  The addition of rotation was key in the new version.

So how easy is it to score?  Say bye-bye to transcription, hello tapping a tile!  Above each target stimulus word/picture are letter/sound tiles.  Targeted sounds are in green.  Should no errors be evident, just leave the tile alone.  If the sound is in error, just tap the sound once to change it to red.  It doesn't stop there.  Click on the arrow and tabs pop up in order to mark a substitution or phonological process.  Simply drag the tile over the target sound to indicate the substitution or drag the phonological process over the portion of the word that was simplified.  Forget what a phonological process means, no problem.  Tabs pop up to define and give examples of the process.  I won't be pulling out my ALPHA Test of Phonology cheat sheet very often {although it is a keeper}.  Should you have a child that distorts sounds or is working toward approximation, you can tap the tile again and it turns yellow.  Click the notes icon and add in any additional information.

Here is another feature I totally appreciate.  You can pause the test in the middle and save in order to finish where you left off.  While this is not best practice, it's reality for school-based SLPs.  Trying to squeeze in assessment before gym time or lunch.  And then there is the monthly fire drill occurring right in the middle of an assessment session.  Little Bee Speech thought of everything!  Clearly at least one developer has worked in the school setting.

So what about when you are finished?  Click the scores button and then click on the student you are interested in obtaining information.  EVERYTHING an SLP would want is included.  An overview of the words tested and errors made, shown in colored tile format, with any processes marked, notes indicated, and the recordings taken.  Under the errors marked tab, sound errors or approximations are categorized by position in the word.  There you have your target sounds for goals!  It also includes the phonological processes and percent of occurrence.  Check that off the list.  It even gives you a reference for age of acquisition.  This would be a great page to show in an IEP meeting.  Parent and teacher friendly language and visuals.

The next tab includes the entire speech sample recording.  As an initial con on my list prior to the addition of the updates in version 1.3, I desired a more comprehensive intelligibility rating.  With version 1.3 an optional area to transcribe the sample, as well the ability to achieve an intelligibility rating by tapping a + or - for each word in the sample was added.  This my friends, may be the answer to an early intervention/preschool therapist's anxiety.  Picture the old way, trying entertain a 2 year old with engaging toys, enthusiastic facial expressions, and verbal elicitation techniques while transcribing utterances nearby and trying to scribble + and - marks for intelligibility, pausing often to see if you elicited 100 words.  Meanwhile your therapy room is a mess and the child's parents are not confident in your techniques.  Sound familiar?  Now with Articulation Test Center, showing the child an interactive scene on the iPad, reading the prompts to elicit language as the child selects a particular picture, all while enjoying the child's responses, and just watching the record button keep the time of your sample.  While you would need to go back and rate the sample using the + - system to achieve a more accurate intelligibility rating, you not only have the rating based on time, but also it does the calculating for you.

Now make sure you are sitting down for this one!  Just recently I was having a text discussion with a fellow SLP.  We were talking about things that can be done in 1 hour, like my 5 dinners 1 hour and her 30 smoothies endeavor.  We chuckled about trying to develop a report writing in 1 hour program.  Well, a simple click of the report tab, some typing of a few recommendations {with the guidance from the recommendation tab}, and finally an e-mail off.  Report is complete.  Okay, so maybe not 30 reports in 1 hour, but clearly 5 articulation/phonology reports in 1 hour is entirely doable.

This app is great for preschool, early elementary, and older elementary students.  Within the settings tab, since you have the option of taking out the stimulus image, leaving only the word, older elementary and even middle school students won't feel that items are too elementary.

Even though I am totally smitten with Articulation Test Center and truly grateful for this opportunity for review, I would like to see a sentence repetition task and scenes in the intelligibility testing for older students.  Did I mention I love the intelligibility rating for speech samples?  I do!  The app is VERY comprehensive and an invaluable time saving tool without these additions, but a girl can dream!

One question I had during my review was how many different students could be kept on the app at a time and how many times you could add new assessment for each student.  A response from Little Bee Speech reveals that the number of students and assessments per child is limited only to the storage available on your device!

This test is not standardized, rather relies on age-equivalents, moreover criterion-referenced based on developmental norms.  Some districts do require standardized assessments for qualifying students.  Getting around that and my personal preference for this app, a PROGRESS MONITORING tool!

In addition this app is available through the Volume Purchase Program through Apple.  You must purchase 20 or more, for $24.99 each app, that's half off.  Selfishly for my speech department, I would like to see volume purchasing include 10 or more copies, but I don't even know if that is under the control of Little Bee Speech?  Until then though, you lucky SLPs have the opportunity to purchase this app at 30% off the regular price of $49.99.

The 30% off sale starts Tuesday, August 12th and runs through August 14th.

So are you ready to buy Articulation Test Center?  You likey won't regret it!  Have you already used this app in assessment?  What do you think?

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