Progress Monitoring: Baselines and Beyond

The Frenzied SLPs are kicking off our monthly blog post series with a hot topic for the beginning of the school year (and honestly all year)! With the requirement for billing within the schools, data must be collected each time a student receives services in order to properly document objectively. Progress Monitoring:  Baselines and Beyond will be be a great starting point for documenting. I'm looking forward to learning from every SLP that links up.

It was a busy back to speech this year. I screened 125 kindergarten students and met with each of my 50+ IEP caseload students to discuss communication targets and therapy routines in the first seven days of school. As each teacher was collecting baselines for academic skills using their paper and pencil pre-tests in each subject area and our computer-based assessments, this SLP was debating about collecting my own baselines.

The vast difference between classroom-based baselines and speech therapy baselines is the word individualized. I really focused on this word when settling the debate about how I was going to initiate my progress monitoring.

Let's begin with students receiving language intervention. I have used curriculum-based and informal leveled language measures at the beginning of the year and they provide much needed information. Administering these to each of my 50+ students was time consuming and I felt it delayed the start of true therapy. I decided instead to be selective with this type of present level performance gathering. I will indeed use these measures (my personal favorites are here and here) when the IEP review is near and also if I really want to gauge a student's overall language functioning. This is often the case when a new student moves in or when returning students were showing near mastery on goals and objectives during the last school year.

This year, I'm starting with barrier activities and structured conversation while charting anecdotally through observation or language samples (most often used if individual goals are in the area of syntax). I'm lucky to know the majority of my students and their target areas of deficit.

I have seasonal barrier activities within my TpT store and we are starting off with a summer theme since the weather is still so hot and humid! I'm sure as SLPs you have more than enough topics for structured conversation; however, if not here is a great freebie from Jenn Alcorn called Conversation Starter Cards. Here is a Back to School Icebreaker freebie from Speech Snacks (just spotted as a TpT featured freebie).

Does anyone have this vintage set? I love how each incorporates a detailed paragraph prior to asking the conversational questions. The articulation and language targets that can be addressed are limitless with these cards.

Let's switch to articulation. I do love articulation screeners (often I use sentence imitation screeners). So often, over the summer, the speech sound development of children can fluctuate greatly. Sometimes it's for the better and other times without the consistent practice, sounds that were near mastery are barely approximate. I will use articulation screeners and speech samples, charting 50-100 word samples to note speech sound errors and overall intelligibility. This year I made labels to chart my 50 word samples.

You can find a great word and sentence level articulation screener for FREE from Twin Speech here.  I keep a stack of copies ready for any time of year.

While I'm just taking one day at a time and taking baselines, these same activities and resources can be used beyond baselines for progress monitoring anytime!  Want to read more, check out the link ups below!


  1. Thank you for the links and ideas! I really enjoyed the post and happy to hear that you use our artic screener. Great! :) Manda, Twin Speech

  2. I love the idea of getting to therapy sooner!

  3. Fantastic post (as usual). Thank you for all the ideas.

  4. I'm with you...sometimes it feels like taking baseline data just prolongs actual therapy even more.

  5. I agree that we have to limit our measurements at the beginning of the year to get treatment started! Great tips!


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