Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mass Hearing Screenings

The first week of school does not always equate to students instantly beginning speech therapy. This is something that I learned last year as I did my school practicum in graduate school during the spring. In the world of SLP, I assume that this probably varies by school district (at the risk of sounding like a broken record).

In my district, the first week of school is used for hearing screenings and figuring out our schedules. The SLPs gather together at a different school each day and screen classrooms. It usually takes us about 5 minutes per class, which is pretty good if you ask me. We create two master lists and form an assembly line (a card finder, a stamper, and a signer) to put the information on health cards. I am so glad that our EC director lets us do screenings as a group because it is a surprisingly exhausting process.

My screening audiometer looks similar to this

This year, our mass hearing screening is slightly different from what has been done in years past. My state has changed the best practice policy for hearing screenings to kindergarten, first, sixth, and ninth grades. In the past, we have only screened first, third, and fifth grades. I like the addition of the older grades as they can develop a noise induced hearing loss from listening to their i-pods/radios. They may not be as cooperative as the younger ones, but it is important to raise hearing safety awareness with this age group. The screening is a perfect way to make them wonder about the impact of their habits may have on the future. What I do not understand about the new policy is why they decided to exclude third grade considering that is when the majority of our students fail. The district's contract audiologist also did not like the idea of skipping the third grade, which makes me wonder how other states and districts handle mass screenings. (We did decide to go ahead and screen third grade with our EC directors approval.)


  1. Our school nurses do the hearing screenings in a similar way but a few weeks into the school year. I cannot imagine doing mass hearing screenings the first week with everything else going on, mostly doing transfers for new students. Is your school population pretty stable, or do you do transfers the second week?

    1. The district I work in has a pretty transient population. It's not uncommon for kids to go to several of our elementary schools in one year's time. Last year, we only had a few transfers at random points in the year so it wasn't too bad. I've already gained & lost a few students within the first several days of this year.