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The Bridge of Vocabulary Addresses the Need for Evidence-Based Vocabulary Intervention


Link to The Bridge of Vocabulary product page

The color purple. What does it mean? Combined with red, it can mean adventure, excitement, and energy. Adding blue evokes richness and depth. It’s not surprising then, that purple is also the color selected for The Bridge of Vocabulary: Evidence-Based Activities for Academic Success.

This new tool for vocabulary intervention is the only program tied to evidence-based research and curriculum standards. It is also the first resource of its kind for both general and special educators.

Author Judy K. Montgomery, PhD, says, “It not only bridges vocabulary needs, it also bridges people. For instance, SLPs can be linked with their education partners or special educators can collaborate with those in regular education.”

“It not only bridges vocabulary needs, it also bridges people.” —Dr. Judy Montgomery

As an example, The Bridge of Vocabulary allows general education professionals to focus on grade-level English Language Arts standards, while special educators can find evidence-based practices for Individual Education Program (IEP) goals.

Focused and flexible, The Bridge of Vocabulary also enables users to meet guidelines set by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA), which require that teachers and specialists use evidence-based teaching practices to ensure high-quality education and intervention. Additionally, the program is ideally suited for all three tiers of the Response to Intervention (RTI) model.

This exceptional tool can help all students succeed—including ELL students and individuals with language and learning disabilities, as well as typical elementary and secondary students.

The Bridge of Vocabulary is comprised of a book and accompanying CD. The book includes about 100 activities across five age ranges (preschool, lower elementary, upper elementary, middle school/junior high, and high school/adult). The CD offers these activities and many more for each age range, including guided practice, independent practice, word cards, and pictures cards.

“This means SLPs and educators now have one resource to use from grade school to high school,” Dr. Montgomery notes. “There’s no other program like this. Usually you have to search for materials, category by category.

“As an author, I’m a believer that busy SLPs and teachers don’t have time to produce materials. They need something that’s put together for them. But they also need the latitude to customize or personalize the activity. With Bridge, everything is there—each activity has a beginning, middle, and end plus measurable objectives. However, professionals can also add what they want to fit the requirements of a particular situation.”

“As an author, I’m a believer that busy SLPs and teachers don’t have time to produce materials.” —Dr. Judy K. Montgomery

Dr. Montgomery says that to ensure maximum effectiveness, “we asked ourselves, ‘what is it that evidence-based practice tells us we should do as good educators?’ and ‘what is the standard that comes from general education that tells us what content area a child should be acquiring by a certain point in time?’ We also listened to reading, language, and cognitive experts and looked at content from four angles: reading, listening, writing, and speaking. Once constructed, all activities were field tested by classroom teachers and speech-language pathologists.”

The result? A well-researched, comprehensive program that serves the needs of diverse educators and students.

Every book activity contains step-by-step directions; an objective statement; an evidence base statement that specifies how the activity links to research; recommended group size; materials needed; any related activities on the CD; standards that link instruction to specific curriculum standards for all 50 states and the District of Columbia; and at-a-glance icons that indicate time required.

Dr. Montgomery explains, “The program is designed in short activities that run five, ten, or fifteen minutes, marked with bars that indicate length. If the user decides he or she has just a few minutes to devote to an activity, something with one bar can be selected; with a little more time, an activity with three bars can be used. Not only does this give the professional flexibility, it also mirrors how children learn—we know they acquire knowledge and skills in short segments. As an example, if we overload a child with 50 questions or present a long chapter, it’s harder for the child to comprehend. But if we present five items, there’s a higher chance the child can get them right. That is much more satisfying experience.”

The user-friendly format of the book allows users to quickly locate age-appropriate activities and to readily find similar activities by topic at a higher or lower age level to adjust for a student’s ability.

“Because each activity is short,” Dr. Montgomery notes, “it’s easy for people to come back over and over again. In fact, the professional team could stay on the same topic for several different sessions. The SLP could do a lesson from a page in the book and the teacher could do the corresponding independent practice on the CD. The same thing could be true the other way. The teacher could do a lesson from the book and say to the SLP ‘right now we’re working on prefixes and suffixes. I see there are follow-up activities on this topic on the CD that you could use in your therapy session.’ In this way, the program reinforces what’s done in classroom and also in therapy.”

“Because each activity is short, it’s easy for people to come back over and over again. In fact, the professional team could stay on the same topic for several different sessions.” —Dr. Judy K. Montgomery

Skills and concepts targeted in the activities include:

  • Learning, speaking, reading, and writing
  • Language processing of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and prepositions
  • Antonyms and synonyms
  • Categorization
  • Word parts (prefixes, suffixes, and roots)
  • Rhyming
  • Compounds
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Meaning and usage
  • Storytelling
  • Word play

When asked to point out something special she’d like her fellow colleagues to notice about The Bridge of Vocabulary, Dr. Montgomery says, “I’d urge them to take the time to read the introduction. Sometimes when we’re busy, we don’t always do this. The introduction isn’t long and it gives all the background information. Best of all, it also provides the most comprehensive research available on how vocabulary informs what we do in instruction—how it makes instruction richer.

“We have the imperative that by 2014 all children must be proficient in all core subjects. So, we have no time to lose. We need excited, effective people working together. And we need robust, collaborative tools to make sure everyone learns. The Bridge of Vocabulary is the first of many versions to come that will combine SLP expertise with that of their educational counterparts’.”

Comprehensive and flexible for maximum usability . . . research based for utmost effectiveness . . . and purple to denote energy and depth, The Bridge of Vocabulary will help us reach the goals of the future.

The Tiered IDEA Model and its Implications for Speech-Language Pathologists


As you are likely aware, there have been major changes with the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA). President Bush signed these changes into law on December 3, 2004. One of the changes most noticeable to SLPs is the change in the eligibility criteria for Learning Disabled (LD) programs. In this article, we talk with Barbara Moore-Brown, EdD, CCC-SLP about what these changes mean to SLPs.

“The new language for LD criteria,” explains Dr. Moore-Brown, “allows for the use of a Responsiveness to Intervention (RTI) model and prohibits requiring the use of a discrepancy model.” Change to an RTI model will involve using a three- or four-tiered model, such as the one discussed below. Dr. Moore-Brown stressed the need for SLPs to be involved in learning and talking about RTI programs so they will be ready for the RTI or other models as they evolve.

As the tiered model and RTI develop, it is important that SLPs and others understand why the LD criteria need to change, as Dr. Moore-Brown explains:

    Professional literature has been critical of the discrepancy model of LD for several reasons, as well as the “wait to fail” model of special education. Using a tiered approach, including RTI models, we have opportunities to assist students. Dr. Judy Montgomery and I call it “teach instead of test” [Note: see this month's second Featured Article for more on this topic]. We must remember that the old way of identifying students with learning disabilities was based on fundamentally flawed premises. Today, LD is considered only when we have first ensured that students aren’t instructional casualties, or students have not learned due to educational situations, rather than specific learning disabilites. So IDEA 2004 has opened the door for many districts to look at the development of response-to-intervention models—typically within the tiered approach—prior to a student receiving special education assessment.

Some districts have responded by using a four-tiered intervention model:

    1. General Education classroom
    2. Intensive instruction (General or Special Education)
    3. Intensive instruction, known as Early Intervening Services, usually through Special Education
    4. Special Education assessment and determination of eligibility

Some districts use a three-tiered intervention model, while others use models with more than four tiers. “The key is the realization that many different types of intervention need to occur prior to assessment,” Dr. Moore-Brown notes. The impact of the IDEA reauthorization on SLPs will be most noticeable in the prevention and intervention areas. “Specifically,” says Dr. Moore-Brown, “SLPs will have to expand their service delivery models for IDEA-defined Early Intervening Services.” Dr. Moore-Brown also emphasized an important distinction for SLPs to note: the IDEA-defined “Early Intervening Services and/or prevention services for school-aged students should not be confused with Early Intervention, which is a term covering ages birth through three years.”

“SLPs must take an active role in the development and/or revamping of programs for the middle tier(s),” Dr. Moore-Brown stressed. “We need to make sure they include services and intervention before a student is recommended for Special Education.” The emphasis on the tiered model of IDEA, notes Dr. Moore-Brown, is on the “process of treatment and intervention, rather than pushing kids right into Special Education”—prevention and intervention before identification. “Additionally,” she says, “it is important to note that RTI should have specific parameters for entrance, and limitations on the duration of services. In other words, this is much more than a collection place for non-identified students.”

Dr. Moore-Brown emphasized the importance of SLPs remaining current with the 2004 IDEA requirements, and encouraged SLPs to attend workshops about this topic. There have been many changes in the new law that are important for SLPs to know about. “These changes,” she says, “will require SLPs to continue to examine their roles and responsibilities in the schools.” Dr. Moore-Brown also made sure to mention how exciting these changes are for SLPs, students and professionals alike: “It’s a fascinating time to be in education!”

Want to find out more? Check out the following resources:

Council for Exceptional Children. (2005). What’s New in the New IDEA 2004? Arlington, VA: CEC.

Moore-Brown, B.J., Montgomery, J.K. (2005). Making a Difference in the Era of Accountability: Update on NCLB and IDEA 2004. Eau Claire, WI: Thinking Publications.

Moore-Brown, B.J., Montgomery, J.K., Bielinski, J. & Shubin, J. (2005). Responsiveness to Intervention: Teaching before Testing Helps Avoid Labeling. Top Lang Disorders, 25.2, 148-67.

http://www.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/idea2004.html

RTI Models: Teaching Before Testing Helps Students Learn


In the August, 2005 edition of Topics in Language Disorders, Dr. Judy K. Montgomery, PhD, CCC-SLP, published an article about her recently-conducted study, “Responsiveness to Intervention: Teaching before Testing Helps Avoid Labeling.” Below, we talk with the study’s primary participants: Dr. Montgomery (JM), Barbara Moore-Brown, EdD, CCC-SLP (BM-B), and John Bielinski, PhD (JB). They will tell us about the study—its process, its outcomes, and its value for SLPs.

What interests/compels you most about the Responsiveness to Intervention (RTI) model for SLPs?

JM: I have been dismayed with the “wait to fail” model of determining LD identification for a long time. Many of us in the SLP field have felt that we learn much more about success in intervention from “trial therapy” than we do from standardized testing. Our standardized tests give us a snapshot of performance compared to similar age- or grade-peers and our “trial therapies” let us observe and measure students in often dynamic and more authentic teaching/learning situations. RTI is a type of “trial therapy”—we get to teach young students intensively and observe how they learn before steps toward special education need to be taken. RTI makes sense for kids and the educators who care about them.

JB: As Director of Test Development at AGS Publishing, I admittedly came into the project with little knowledge of the specifics of this intervention program. After working with the project, I can tell you I was impressed with the success of the intervention, as well as the methodology used in the project. Replication is one of the most powerful tools scientists and researchers have to demonstrate that something works. This project was conducted with four different cohorts over a two-year period. It was conducted in a real-world situation using regular district personnel who received training in the program. The fact that it was successful in this environment suggests that it could be successful in other school settings. The students who participated had not been responding to other forms of direct instruction or intervention for some time. Yet, within a nine-week program their performance improved significantly.

For this study, the Group Reading Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation (GRADE) was used both as a pre-test and post-test measure of a subject’s reading level. The GRADE is divided into levels corresponding to different levels of reading skill. Each level has two forms, A and B. Participants in this study took a different level of the GRADE at the conclusion of the program than they took prior to the program. This reflects a sound methodology—because differnet items were administered during pre- and post-testing, the gains cannot be attributed to practice effects.

How was the study initially conceptualized?

JM: I had developed a comprehensive language/reading program that has been making a big difference for struggling readers in our university clinic (Chapman University; Orange, CA) for 3 years. Dr. Barbara Moore-Brown had prepared her staff at El Rancho School District in Pico Rivera, CA, to embrace the changes that were eminent with IDEA 2004. Barbara and I had both been advocating big changes in the reauthorization of IDEA every chance we could for several years. When it became clear that NCLB and IDEA 2004 were going to literally overlap in the effort to assure that all students read, we decided to see what we could learn about teaching vs. testing.

What role did each participant play in the forming of the study?

JM: As I mentioned, Dr. Moore-Brown and I had been laying the groundwork for this study since before the 2004 reauthorization of IDEA. Once we decided to concentrate on teaching first, we both accumulated as much information as possible about RTI. We read everything we could, attended conferences, and observed programs in our respective regions. Once we had a strong foundation of research, we began to solidify our ideas to use the authentic laboratory of the public school system to try them out. Both Barbara and I believe it is important for SLPs to move themselves into administrative positions in schools, so they can make program decisions and launch evidence-based practices. This study is an excellent example of what can be accomplished in this respect.

JB: With any new treatment or intervention idea, it’s critical to have evidence that the program creates positive change for the recipients. You can use standardized tests to provide some of the evidence base for the quality and effectiveness of the treatment or intervention idea. I was pulled into this project to conduct the analyses of the measurement data gathered during the study through the use of the GRADE. In addition, I was tasked to write up the results and contribute to the conclusions. My role was centered around technical information, rather than doing the actual research or implementing the results.

What are the significant results of the study? What do they mean for SLPs?

JM: There are three crucial results of this study. Briefly, they are:

    1. Only a small number of children who are struggling to learn actually have language and/or learning disabilities. Most of them need to be intensively taught—not intensively tested.
    2. Under the new changes in IDEA 2004 and the overlapping principles of NCLB, SLPs may provide intervention for students who need our services, but are not in special education. One of the best ways to reduce paperwork is to effectively serve students while avoiding the procedures and processes inherent in special education. SLPs have much greater flexibility than we often think we do, and we remain key players in assessment and diagnosis—not just testing for special education eligibility.
    3. SLPs are vital members of the school team. We are focused on literacy, curricular standards, and functional outcomes. Good communication skills are the foundation for academic achievement—that is our role. It is what we do.

JB: To me, the significant results are that overall, students who had not responded to other forms of intervention as a whole responded well to this intervention program. We have evidence of that in a number of ways:

  • Reduced or absent referrals to special education
  • Positive increases in classroom language skills
  • Improvement in scores on the GRADE

The success of programs like this is felt by educators, SLPs, and most importantly, the students we help.

BM-B: These results show what went well in this project—students learned without having to be placed in special education. The RTI program has become an integral part of how business is done in the El Rancho School District, and has grown in popularity since the test was conducted. It is now part of the culture of the school district. For example, the principals asked that we use the program with all of our summer school classes in general education this past summer. This was a huge step in the right direction, and the parents within the school district are very pleased.

For SLPs, RTI is a whole new way to do business. It means many possibilities for SLPs to change how we bring students into our caseloads, as well as how we reintroduce ourselves into the school site in a prevention mode. RTI allows us to gain control over assessments and the problem of too many referrals. It allows us to provide education to teachers and parents, as well as students.

What are your suggestions for SLPs in working with RTI models and participating in research/evidence-based practice?

JM: As SLPs, we are fortunate to provide services to children within a discipline that has a very robust research and practice base. Not everyone in special education today can say that. It is important for all of us to periodically review our intervention strategies and be sure that we are using the most current ideas and research findings. The field never stands still—it is constantly evolving. The new RTI models are based on the portions of our highly prized research that reject cognitive referencing and mechanistic language functioning, embrace rapid automatic naming, and incorporate intense mass-practice, metacognitive skills and executive function. These are the ways we can reach the most students in the best way possible.

What other thoughts would you like to share with your fellow SLPs about the research experience?

JM: Not all of us can conduct research in our work place. Quite frankly, not all of us should. In fact, our role as practitioners is not to experiment, but rather to carefully match what we know to be good practice with the temperament, interests, and values of each of our clients. This requires us to read widely, engage in meaningful professional growth experiences, and attend professional conferences. In turn, this lets us constantly seek more effective ways to help students communicate well enough to achieve and enjoy the companionship of family and friends. Language is a pervasive part of each life, and SLPs can serve as the glue that unites the child with his or her environment.

BM-B: This project was very exciting for all of us. It is great so see that we can do research in schools with such meaningful results. We couldn’t have done it without the help of everyone on the team, and from the school district’s principals and interventionist, who were willing to try something new in order to provide the greatest opportunities for their students.

Resources

Moore-Brown, B.J., Montgomery, J.K., Bielinski, J. & Shubin, J. (2005). Responsiveness to Intervention: Teaching before Testing Helps Avoid Labeling. Top Lang Disorders, 25.2, 148-67.

4 Ways SLPs Can Use Evidence Based Research Every Day


Language is the basis of all literacies. Scholars in speech-language pathology, reading, and linguistics have recently penned the same sentiments (Juel & Deffes, 2004; Moats, 2001; Shaywitz, 2003; Wallach, 2004). This agreement has consequently empowered the Reading First component of No Child Left Behind legislation (2001), and brought thousands of speech-language pathologists (SLP) in schools into the center of literacy acquisition (ASHA, 2001). Today’s clinician is creating interventions that integrate oral and written communication with much broader definitions of language and literacy (Apel, 1999). It is only logical for SLPs to turn to the reading research to see what can be applied to their field. The “evidence-based practice” (EBP) of reading research comes from what is known as “scientifically based reading research” (SBRR). Here are just a few propositions from SBRR which have significant value for speech-language pathology.

  • Oral language is closely linked to early reading success (Juel & Deffes, 2004).
  • While successful readers in first grade have 20,000 word receptive vocabularies, their struggling counterparts often command less than 5,000 words (Moats, 2001).
  • Failure to read by nine years of age, typically results in a lifetime of functional illiteracy for 70% of poor readers (Shaywitz, 2003).
  • There are four ways to learn to read words-contextual predicting, letter-sound decoding, analogy, and visual memory (Cunningham, 2000; Gaskins, 2004).

There are many more such statements which serve as strong links between language and literacy (Wallach, 2004). It is reassuring to see the five components of spoken language—phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics—heralded as foundational to the reading act. These literacy links add a rich dimension to speech and language intervention programs and guide clinicians as they write educationally relevant language goals.

But close adherence to SBRR also invites some cautions for all practitioners, including the SLP. Pressley (2003) posed 12 ways in which reading research, by the very nature of collecting the reading data produce skewed results. Four of those common research conditions are selected for discussion below. They apply equally well to speech and language efforts to produce solid clinical research.

  1. Replications of studies, though roundly lauded, are expensive and time consuming . . . and maybe we already know what they will find. It may not be wise to repeat experiments on the same topics to confirm the same information, when we all recognize that reading and language are such large and complex landscapes to explore.
  2. Strategies must be tried on all populations if we are going to assert that “it works.” We cannot assume that if an intervention works for one clinical group, or one age group, it will work for another. Broad applicability requires broad experimentation.
  3. Old studies look at old conditions. We need to be cautious when we cite tried and true (old) data. It is not that these approaches are ineffective because they were validated long ago-it is simply that times have changed and children are in a much more complex environment today. Learning occurs in different ways.
  4. Good classroom or group management greatly influences the results of studies. We know when clinicians closely control student behaviors, speech and language interventions are observed to be more effective than the same treatment in a potentially confusing environment. Group management does matter. Motivation matters. Neither SBRR nor similar speech and language research have systematically measured or reported the classroom or therapy milieu when comparing interventions.

Although humans have been listening and speaking for the last 20,000 years, they have not needed to learn to read and write until the last 300 years (Moats & Rosow, 2003). Within that time, reading has been systematically studied in this country for about 60 years (Lyon & Chhabra, 2004) and language for perhaps 35 years (Wallach, 2004). Several reading researchers have declared that we now have enough evidence to conclude that some reading instruction is effective and some is not (Lyon & Chhandra, 2004; Shaywitz & Shaywitz, 2004). Are speech and language researchers prepared to say the same about child language? Is the current research compelling enough? Has it all been studied? Has it all been said?

References

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, (2001). Position statement on the roles and responsibilities of speech-language pathologists with regard to reading and writing in children and adolescents (Position statement, executive summary of guidelines, technical report). ASHA Supplement, 21, 17-27.

Apel, K. (1999). Checks and balances: Keeping science in our profession. Language Speech and Hearing Services in Schools. 30, 98-107.

Cunningham, P.M. (2000). Phonics they use: Words for reading and writing (3rd Ed). New York: Longman.

Gaskins, I.W. (2004). Word detectives. Educational Leadership: What Research Says about Reading. 61 (6), 70-73.

Juel, C. & Deffes, R. (2004). Making words stick. Educational Leadership: What Research Says about Reading. 61 (6), 30-34.

Lyon, G.R. & Chhandra, V. (2004). The science of reading research. Educational Leadership: What Research Says about Reading. 61 (6), 13-17.

Moats, L. (2001, Summer). Overcoming the language gap. American Educator, 5-9.

Moats, L. & Rosow, B. (2003). Spellography. Longmont, CO: Sopris West.

No Child Left Behind Act (2001). http://www. ed.gov/nclb/

Pressley, M. (2003). A few things reading educators should know about instructional experiments. The Reading Teacher, 57 (1).

Shaywitz S.E. (2003). Overcoming dyslexia. New York: Knopf.

Shaywitz, S.E. & Shaywitz, B. A. (2004). Reading disability and the brain. Educational Leadership: What Research Says about Reading. 61 (6), 7-11.

Wallach, G. (2004). Over the brink of the millennium: Have we said all we can say about language-based learning disabilities? Communication Disorders Quarterly. 25 (2), 44-55.

Reprint permission

Reprinted from the February/March 2005 issue of CSHA Magazine with permission from the California Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the author.

Meet Judy Montgomery


It’s clear that Judy Montgomery loves her work. When she discusses children, literacy, and the role that speech-language professionals can play, her excitement is contagious. And when she declares that she got involved with literacy because, “you can’t NOT be,” her enthusiasm makes the listener want to get involved as well.

Judy Montgomery has had a number of roles in her career. She has worked in the Los Angeles, Santa Ana, and Fountain Valley School Districts in California, as a speech-language pathologist, a general education principal, and a special education administrator. In addition, she has contributed to a variety of committees for the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), as a California state representative to the ASHA legislative council, and on the Executive Board as vice president. In 1995, she served as ASHA’s president, one of only three ASHA presidents to come from the public school setting.

Now an Associate Professor of Special Education in the School of Education at Chapman University, Montgomery teaches graduate level classes and works on her own special projects. She believes that all children have a right to learn to read. For some, this is a real struggle. Montgomery illustrates this with statistics from 1998 Congressional testimony by Dr. Reid Lyon, of the National Institute of Health. She notes, “Five percent of children know how to read before they begin school. Thirty percent learn to read, no matter who the teacher is, no matter what the program. But 60 percent must be taught to read, and they can find it a real struggle.”

Shaped by print

Montgomery believes that from the time children learn to recognize the letters in their own names, they are shaped by print. This is early in the learning process, in a stage that she calls emergent. At this stage, young readers realize they have power as readers. They can understand information in printed form, and use this information to interact with the world around them.

From there, readers advance through three other stages. Early readers expand their understanding of words in print, and learn how to express themselves in written form as well. Once they are comfortable with reading and writing as a primary form of communication, they are fluent readers-the stage where most young people and adults spend the majority of their reading time. The final stage is the mature reader, who engages in literary criticism, high level metaphor and simile, and rigorous questioning of a text. Most of us apply mature reading skills when necessary (to challenging essays or articles, for instance), but revert to fluent reading habits for less rigorous tasks (such as novels, grocery lists, and driving directions).

Some children, however, enter the emergent reading stage and stay there for a long time. These are the children who spark Montgomery’s interest. “As a professional,” she says, “I do not believe there are nonreaders. These individuals are emergent readers.”

Students who remain in the emergent stage-reading at a rudimentary level, or recognizing only some letters and favorite words, without connecting them to meaningful thoughts-receive significant attention in their early school years. However, if they do not eventually move into the early reading stage, some are allowed to stop trying. Montgomery deplores this. “What a terrible abandonment. When does one give up on a child?” she asks.

For her, the answer is clearly, “Never.” She believes that speech-language professionals have the responsibility to keep striving to help all children, especially those with disabilities, develop their literacy skills. She knows that some of her colleagues agree with her, while others feel this is an unrealistic goal. For Montgomery, though, young people whose lives are not shaped by print are simply missing out on too much.

Getting involved

For speech-language professionals who would like to get involved with literacy-or any other cause-through activity in ASHA, Montgomery has some advice. “ASHA is a wonderful organization, filled with committed professionals, and it has a great vision,” she notes, but she also points out that getting involved can be a lot of work.

Her own involvement began after she completed her Master’s degree. ASHA had been a major resource for her early studies in augmentative communication, and she’d been impressed by the broad base of knowledge available in the organization. When she began to serve on committees in her home state of California, she realized why. The base of knowledge comes from the rich variety of experience brought by members from all over the country.

This is the special challenge for speech-language professionals who work with children and promote literacy. “Of the 60 percent who struggle with reading, 20 percent will always struggle. These are children with special needs, language disabilities, cognitive limitations, emotional problems, depression, or English language learners.”

After whetting her appetite with work on state committees and offices, Montgomery became President of the California Speech-Language Hearing Association (CSHA). From there, it was a short step to the presidencies of the California Council of Administrators in Special Education (CASE), and then the United States Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (USSAAC). She remains active in professional groups and currently serves on the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD).

To anyone who wants to become involved with ASHA, Montgomery says, “It’s a noble goal, but not an easy one. Get involved at the state level. Talk to people and read, read, read! Learn the issues and actions. Then go to your state conferences and prepare yourself to represent your state at the national level.”

In her many roles within ASHA and other professional organizations, and in her own work for children’s literacy, Judy Montgomery has served many, many children and adults. She believes that her clients have benefited from her variety of involvement and experience. “Your lens becomes broader as you work with others and learn from them. Ultimately, your clients aren’t being served by just one clinician, but many.” And in Judy Montgomery’s case, she and her clients have been touched by the whole of ASHA-and vice versa.

In addition to her own work and presentation schedule, Judy Montgomery is a trainer for the Comprehensive Assessment of Spoken Language (CASL). For more information on CASL presentations, please go to http://ags.pearsonassessments.com/casl/

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