ADE Director's Communication Memo Form

Memo Number : LS-07-031

Date Created : 08/30/2006


Co-op Directors
other: All Principals
LEA Supervisors
Eval. Staff
Special Ed Teachers
Speech Paths
Speech Paths Aides/Assists.

Type of Memo: Informational
Response Required: No
Section:   Learning Services - Dr. Laura Bednar, Assistant Commissioner
Special Ed Programs: Professional Development Opportunity

Regulatory Authority:
IDEA (codified at 20 U.S.C.A. Sec. 1400 et seq.)

Contact Person:
Ms. Shelly Wier, CCC-SLP

Phone Number:


The Easter Seals Outreach Program is pleased to host Christina Sparks, Ph.D., Clinical Measurement Consultant with PsychCorp in presenting “Dialect Is Not Disorder,” a workshop that will address how dialect issues can affect student literacy, reading, speech/language diagnoses, overall achievement, standardized test performance, and progress in work and life. Too often dialect speakers become frustrated at being told their speech or language is “incorrect,” which can lead to behavior difficulties and giving up on reading or school altogether. These language differences have far reaching consequences for children, as well as for schools in meeting annual yearly progress and determining appropriate student services. While these students may need assistance to fully understand differences between standard and dialect speech, when and where to use it (code-switching), and how it can interfere with school success, it is also important that these students, as well as the caregivers and teachers, understand that dialect speech is not wrong and is appropriate to use with friends and family.

This workshop will also review brief dialect assessment and intervention within general education and how this can facilitate success for these students. It will address dialect considerations within special education when students are referred for assessment for a possible speech or language impairment, learning disability or other impairment. Appropriate dialect consideration and assessment can prevent over-identification of students for special education services and guide intervention for communication, reading, and overall achievement. Use and administration of the screening and norm-referenced (NR) versions of the Diagnostic Evaluation of Language Variation (DELV) will be reviewed. Unique assessment tools, the DELV Screener can identify the presence of dialect, while the DELV-NR may be used (much like the CELF-4) as a comprehensive language evaluation of students within any ethnic group, since it focuses on common language elements without reference to standard American English.

Christina Sparks, Ph.D. has been a Birmingham-based Clinical Measurement Consultant for PsychCorp since May 2005. Dr. Sparks earned her Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) and is a former Clinical Faculty member at Brown University School of Medicine. Dr. Sparks has practiced in a variety of settings and with a variety of populations ranging from private practice to primary care clinics to hospitals (general and psychiatric). Dr. Sparks has consulted with SLPs, physicians, educators, physical therapists, clients, students, parents, and colleagues. In addition to extensive practice experience, Dr. Sparks has taught and lectured. One focus of work over the years across settings has been assessment and its appropriate use to target effective assistance and provide pragmatic consultation to others working with patients, students, and clients. Dr. Sparks is a native of Alabama, who, when her demanding cats allow, enjoys gardening, bluegrass music, and crafts.

This workshop will take place on September 7, 2006, from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, 2301 South University Avenue in Little Rock. Five and a half Continuing Professional Education hours (5.5 CPEs) will be available for the Speech-Language Pathologists attending, with certificates of attendance provided to all participants for the 5.5 clock hours of professional development. There is no registration fee for this workshop.

To register, please complete and return the attached registration form to:

Shelly Wier, Workshop Registration
Easter Seals Outreach Program
3920 Woodland Heights Road
Little Rock, AR 72212

To register by phone call 501-227-3770, fax at 501-227-3771, or email Shelly or Rene at or, respectively.

For directions to the U of A Cooperative Extension Service in Little Rock, go to:


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