Having trouble articulating this question (GFTA-3)?
December 19, 2017 5:32 AM   Subscribe

My 3 year old son was evaluated for speech articulation delays and got a GFTA-3 percentile of 21% (no raw score was given to us). The school is saying this is within normal range and are denying support. This seems.... surprising? Can anyone help me understand how a score of 21% is ok?
posted by papergirl to Education (11 answers total)
This site indicates that 21st percentile is within normal limits. It also says the GFTA-3 is a pass-refer test, so it makes sense that if he is within the average range, services would not be available. If it is impacting his ability to learn or interact with caregivers or peers, I'd push for a private screening that uses other measures as well. (My daughter was speech-delayed with no words at 22 months and did three years of speech therapy through a mix of school services and private therapy. For a 3-year-old boy scoring low-average, I'd personally wait it out unless it was impacting daily life.)
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 5:53 AM on December 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

21% doesn't mean he has 21% of normal speech, it just means that 79% of his peers are ahead of him. There is a lot of normal variation in all this stuff with kids, and I think the school is probably mostly right. At the 21st percentile, he is well within one standard deviation of the norm and will very likely catch up on his own. Look at it this way, a fifth of all the kids in his age group are more in need of special support than he is, and having more than one kid in five in such a program seems very excessive.

So yes, give him extra support at home, but probably don't worry too much.
posted by 256 at 5:54 AM on December 19, 2017 [13 favorites]

I just want to repeat the definition of percentile - that is not a score or an indication of a score, it's basically a ranking - if you lined up 100 kids in order of their score, your kid would be 21st from the bottom, or 79th.

But that doesn't actually tell you anything about his score - he could just be a few points down but a large number of kids completely ace it, or he could be worse - that depends on the details of this particular test.

I don't know anything about this test, but if 21st %ile was above the support limit, than more than 20% of (or 1 in 5) kids would qualify for extra support based on this test, and that's not usually how these things work - generally that's limited to a smaller portion of the population.
posted by brainmouse at 6:22 AM on December 19, 2017 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: In the interests of brevity, I left out some clearly crucial details:
-He's been evaluated privately; they recommended therapy
-He has a family history of speech delays that didn't resolve without support
-His dentist recommends therapy to address tongue thrusting
-He is very hard to understand and it is significantly impacting his relationship with teachers/peers/family.

The school is fixated on the 21%; how to I contextualize that within his whole picture to argue for support?

posted by papergirl at 6:39 AM on December 19, 2017

They probably think he has normal 3-year old articulation problems. Most 3-year olds are still learning to articulate, and the distribution is very uneven so 21% doesn't mean the same thing as it would on an IQ test. Here's the key graph from Peanut's link:
The standard deviation of standard scores in GFTA-2 is 15, as it is with other measures. However, this standard deviation cannot be interpreted in the same way. Articulation ability is not normally distributed in the general population in the same way as are many other abilities, such as intelligence or vocabulary knowledge, that can be measured with standard scores. With abilities that are normally distributed (represented by a bell-shaped curve), the range of scores within one standard deviation of the mean in either direction includes about 68 percent of the population, the range of two standard deviations includes about 95 percent, and the range of three standard deviations includes over 99 percent of the population. Comparisons between standard scores and percent of the general population cannot be made in this same way on GFTA-2 because the distribution of articulation errors across ages is greatly skewed and does not approach a normal distribution at most ages. To help examiners make the correct comparisons, the actual percentile rank of each age-based standard score is included.
All of that said, I would strongly encourage you to push back. My son had articulation problems and missed qualifying for early intervention by 1 point. He did end up qualifying for services a couple of years later, but it would have been great to get him started at an earlier age.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 6:40 AM on December 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

It isn't uncommon for people that don't qualify for public services to do private speech therapy.
posted by k8t at 7:11 AM on December 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer: They are correct that the 21st percentile is within the average range. Average is considered anything between the 16th and 84th percentile. "Average" in this case being a standard deviation on either side of the average for a normally distributed population. For schools, they typically provide services when children are more than a standard deviation below the mean. When it is an isolated articulation issue, that can be even trickier to document. Did they evaluate language more broadly or just look at articulation? If you're seeing more widespread difficulties with expressive language, one way to push back would be to ask for a more comprehensive evaluation looking at his expressive, receptive and pragmatic language skills. I would also totally recommend pursuing private services in the meantime and in addition to whatever the school can provide. He's in the years right now when intervention has the biggest impact down the road.
posted by goggie at 8:58 AM on December 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Get a recommendation from the pediateician for private speech therapy. Hopefully you have insurance that will pay for this. You may see a lot of improvement in his speech with few sessions.

Your son does not qualify for school services at this time. Which sucks. So you can get private therapy and you should through your son's doctor. The schools have pretty strict guide lines due to limited resources. I'd move on from school support until next year.
posted by Kalmya at 2:14 PM on December 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

With your additional details, I would absolutely find private therapy right away. It is SO much easier to work on it early. It's too bad that the schools will not offer services but private documentation can be important for receiving services later if they are still needed.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 4:31 PM on December 19, 2017

Best answer: In Ohio, you're entitled to something called an IEE if you disagree with the results of a school district-administered test. It stands for Individual Educational Evaluation at Public Expense. This means you notify your district in writing that you disagree with the results of their evaluation and will be seeking an IEE. It's well worth finding out if your state allows for this. I believe most do. Go to your state department of education website and poke around.

The first time I did this with our school district they acted all shocked that I even knew this was an option. But suddenly they were a lot more responsive to me and even a little deferential. It was like ... she's on to us, we can't push this family around. Basically they HAVE to comply with your request. Then you line up a private expert (I highly recommend one based at a university rather than an independent person operating out of a storefront) and they evaluate your child. Your district foots the bill for this and then you all meet to go over the results.

Send me a memail if you want more information on this process. I have become very versed in what special ed kids are entitled to. Sometimes school districts need a little nudge towards doing the right thing and knowing your rights helps make that happen.
posted by Kangaroo at 4:43 PM on December 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Correction: IEE stands for Independent Educational Evaluation .. not Individual. My apologies for the error.
posted by Kangaroo at 6:30 PM on December 19, 2017

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