Screening early language skills using the iPad is now possible via the Common Core Early Language Screener (CCELS)

A quick search through the web and the App Store can give any clinician the impression that majority of the SLP apps out there are either for therapy or for record keeping.  The iPad has addressed the problem of carrying paper-based–and oftentimes heavy–materials from one client to another, that is, until one is called to do screening and assessment.  We have not seen a good language screening app online, until we saw the CCELS:  Common Core Early Language Screener by Smarty Ears.

Based from the common core standards that were set in the U.S., the CCELS was designed to screen the language skills of children between pre-kindergarten to kindergarten levels.  After the evaluator has entered basic student information for a New Screening, he/she can set what skills level need to be assessed by choosing the grade level.

Skills assessed by the CCELS. (Source:

We took the CCELS for a test drive and entered the necessary information in order to start the screening.  As we went through the CCELS using Pre-Kindergarten, Beginning Kindergarten, and Ending Kindergarten, it was apparent that the skills assessed were different at each level.  We had to familiarize ourselves with the screener prior to administering the app as each step had its own set of instructions on how to administer and score.  There are, for the most part, three screens:

  • the Instructions screen
  • the Stimuli screen
  • the Scoring screen

The Instructions Screen contains:

  • the header: the area being screened (for example:  Actions).  Also contains the Home button.
  • the body, which contains:
    • the task:  (Now you will have the student label the pictures:)
    • the prompt/s:  (Can you name these pictures? What is this?)
    • the instructions:  (Click next to display pictures & present them to the child.)
  • the footer:  holds the following buttons:
    • Back button: brings the user to the previous task
    • Skip button: brings the user to the next task
    • Next button: allows one to proceed to the picture/figure/word stimuli

Click Next and one enters the Stimuli screen.  Click Next again and number buttons appear, allowing one to tap and assign a score for the task.

It was apparent that a good amount of foresight went into the designing of the CCELS.  We appreciated the following features:

  • one-time entry of institution and evaluator name:  this option is under Settings.  Entering information via Settings ensures that these names will appear in all reports generated via the CCELS.
  • text or PDF:  choose whether the report to be generated will be text-version or inPDF format
  • print forms:  hook up the iPad to an AirPrint printer and print an Evaluator Form or a Child Sheet
  • option to resume and complete screening at another time:  access this option via Past Screenings, and it will show you which screenings have been finished and which ones are still pending.
  • option to conclude the screening and skip subsequent items:  If you click on the Home button in the middle of the screening, the app asks you if you want to:
    • complete the assessment and generate a report
    • save progress and continue later
  • generate a report:  the report contains:the client’s basic information as entered in the New Screening screen
    • when the client’s early language skills was screened, the tool’s name and purpose, etc.
    • grade level selected for the client
    • (in table format) language skills, percent accuracy, and ratio of correct answers to total questions asked.

The CCELS is easy to use, the fonts were big and readable, the pictures colorful and easy to process visually, the instructions clear and concise.  The Generate Report feature never failed to elicit smiles from our fellow speech-language pathologists each time we showed the app off to them.  Except for a bit of a lag in a couple of tasks (we used an iPad 2), the CCELS is an awesome gift to us who are often called to do a quick screening and we just so happened to have an iPad on hand.  We all know the iPad is a great investment, but having a screening tool such as the CCELS in it boosts its usefulness and value in our work.

Price: $ 34.99 
Weight: 65.9 MB
Updated: 9 August 2012
Version: 1.0
Compatible with: iPad
Seller: Smarty Ears, LLC
Target Population: children
Awesome if you want to:
  • screen early language skills
Customer Ratings (iTunes): 4+ out of 5 stars
iSPeak App says: 4+ out of 5 smileys