Common Core Early Language Screener


The Common Core Early Language Screener (CCELS) was developed by speech-language pathologists in order to evaluate and describe the early language skills of children.
Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were designed to help students transfer learning from one context to another, and to help students gain success in the global marketplace (Power-deFur, 2015). Using CCSS to identify weaknesses in early language skills is critical for ensuring academic success.
Children who struggle with language often lack the skills necessary for complex learning. Because language is an integral part of instruction, these children often fall behind those who have mastered the necessary skills (Ellis, Schlaudecker & Regimbal, 1995). Unfortunately, this often results in the “Mathew Effect” as described by Stanovich (1986) and Walberg & Tsai (1983). In this situation, the child who is already struggling falls farther behind while the child who has mastered the skills continues to make progress. Early recognition and remediation of a child’s struggle with language may reduce the negative educational impact.

CCELS-ipad CCELS-app

CCELS is based on CCSS and includes a narrative report. It is a wonderful tool for progress monitoring the various “I Can” statements required by CCSS.
What it does!
Common Core Early Language Screener (CCELS) is a quick screening tool created to help assess the language skills in children from preschool age to first grade.
Designed by certified speech-language pathologists, CCELS uses technology to engage clients while assessing their language skills based on CCSS.
CCELS is sure to be a great app for the busy

The Common Core State Standards assessed by the app are separated into three levels: Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, and First Grade. The standards assessed in each area are dependent on the “grade” level selected when setting a student up for the screening.


Pre-Kindergarten Level: This level contains 14 subtests with basic skills such as personal questions (name, age, gender), labeling, colors, shapes, counting, alphabet, etc.

Kindergarten Level: This level contains 15 subtests including phonemic awareness (segmentation, rhyming), categories, patterns, prepositions, and comparative vocabulary.

First Grade level: This level explores the skills needed for success in reading and language arts, including capitalization, phoneme blending, using digraphs/blends, multiple meaning words, reading sentences, and expressive language.


For each area assessed, a score higher than 85% is considered “mastered” and a score between 65- 85% is considered “emerging.” A score below 65% is considered “not achieved.” To make report writing easier, the scores for each area are listed with percentage accuracy, a correct/total tally, and a narrative descriptor.
How to Use the App
Getting Started
The CCELS was designed with busy clinicians in mind. To begin a new screening, simply tap on the “New Screening” button found in the bottom right-hand corner of the home page.
To see a list of previous screenings and view reports, tap on “Past Screenings” in the bottom center of the home page.
To print paper forms needed for the assessment, simply tap on “Print Forms” found in the lower left-hand side of the screen.
As with all Smarty Ears apps, the home page also boasts a “Support” page where the professional can watch the video tutorial, read the manual, and reach out to customer support.

The “Settings” tab allows the professional to pre-populate report settings for the school name, evaluator name, and credentials. This area also allows the professional to determine the report format (PDF or Text) and to control the animation/audio prompts of the screening.

To Begin the Screening
A tap on the lower right-hand side tab “New Screening” will cause a new window to display. This window will prompt the professional to complete the required information to build a student profile. This includes name, date of birth, and grade level.
The grade level selected here will determine the skills assessed.
A tap on the “Next” button begins the screening.

To Pause Screening
At any page, the screening can be paused and continued later. Simply tap on the Pause button in the top-left corner of the page.
The professional will be asked if the screening is to be marked complete and a report generated, or if the progress is to be saved to be continued later.


Pausing the screening and saving the prog-ress will create an “In-complete” file in the “Past Screenings” area. Simply tap on the “Complete Screening” to start the screening from the paused page.
Understanding the Testing Screen

There are several different types of screens used during the screening.
This screen provides a descriptor of the task as well as a prompt for the professional to say.
The professional selects the correct “score” by tapping the gray numbered box.
This skill can be “skipped” if the professional does not want to assess it, or deems it too difficult for the student.
A tap on the “next” button brings up the next page of the screener.


In this screen, the professional is given a prompt of what to say to the student. The professional can then choose to “skip” the task, or go to the next page to display the words. The following page includes the scoring buttons to indicate the number of correctly read words.


In this screen, the student is asked to select the correct vowel. The app automatically tracks what vowel was selected and scores accordingly.

In this 1st grade screen, the student is asked to complete the sentence by selecting on the correct word. The sentence is automatically scored.

On this 1st grade screen, the student is asked to provide two meanings for each word. The professional taps on the circles for each meaning.
The app automatically scores the number of circles filled.

This screen requires the student to use the paper screening form available from within the app.
The professional is given the prompts to read to the student.

This is part of the expressive language portion of the screening.

Interpreting Results
The CCELS automatically scores each skill based on the professional’s input. The results are shown provided in a comprehensive report.


First, the report will provide the demographics of each assessment including student name, date of birth, age, grade, and the credentials of the individual administering the screening.
The report then includes a narrative describing the screener and how to intrepret the results.
Finally, the app will automatically provide a breakdown by skill.
The list of skills assessed will vary depending on the grade level selected at the beginning of the assessment.
The app will also provide a list of common core state standardes that have been mastered.


Sharing Results
The professional can e-mail the results of the screening immediately after administration. To email the results information, tap on the “share” button found in the lower right hand corner on the Report screen.
A pop-up screen will display with options for sharing results by e-mail, exporting the results to the Therapy Report Center, opening in another app of your choice (e.g., dropbox, PDF viewer), or printing.
Users can e-mail the results to themselves in order to save for their records and keep a backup of the student’s assessment, or to send to the parents. The e-mail is set up as a simple report and can be edited text or a PDF.

Video Tutorial
The CCELS has the following features.
– Common Core State Standards aligned
– On screen prompts for the professional
– Tests most basic skills needed for school readiness
– Ability to import to Therapy Report Center for ease of report writing and progress monitoring
– Evaluator and Student screening forms available to be printed
– Video tutorial
– Clear, bright, fun pictures
– The ability to pause and continue screening later without losing data
– Easily review past reports
– Search feature on the reports page
– Provides a report with collected data automatically added to narrative
– Ability to e-mail and/or print test results immediately after its administration

Mary Huston,
“There are guidelines as to what to say for prompts, all pictures and stimuli are present in the app, which is really nice…One thing I absolutely love is that this does seem to follow the Common Core Standards for what children are expected to know for kindergarten language standards”
Pat Mervine,
“Armed with my iPad and this new Common Core Early Language Screener, I can now do articulation and language screening in a format that the little ones respond well to, that produce useful reports, and that keep my travel light. And, as with the Sunny Articulation Test, there are no test protocols to purchase, ever. Love it!”
“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.”
Elizabeth Gretz,
“The analyzing of data that this app provides is extremely helpful in determining what comes next for short term goals and what goals have been mastered.”

Interpreting Results
Ellis, L., Schlaudecker, C., & Regimbal, C. (1995), Effectiveness of a collaborative consultation instruction with kinder garten children. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 26, 69-74.
Power-deFur, L. (2015). Common core state standards and the speech-language pathologist: Standards-based inter vention for special populations. San Diego, CA. Plural Publishing.
Stanovich, K. E. (1986). Matthew effects in reading: Some consequences of individual differences in the acquisition of literacy. Reading Research Quarterly, 21, 360-407. Retrieved from:
Walberg, H. J., & Tsai, S. (1983). Matthew effects in education. American Educational Research Journal, 20, 359-373. Retrieved from: