When visiting a doctor's office for the first time, we all expect to fill out a few forms that basically ask the same things. Banks ask the same types of questions before giving out loans. Standardized tests, for good or ill, have become common practice in school. We have come to expect that everyone who visits the doctor, the bank, or the school will fill out the same forms or complete the same required protocols. Standard practices haven't always been standard, though. Advances in the field and necessity have led to the development of these standards over time. It is wise to examine and refine practices occasionally, especially when the well-being of other people is involved.
Recently, a group within the American Speech and Hearing Association tackled the task of defining a standard protocol for assessing clients who visit speech pathology clinics. The benefits of standardizing practices include better data collection for research purposes and easier information sharing between speech pathologists and doctors working in different offices. The linked article describes the process and conclusions found by the group.
Voice teachers currently have no agreed upon standards when assessing new students, yet we often have the same goals in mind. It still may take many years for the kinds of protocols commonplace in other professions to be expected among voice teachers. However, we work with living people who are susceptible to injury. While the course of study from one student to another can never be standardized, the things we ask each client at the beginning of their study could be developed into an accepted protocol. This could lead to better data collection for research purposes and help for a smoother transition when changing teachers. Now is a great time to examine and refine professional practices among voice teachers. Standardizing student intakes would be a great place to start.