Assessment Area: Oral & Written Language Assessment of language competence should include evaluation of a student’s ability to process, both comprehension and expression of language in both spoken and written form. Why Assess Oral and Written Language? • The ability to converse and to express thoughts and feelings is a goal of most individuals. • Various language processes and skills are believed to underlie subsequent development. – Behavior Disorders – Learning Disorders – Reading Disorders What is the most valid method of evaluating a child’s language performance – especially when it comes to communication? There are 3 procedures used to gather a sample of a child’s language behavior: • Spontaneous Language • Imitation • Elicited Language Spontaneous Language Advantages: • Spontaneity is the best and most natural indicator of everyday language performance. • Informality makes assessment easy, no formal testing atmosphere. Spontaneous Language Disadvantages: • There is a non-standard nature to the data collected by this type of test. • This test can take a very long time to collect data. Imitation - Advantages: • Overcomes many of the problems associated with the spontaneous approach. • Assesses many different language elements to give a representative view of child’s language system. • Structure of the test allows examiner to know all elements of language being assessed. • Test can be administered much more quickly than with spontaneous tests. Imitation - Disadvantages: • Children’s auditory memory may effect the results – a child can score well by imitation without demonstrating productive knowledge of the language structures being tested. • A child can repeat exactly what is said if the utterance or sentence is too small requiring no memory processing. • Children become very bored and can’t sit still. There is no stimuli like pictures or toys present. Just the repetition of repeating 50 to 100 sentences after the examiner. Elicited Language • Pictures are used to elicit language production. This overcomes many of the disadvantages of spontaneous and imitation language methods. Elicited Language - Advantages: • Pictures can be structured to test desired language elements while retaining some of the spontaneous language samples. • Allows children to create language on their own. • There is no time limit so results do not depend on child’s word retention ability. Elicited Language - Disadvantages: • Difficult to find pictures to guarantee exact word or sentence response. • Child may not produce or attempt to produce the desired language structure. Summary of language gathering methods: • All three methods have merit. • Examiner needs to decide which one would best suit their needs based on what they are trying to assess. Some of the tests used in this area of Oral and Written Language are: • Test of Written Language – 4th (ed) (TOWL-4) • Test of Language Development: Primary – 4th edition (TOLD-P:4) • Test of Language Development: Intermediate – 4th edition (TOLD-I:4) • Oral an Written Language Scales (OWLS) • Test of Auditory Reasoning and Processing Skills (TARPS) Skills Measured • Oral Comprehension - (Listening and Comprehension speech) • Written Comprehension - (Reading) • Oral Expression - (Speaking) • Written Expression - (writing) The following tests are primarily used for diagnostic reasons versus general screening. Test of Written Language th 4 Edition (TOWL- 4) TOWL-4 is a norm-referenced device designed to assess the written language competence of students between the ages of 9-0 and 17-11. Recommended Uses • Identify students with substantial writing difficulties • Determine strengths and weaknesses • Document student progress • Conduct research Writing Formats • Contrived – students’ linguistic options are purposely constrained to force the students to pursue specific words or conventions. • Spontaneous – students’ linguistic options are spontaneous. Three components of written language • Conventional – using widely accepted rules in punctuation and spelling. • Linguistic – deals with syntactic and semantic structures. • Cognitive – deals with producing “logical, coherent, and contextual written materials.” Seven Sub-tests • First five use contrived formats • Sub-test 6 and 7 use spontaneous formats Contrived Sub Tests • Vocabulary – The student writes a sentence that incorporates a stimulus word. E.g.: For ran, a student writes, “I ran up the hill.” • Spelling – The student writes sentences from dictation, making proper use of spelling rules. • Punctuation – The student writes sentences from dictation, making proper use of punctuation and capitalization rules. • Logical Sentences – The student edits an illogical sentence so that it makes better sense. E.g.: “John blinked his nose” is changed to “John blinked his eye.” • Sentence Combining – The student integrates the meaning of several short sentences into one grammatically correct written sentence. E.g.: “John drives fast” is combined with “John has a red car,” making “John drives his red car fast.” Spontaneous Sub-tests • Contextual Conventions – The student writes a story in response to a stimulus picture. Points are earned for satisfying specific arbitrary requirements relative to orthographic (E.g.: punctuation, spelling) and grammatical conventions (E.g.: sentence construction, noun-verb agreement). • Story Composition – The student’s story is evaluated relative to the quality of its composition (E.g.: vocabulary, plot, prose, development of characters, and interest to the reader). Reliability • 2 out of the subtests were at .90 and the story composition came in at .80 • Overall Interscore reliability is quite good for this type of test. Validity It’s borderline although there is support that it is useful in identifying students with literacy difficulties however it’s not very helpful in identifying specific written language literacy difficulties. Test of Language Development: Primary – Fourth Ed. (TOLD P:4) TOLD P:4 is a norm-referenced, non-timed, individually administered test. Intended to be used with children ages 4-0 and 8-11 years. Recommended Uses • Identify children who are significantly lower their peers in oral language proficiency • Determine a child’s specific strengths and weaknesses in oral language skills • Document progress in remedial programs • Measure oral language research studies Nine Sub-Tests • Each measures different components of oral language • Six subtest are considered core subtests and their scores are combined to form composite scores. – Semantics and grammar – Listening – Organizing – Speaking – Overall language ability • Remaining subtests contain phonology and are excluded from the composite scores – Purpose to create clear separation between speech competence and language competence. Composite Sub-tests 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Picture vocabulary - measures understanding of the meaning of spoken English words (semantics, listening) Relational vocabulary - measures understanding and ability to orally express the relationships between two spoken stimulus words (semantics, organizing) Oral vocabulary - measures ability to give oral directions to common English words that are spoken by the examiner (semantics, speaking) Syntactic understanding - measures ability to comprehend the meaning of sentences (grammar, listening) Sentence imitation - measures ability to imitate English sentences (grammar, organizing) Morphological completion - measures ability to recognize, understand, and use common English morphological forms (grammar, speaking) Non-Composite Sub-test 1. Word discrimination - measures ability to recognize the differences in significant speech sounds (phonology, listening) 2. Word analysis - measures ability to segment words into smaller phonemic units (phonology, organizing) 3. Word articulation - measures ability to utter important English speech sounds (phonology, speaking) Reliability The TOLD P:4 appears to meet and often exceed the standards for reliability with all coefficients exceeding 0.90 Validity The validity of the test is comparable to three other oral language measured tests which are pragmatic language observation scale, TOLD – I:4, WISC-IV Verbal Composite. Correlations were moderate and standard deviations were earned. Test of Language Development: Intermediate – Fourth Ed. (TOLD I:4) TOLD I:4 is a norm-referenced, non-timed, individually administered test. Intended to be used with children ages 8-0 and 17-11 years. Recommended Uses • Identify children who are significantly lower their peers in oral language proficiency • Determine a child’s specific strengths and weaknesses in oral language skills • Document progress in remedial programs • Measure oral language research studies Six Sub-tests • Measure different components of semantics and grammar. • Six subtest are converted to standard scores for each test then converted to composite scores. – Semantics and grammar – Listening – Organizing – Speaking – Overall language ability 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Sentence combining. The child is required to form one compound or complex sentence from two or more simple sentences spoken by the examiner. Picture vocabulary. The child points to the picture that best represents a series of two-word items. Word ordering. The child forms a complete, correct sentence from a randomly-ordered string of words, ranging from three to seven in length. Relational vocabulary. The child tells how three words, spoken by the examiner, are alike. Morphological comprehension. The child distinguishes between grammatically correct and incorrect sentences. Multiple meanings. The examiner says a word and the student responds by saying as many different meanings for that word as he/she can think of. Reliability TOLD-I:4 appears to meet and often exceed the standards for reliability for making screening and diagnostic decisions. The coefficients for reliability exceed 0.90 Validity Unlike the TOLD – P:4, there is good evidence for construct validity of this test which is based on oral language ability which is known to be related to literacy and this test has a high correlation with reading and writing abilities. Oral and Written Language Scales (OWLS) • Individually administered assessment of receptive and expressive language. • Test includes three scales: - Listening Comprehension - Oral Expression - Written Expression Recommended uses: Ages 3 - 21 • To determine broad levels of language skills and specific performance in listening, speaking, and writing. • Create intervention plans, and monitor student progress scores can be converted to obtain age equivalents/percentiles, etc. Subtests: • Listening Comprehension • Oral Expression • Written Expression Listening Comprehension Takes appx. 5 – 15 min • Measures understanding of spoken language. • 111 items – examiner reads aloud a verbal stimulus. The student has to identify which 4 pictures is the best response to the stimulus. Oral Expression Takes appx: 5 –15 min • Measures understanding of and use of spoken language. • 96 items – examiner reads aloud a verbal stimulus and shows a picture. Student responds orally by either answering a question, completing a sentence, or generating one or more sentences. Written Expression Timed response test • Measures ability of students 5-21 yrs old regarding use spelling, punctuation, syntax – sentence structure, phrases, etc., and communicate with appropriate content, coherence, organization, etc. • The student responds to direct writing prompts by the examiner. Reliability • There are wide ranges in reliability coefficients for this test. • Results of this test are sufficient to use as a screening device but are not sufficient to use in making important decisions about individual students. Validity Authors of this test report that the validity studies comparing these subtests to established criterion measured tests were similar in performance and within the expected range of validity. Test of Auditory Reasoning and Processing Skills (TARPS) • Individually administered to students\ ages 5 to 14 • 90 items total on test • Measures the level of a child’s thinking and reasoning. TARPS - Strengths • There are no subtests • Easy to administer • Easy to score • Makes student think • Anyone can administer this test • Inexpensive to purchase $75 for a kit (manual and booklets) TARPS Disadvantages Since test is not timed, examiner has to decide what is a reasonable amount of time child should be allowed to think about each question. Process for administering • It is total auditory. Administrator asks student every question. No paper or pencil is allowed. • Administrator scribes all answers to verify any questions after the fact. Scoring • Based out of 90 questions, there is a scale provided based on chronological age and amount of correct responses. Reliability • Coefficients range from 0.79 at age 5 to 0.89 at age 14. • Mean reliability is 0.87 at all age levels Validity of TARPS • Content validity – designed to provide sampling of individual’s auditory reasoning and processing skills. • Item validity – free from bias regarding sex of subject. Final items present difficulty levels appropriate for assessing a wide range of behavior in auditory reasoning and processing. • Criterion–related ability: correlates with the relationship of verbal intelligence tests sub tests of the WISC-III, WPPSI-R and the Word Opposites sub test of the Detroit Tests of Learning Apititude – 2nd edition (DTLA-2) Conclusion There are many diagnostic tools available to determine specific learning disabilities. We believe a combination of tests are necessary in order to receive an accurate analysis of a child’s learning disability.