Monday, November 24, 2014

Danahy Ebert, K., & Scott C. M. (2014). Relationships between narrative language samples and norm-referenced test scores in language assessments of school-age children. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 45, 337–350.

Speech-language pathologists rely on a number of tools to complete comprehensive assessments of language abilities in school-age children. Two types of tools are norm-referenced tests and criterion-referenced tests. Norm-referenced tests assess broad language skill and allow clinicians to determine the child’s level of ability by comparing his performance to scores from a large sample of other children. In contrast, criterion-referenced tests offer in-depth information about a smaller set of language skills, but use more naturalistic tasks, such as recounting a narrative.

This study compared the performance of school-age children on a variety of norm-referenced tests and narrative language samples. The authors found that performance on the two types of assessments was more closely related for younger children (6–8 years) than for older children (9–12 years). The study also examined the extent to which the tests agreed on which children where considered to be impaired. Agreement of identification rates between different norm-referenced tests and different aspects of the narrative language samples ranged from 37% to 77%. This showed that some children were identified by both tests, while others were only identified by one type of test.

The authors conclude that age must be considered when selecting criterion-referenced tests because different types of naturalistic language tasks are more appropriate for different ages. They also suggest that clinicians continue to use both types of testing in their assessments in order to gather a wealth of information about each child’s language ability.

Blogger: Laura Pauls, MCISc-SLP

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