Consistency among Language Assessment Tools used in Kindergarten

  • Author / Creator
    Salvador, Nicole Denise
  • Despite research indicating long-term risks associated with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD; Anderson et al., 2016; Bishop et al., 2016; Winstanley et al., 2018), there is still uncertainty whether children with language difficulties/DLD in the preschool years may outgrow their language difficulties by school entry. The focus of this study is on the course of development and identification of needs at kindergarten age using different language assessment tools in children with a history of struggling with language development in the preschool years.
    There is some research that historically reported a substantial rate of recovery occurring in kindergarten (Bishop & Edmundson, 1987). Still others further suggested that recovery around kindergarten age may be illusory (Scarborough & Dobrich, 1990). These studies are several decades old and require further follow up within our current clinical context.
    Method. We followed a case series design, looking at 4 5-year-old children who were diagnosed with severe language delays (language difficulties / risk of DLD in current terminology) prior to kindergarten entry. Six different assessments targeting different dimensions of language were administered on each child: a standardized assessment tool, language sample analysis (LSA) measures, parent report, narrative task, emergent literacy tasks, and a sentence repetition task.
    Results. The results were analyzed in two ways: (1) how likely each participant would have been flagged for further evaluation given their results, and (2) how frequently each measure indicated concern across the participants. Our findings revealed that when commonly used assessments were examined, half of our participants would not have been put in a range of concern; however, when we looked at a broader range of assessments, only 1 out of the four children was likely to be in a range of no concern. When a more conservative set of criteria was adopted (following Bishop & Edmundson, 1987), none of the children met the “recovered” outcome. Several assessments were more likely to indicate ongoing concerns at this age: (1) LSA measures namely MLU, and sentence complexity, and as well, (2) measures of emergent literacy, and (3) sentence repetition.
    Conclusion. The results from this study showed that not only is recovery from DLD at kindergarten possible, but there can also be a scenario where a child’s recovery in some language skills is illusory when looking at an expanded set of language assessment tools. These findings emphasize the need for clinicians to re-evaluate their current assessment practices to better identify children with ongoing needs at kindergarten. Several insights on how clinicians, education and policy professionals move forward with continuity of services beyond kindergarten for children with DLD were discussed.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.