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Norm-referenced language test selection (Ogiela & Montzka, 2020)

journal contribution
posted on 02.10.2020 by Diane A. Ogiela, Jennifer L. Montzka
Purpose: Standardized norm-referenced tests are an important aspect of language assessment for school-age children. This study explored the language test selection practices of school-based speech-language pathologists (SLPs) working with elementary school children suspected of having developmental language disorder. Specifically, we investigated which tests were most commonly selected as clinicians’ first-choice and follow-up tests, which factors impacted their test selection decisions, and what sources of information they used to determine the psychometric quality of tests.
Method: School-based SLPs completed a web-based questionnaire regarding their use of norm-referenced language tests. A total of 370 elementary school SLPs completed the questionnaire.
Results: The vast majority of participants indicated that omnibus language tests are their first choice of test. For follow-up tests, participants selected semantics tests, especially single-word vocabulary tests, significantly more often than tests of pragmatics, processing skills, and morphology/syntax. Participants identified multiple factors as affecting test selection, including availability, familiarity, psychometric features, and others. Although more SLPs reported using data-based than subjective sources of information to judge the psychometric quality of tests, a substantial proportion reported that they relied on subjective sources.
Conclusions: Clinicians have a strong preference for using omnibus language tests. Follow-up test selection does not appear to align with the language difficulties most associated with developmental language disorder. The substantial use of subjective information about psychometric qualities of tests suggests that many SLPs may not attend to the technical meanings of terms such as validity, reliability, and diagnostic accuracy. These results indicate a need for improvement in evidence-based language assessment practices.

Supplemental Material S1. Invitation to participate.

Supplemental Material S2. Questions presented to participants completing the elementary grades portion of the survey.

Ogiela, D. A., & Montzka, J. L. (2020). Norm-referenced language test selection practices for elementary school children with suspected developmental language disorder. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1044/2020_LSHSS-19-00067