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Multilingual preschoolers and the ICF-CY (Karem et al., 2019)

journal contribution
posted on 2019-07-09, 19:59 authored by Rachel Wright Karem, Karla N. Washington, Kathryn Crowe, Alyssa Jenkins, Michelle Leon, Leslie Kokotek, Lesley Raisor-Becker, Carol Westby
Purpose: The purpose of this scoping review was to identify current measures used to evaluate the language abilities of multilingual preschoolers within the framework of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health–Children and Youth Version (ICF-CY; World Health Organization, 2007).
Method: This review adhered to established models for conducting a comprehensive, iterative scoping review outlined by Arksey and O’Malley (2005) and Leva, Colquhoun, and O’Brien (2010) and included the following phases: (a) articulating the research question; (b) identifying relevant studies; (c) selecting studies; (d) charting the data; and (e) collating, summarizing, and reporting the results. The ICF-CY was used to frame the identified measures (World Health Organization, 2007).
Results: Three hundred twenty-five peer-reviewed publications were identified and included in this review. The majority of publications used measures that evaluated the activity component of multilingual preschoolers’ language (70%), with few evaluating participation (9%). Most identified measures (73%) assessed children’s semantic language skills. We also observed that 88% of studies explicitly measured children’s language input to interpret assessment results.
Conclusions: A variety of measures are currently used that address the activity component of the ICF-CY with a particular emphasis on semantics. There is, however, a dearth of measures examining language abilities for participation. The authors strongly recommend an increased focus on the development, use, and evaluation of measures that explicitly assess multilingual preschoolers’ language participation, particularly in school-based settings.

Supplemental Material S1. Additional detailed information regarding the search strategies used.

Supplemental Material S2. Complete reference list of all articles that were included in the scoping review.

Karem, R. W., Washington, K. N., Crowe, K., Jenkins, A., Leon, M., Kokotek, L., Raisor-Becker, L., & Westby, C. (2019). Current methods of evaluating the language abilities of multilingual preschoolers: A scoping review using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health–Children and Youth Version. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 50, 434–451.


The first, fifth, and sixth authors are recipients of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs Preparation of Special Education and Early Intervention grant that funds their doctoral studies. The second and seventh authors are lead faculty members on this grant.