Norm-Referenced Test Interpretation in the Diagnostic Process This study examines the extent to which norm-referenced tests can assist in addressing two independent clinical questions within the diagnostic process. "Is there a language impairment?" and "What are the specific areas of deficit?" Children’s performance on two tests, the Test for Examining Expressive Morphology and the Patterned Elicitation Syntax ... Research Article
Research Article  |   January 01, 1997
Norm-Referenced Test Interpretation in the Diagnostic Process
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Andrew W. Merrell
    The University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Elena Plante
    The University of Arizona, Tucson
    Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, Speech and Hearing Sciences Bldg. #71, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Research Articles
Research Article   |   January 01, 1997
Norm-Referenced Test Interpretation in the Diagnostic Process
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, January 1997, Vol. 28, 50-58. doi:10.1044/0161-1461.2801.50
History: Received May 4, 1995 , Accepted January 23, 1996
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, January 1997, Vol. 28, 50-58. doi:10.1044/0161-1461.2801.50
History: Received May 4, 1995; Accepted January 23, 1996

This study examines the extent to which norm-referenced tests can assist in addressing two independent clinical questions within the diagnostic process. "Is there a language impairment?" and "What are the specific areas of deficit?" Children’s performance on two tests, the Test for Examining Expressive Morphology and the Patterned Elicitation Syntax Test, was examined from the perspective of each question. For the first question, a discriminant analysis using 40 preschool children (20 with specific language impairment [SLI], and 20 with normally developing language) revealed 90% sensitivity and 95% specificity for each test. For the second question, an item analysis revealed inconsistent pass/fail rates and low point-to-point agreement for the performance of children with SLI on items targeting the same morphosyntactic structure across tests. Given their high discriminant capacity, but inconsistent item-level performance, the results demonstrate that norm-referenced tests can be appropriate diagnostic tools for one diagnostic purpose but inappropriate for addressing another.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The authors wish to thank Linda Swisher, Director of the Scottish Rite-University of Arizona Center for Childhood Language Disorders, for her invaluable contributions at every stage of this project. Work at the Center is supported by National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders grant K08DC00077, U.S. Department of Education grant H029D20070, and the Tucson Scottish Rite Charitable Foundation.
Order a Subscription
Pay Per View
Entire Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools content & archive
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access