Language Assessment With Children Who Speak Nonmainstream Dialects: Examining the Effects of Scoring Modifications in Norm-Referenced Assessment Purpose We compared outcomes from 2 measures of language ability in children who displayed a range of dialect variation: 1 using features that do not contrast between mainstream American English (MAE) and nonmainstream dialects (NMAE), and 1 using contrastive features. We investigated how modified scoring procedures affected the diagnostic accuracy ... Research Article
Research Article  |   July 26, 2017
Language Assessment With Children Who Speak Nonmainstream Dialects: Examining the Effects of Scoring Modifications in Norm-Referenced Assessment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Alison Eisel Hendricks
    University of South Carolina, Columbia
  • Suzanne M. Adlof
    University of South Carolina, Columbia
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Alison Eisel Hendricks, who is now at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo: ahendric@buffalo.edu
  • Editor: Shelley Gray
    Editor: Shelley Gray×
  • Associate Editor: Monique Mills
    Associate Editor: Monique Mills×
Article Information
Development / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Research Articles
Research Article   |   July 26, 2017
Language Assessment With Children Who Speak Nonmainstream Dialects: Examining the Effects of Scoring Modifications in Norm-Referenced Assessment
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2017, Vol. 48, 168-182. doi:10.1044/2017_LSHSS-16-0060
History: Received July 27, 2016 , Revised December 23, 2016 , Accepted April 14, 2017
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2017, Vol. 48, 168-182. doi:10.1044/2017_LSHSS-16-0060
History: Received July 27, 2016; Revised December 23, 2016; Accepted April 14, 2017

Purpose We compared outcomes from 2 measures of language ability in children who displayed a range of dialect variation: 1 using features that do not contrast between mainstream American English (MAE) and nonmainstream dialects (NMAE), and 1 using contrastive features. We investigated how modified scoring procedures affected the diagnostic accuracy of the measure with contrastive features.

Method Second-grade students (N = 299; 167 White, 106 African American, 26 other) completed measures of language variation and ability (the Diagnostic Evaluation of Language Variation–Screening Test and the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals–Fourth Edition [CELF-4]). The CELF-4 was scored with and without the recommended scoring modifications for children who spoke African American English.

Results Partial correlations controlling for socioeconomic status revealed small to moderate correlations between measures of language ability and the use of NMAE features. Modified scoring yielded higher scores for children who spoke African American English and a reduced association between the use of NMAE features and CELF-4 scores. Modified scoring also affected the diagnostic accuracy of the CELF-4, resulting in a lower positive likelihood ratio and a higher negative likelihood ratio.

Conclusions The decision to apply scoring modifications affects both the false positive and false negative rates. Implications for language assessment for children who speak NMAE dialects are discussed, including the need for further investigation.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported in part by National Institutes of Health Grant R03DC013399, awarded to Suzanne Adlof. We are grateful to the participants, teachers, and schools who were involved in this study. We thank research assistants from the South Carolina Research on Language & Literacy Lab at the University of South Carolina for their help with data collection and processing, and Allison Brazendale and Joanna Scoggins for serving as project coordinators.
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