Screening Approaches for Determining the Language of Assessment for Dual Language Learners: Evidence from Head Start and a Universal Preschool Initiative

Publisher: Early Childhood Research Quarterly, vol. 51 (online ahead of print)
Sep 09, 2019
Nikki Aikens, Jerry West, Kelsey McKee, Emily Moiduddin, Sally Atkins-Burnett, and Yange Xue

Key Findings:

  • Large-scale research studies face challenges assessing DLLs.
  • We examine performance of the preLAS and preferred language on EOWPVT-SBE for language routing.
  • The preLAS differentiates scores on other measures but is not a Guttman scale.
  • Preferred language on EOWPVT-SBE differentiates scores on other measures and could be used for routing.

This study conducted analyses that examined the performance of the Preschool Language Assessment Scale (preLAS) and the Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test (EOWPVT-3: SBE), a conceptually scored vocabulary measure, for determining dual language learner (DLL) children’s language path through a direct assessment battery. We draw on data from two studies of programs serving linguistically-diverse children, the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) and the Universal Preschool Child Outcomes Study (UPCOS), both of which used the preLAS for routing. Several key findings should inform future language routing procedures. Findings suggested that, beyond use for language screening purposes, the preLAS could be used to help differentiate DLL children’s scores on other measures of development. In addition, the items are not ordered in terms of difficulty, which has implications for how preLAS scores should be used. We also find that language of response on the EOWPVT-3: SBE signals Spanish-English DLLs’ readiness to respond to language-specific assessments in English. This research suggests that, when using the preLAS to route children appropriately, assessment procedures should consider using total rather than consecutive errors. It also suggests that other assessment measures, such as the EOWPVT-3: SBE, can be considered for use in language routing specifically with Spanish-English DLLs.

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Nikki Aikens
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Yange Xue
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Sally Atkins-Burnett
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