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Standardized Tests for Pragmatics

February 10, 2003

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Question

Besides the authentic assesssment, what are other ways(standardized or not) to do a pragmatic assessment when doing a complete language evaluation for elementary age students?

Answer

I certainly understand the need to try to find a time-effective way to assess children with pragmatic difficulty -- and also the value of a test score for placement. However, I really have a hard time talking about tests with these children because the very nature of pragmatic skills/problems is so intimately tired to context (place, participates, activity, topic, etc.). It seems to me that the problem is that a test gives only a very small specific sample of the child's behavior in only one context (individual testing), which then leads right back to working only on specific skills. Isn't that the problem that generated the first question -- that addressing specific identified pragmatic goals in therapy did not lead to effective interaction by the child?. SO!! I am going to have to hold on to my plea for authentic assessment.

Having said this, lists of tests can be found in the references that I provided. Below is one of the references that includes a list of tests -- and also two tests that can be found in the list.

Bernstein, D. K., Tiegerman-Farber, E., (2002). Language and communication disorders in children. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Wiig & Secord (1989), Test of Language Competence -- Expanded Edition, Psychological Corporation.

Phelps-Terasaki & Phelps-Gunn (1992), Test of Pragmatic language (TOPL), Pro-Ed

Biographical Sketch:

Dr. Nancy Creaghead is Past President of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She is Professor and Head of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Cincinnati. Her teaching and research are in the area of child language development and disorders. She has been responsible for the development of outreach and distance learning programs for individuals working as speech therapists in the schools who need to obtain a master's degree. She has presented at numerous workshops and meetings at the local, state, national and international levels, including the 1978 through 2003 ASHA conventions, and is widely published. Dr. Creaghead is co-owner of a private practice, which provides speech-language services to children, primarily in Head Start and other preschool settings. She is a past president of the Ohio Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She has completed a three-year term as ASHA Vice President for Professional Practices in Speech-Language Pathology. She holds an M.S. from Purdue University and Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati. She is an ASHA Fellow and has received Honors of the Ohio Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders.

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