Have you been avoiding dynamic assessment because it is too complicated and time consuming? A new study by Petersen et al. (2016) outlines an efficient, accurate, and standardized way to identify language impairment in school-aged children using a narrative dynamic assessment.
What is dynamic assessment?
Dynamic assessment is a method used to measure a student’s learning potential rather than their current knowledge. A test-teach-retest approach is often used. The child is given an initial test to determine their current individual performance. They are then given a brief period of instruction to determine their learning potential (modifiability). Lastly, they are retested using an alternate form of the pre-test. Overall modifiability is based on the student’s change in score from pretest to posttest, what learning behaviors the student exhibited, and how much effort from the examiner was needed to teach the child. This focus on modifiability makes dynamic assessment especially useful with culturally and linguistically diverse populations, where differences in prior knowledge have historically confounded the accurate identification of language impairment.
Why use dynamic assessment of oral narratives?
- Higher classification accuracy than most traditional standardized, norm-referenced assessments
- Measures a child’s ability to learn rather than prior knowledge
- Overcomes test biases against culturally and linguistically diverse populations
- Takes less than 30 minutes to administer
- Assesses multiple skills including story grammar, vocabulary, cohesion, and grammar in a functional context
- Provides direction for intervention
The recent study by Petersen et. al (2016) investigated the classification accuracy of a dynamic assessment in identifying culturally and linguistically diverse children with and without language disorders. 42 Spanish-English-speaking bilingual children were given two 25-minute test-teach-retest narrative dynamic assessments. Missing story grammar elements and subordinating conjunctions (e.g., because, after) were taught during the teaching phase. Results showed that modifiability ratings (remember—that's learning potential) were able to identify children with and without language disorders with almost perfect accuracy after only 25 minutes.
The DYMOND (Dynamic Measure of Oral Narrative Discourse), a standardized dynamic assessment of oral narratives for school-age children that is based on this most recent study is currently being piloted. You can download the DYMOND for free here. By participating in this pilot initiative, you can help gather national norms for this assessment and have a free tool that will help accurately identify children with language impairment.
This review is written by Guest Authors: Whitney A. Mount, Ashlynn J. Stevens, Mikal A. Forseth, & Douglas B. Petersen. Thank you all for taking the time to share your research with us!
Petersen, D.B., Chanthongthip, H., Ukrainetz, T.A., Spencer, T.D., & and Steeve, R.W. (2017). Dynamic Assessment of Narratives: Efficient, Accurate Identification of Language Impairment in Bilingual Students. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 60, 983–998.