Knowing what to monitor in child narrative skills

This study examined the reliability and validity of a progress monitoring tool for narratives called Monitoring Indicators of Scholarly Language (MISL). They looked at both narrative macrostructure and microstructure skills in 109 five- to nine-year-olds. Examples of macrostructure include character, setting, initiating events; microstructure includes syntactic things like clause types, verb modification. The MISL was designed to monitor development of narratives across the elementary years—from the very simple to more complex multi-episode narratives, usually with picture prompts, though storytelling can also be measured.
They found good inter-rater reliability, consistency reliability, and construct validity. Interestingly, narrative proficiency was best measured when the microstructure elements of grammar and tense were removed. This certainly doesn’t mean that clinicians shouldn’t work on grammar and tense, but that these skills may not be ideal for progress-monitoring narratives.
This paper is written not only for fellow scholars, but speaks directly to clinicians as well, which is wonderful. They provide a list of the third grade Common Core State Standards that are measured, the actual MISL rubric in full (yay!), and ideas on how to efficiently perform the test.

See: Gillam, S.L., Gillam, R.B., Fargo, J.D., Olszewski, A., Segura, H.S. (2016). Monitoring Indicators of Scholarly Language: A Progress-Monitoring Instrument for Measuring Narrative Discourse Skills. Communication Disorders Quarterly. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/1525740116651442