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Basic Concept Assessment

What originally motivated your work in basic concept assessment?

I began to think about basic concepts many years ago when I was a teacher of young children and working on my doctorate at Teachers College, Columbia University. I became interested in why some children had difficulty following directions such as “Mark all of the words in the top row that begin with the letter g.” As I reviewed curricular materials in reading and mathematics, the relational words stood out.

The use of many of these words was not directly taught at that time. So, for many children there was a hidden curriculum that was needed for success in school. The development of children’s understanding of what I refer to as “basic concepts” became the basis of my doctoral dissertation, the Boehm Test of Basic Concepts, and continues to be an area of importance in my life’s work.

The current version, the Boehm Test of Basic Concepts-3 (BTBC-3), continues to be a planning and problem-solving tool for teachers, speech-language pathologists, and other professionals. It samples a student’s understanding of a large number of essential basic relational concepts—such as before and after—that are important to reading, mathematics and science, following directions, solving problems, and taking other tests. The goal of the BTBC-3 is to identify basic concepts of space, quantity and time that children are familiar with or may be emerging in order to guide instruction at school and at home.

I will be presenting two upcoming webinars that focus on basic concepts and hope that you will attend:

April 2, 2013: Basic Concept Assessment/Intervention: Building Blocks to School Success
Explores basic concept assessment-intervention planning using a multiple-step model. Presents evidence based intervention concerns along with checklists to monitor students’ use of concepts across different contexts and as tools of thinking.

April 23, 2013: The Critical Role of Following Directions in the Classroom and at Home
Explores the role of basic concepts in directions that children hear at home and at school along with strategies to improve children’s ability to follow different kinds of directions

The Bridge of Vocabulary’s link to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)


How does The Bridge of Vocabulary link to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)?

The CCSS adds two previously overlooked elements in literacy performance—speaking and listening. So, our work in directly linking oral to written language is much clearer through the new standards. To that end, The Bridge of Vocabulary provides over a hundred highly effective speaking and listening instructional strategies for students PreK–12th grade. All of these activities can be linked to the CCSS!

Administering Expository Reading for the OLAI-2

When administering Expository Reading for the OLAI-2, should the examinee have the text in front of him/her for the intra- and extra- personal questions?
The examiner should have the pictures still in front of the student from the beginning of the task. Given the way the record form is laid out, the student reads the passage silently and then the examiner takes the record form to record the answers to the questions (on the back side of the passage in the form itself). Have the examiner start with that method—not showing the text, just the pictures, to the student. If the student struggles, it should be noted on the record form and then the examiner would be free to show the text as well to see if that helps. Keeping in mind that the task is not testing memory, the pictures are typically a good support to the student after the text is read. In addition, only a few of the questions are related to specific text in the story, so using the text or not still requires the student to use personal, world knowledge and his or her own thinking skills.

PLS-5 Additional Norms?

I’ve been using the PLS-5 Norms in 1-Month increments on the website. They work really well when I’m testing a child who is 2-10 or 2-11, but the scores are still high for children who are 2-6 (in fact, the scores are even higher than the scores in the PLS-5 manual. Why is that?
The scores in the PLS-5 manual show the average score for a child in the 2:6 to 2:11 age range. When a 6-month age normative interval is used, a child who is 2:10 or 2:11 is being compared to a sample of children who are mostly younger than he or she is. The resulting score may be higher than expected. A child who is 2:6 is being compared to children who are mostly older than he or she is, so the six-month norm score may be lower than expected. The PLS-5 norms in 1-month increments can be used to compare a child to peers in the same 1-month age group. When using norms in 1-month increments, a younger child (e.g., one who is 2:6) is no longer being compared to a sample of children who are mostly older than he or she is, so the score will be higher than the 6 month norm reported in the PLS-5 manual. When using norms in 1-month increments, an older child (e.g., one who is 2:11 is no longer being compared to a sample of children who are mostly younger than he or she is, so the score will be lower than the 6 month norm reported in the manual. Children who are in the middle of the age range (e.g, age 2:9) will have scores very similar to the 6 month norms reported in the manual.

CLQT Administration

Nancy Helm-Estabrooks, ScD, CCC-SLP, BC-ANCDS – author of CLQT

On Symbol Trails, the examinee did Trials 1 & 2 correctly, but did not follow the instructions on the actual scored task. The examinee kept repeating “circle to triangle,” but she drew the lines in a scattered fashion, not paying attention to connecting circles to triangles or connecting objects of increasing size. According to the scoring criteria, the examinee completed 7 lines correct. Is the score actually 7? Should she consider the subtest to be spoiled?

If the examiner follows the guidelines for instructions to the examinee, credit should be given for the lines connected correctly. The score is indeed a 7 and scoring procedures should be followed and reported. At the same time, the clinician needs to make a judgment whether or not that score appears to be reflective of intentional performance or not and qualify those concerns in the report. Certainly, the verbal repetition “circle to triangle” could be an indicator of lack of attention and “random drawing” (which ended up being rather accurate in this case), or it could simply be verbal rehearsal and a perseverating self-monitoring strategy during the task. Only the clinician giving the test can make the best judgment about that. The scoring, however, is based on actual performance given correct administration procedures.

Interpreting the Results of CELF®-4

I am attempting to interpret results of the CELF®-4 administered to an eight year, eleven month old female. Her core language score is 93, receptive is 121, and expressive is 96. I used the charts in the manual to determine that she does exhibit a significant difference between the two—a difference of 25 points which only occurred in .6% of the standardization population. I am having trouble explaining what impact this may have on her education. Any resources would be appreciated!

Examining the difference between scores is relevant when a student’s scores are low in receptive and/or expressive language skills—you can use this information to report language strengths and weaknesses, consulting with the student’s teacher, and planning intervention. In this case, the student is scoring in the typical range of development—there is no reason to explain relative strengths and weaknesses from a clinical standpoint. Other than pointing out that the student’s receptive language skills appear to be exceptional, there is no educational impact related to the difference between the scores.

Digital Stimulus Books

We’ve been receiving some questions about our new Digital Stimulus Books. Here are couple of the most commonly asked ones.

I see the books work for Windows is there a Mac version?

This first version is indeed only Windows compatible. We’re waiting for a final Mac version to review as we speak (should be about a month yet), and we’ve got the iPad version on our radar for what comes next.

Will it be possible to put this into Dropbox and then open it on an iPad?

To use the digital stimulus book, the flash drive must be inserted in your computer’s USB port. So no, moving it to Dropbox and using on the iPad won’t work on two fronts right now.

English Test Items and PLS-5 Spanish


Why can’t I use the English test items that are on the PLS-5 Spanish with my English speaking students since PLS-5 Spanish is a “dual-language” test?

PLS-5 Spanish items are ordered based on data collected from Spanish speaking children living in the United States and Puerto Rico. The item set, item order, and normative scores reflect the performance of children whose first language is Spanish, not English. Using the translated English items on PLS-5 Spanish to assess children who are monolingual English speakers are likely to result in inaccurate scores because children are being compared to an incorrect reference group

Wait Times Between Test Administrations


How much time should I wait between test administrations?


The answer is that our tests (actually no tests) conduct studies to determine "optimal time between test sessions" because there are so many examinee variables in play.

Our recommendation is that you wait to retest a child until one or more of the following conditions are met.

You may retest a child if:

  1. Enough time has elapsed that the child is now in the next norm group (exception: the child was tested the first time shortly before he "aged out" from the previous norm group)
  2. Enough time has elapsed that the child no longer remembers his or her responses during the first test session, and/or
  3. Enough time has elapsed that there is evidence that the child has made progress (otherwise, why put the child through another test session.)

The “Impact Factor”


What does a journal’s “impact factor” mean?


Essentially, the impact factor is a calculation of how frequently the articles in the journal are cited elsewhere—that is, the level of impact that the research in a journal has beyond itself. The higher the impact number, the better the journal is perceived.

The impact factor is a creation of Thomson Reuters. A helpful essay by the founder of Thomson Reuters (then named The Institute for Scientific Information®) can be scanned quickly here (use link below).


Here’s a recent SLP example, shared by Dr. Yaruss: Pascal van Lieshout, Editor in Chief for the Journal of Fluency Disorders (JFD) reported at the International Fluency Association (IFA) conference in France earlier this month that the impact factor for JFD is 4.8 – a record high and much higher than other journals in the field. Several of the most cited papers involve issues related to the speaker’s experience of stuttering (including factors such as anxiety and quality of life, which are evaluated through the OASES).