Academic Language Tests – Essay Sample

Academic Language Tests – Essay Sample

For years, the United States has utilized standardized testing as a way of measuring academic progress and success, as well as competence of school personnel and staff or lack thereof. Use of such testing has been controversial; objections have included such issues as cultural bias, actual cheating on the part of school personnel as well as students, and the concept that teachers are more concerned with “teaching to the test” than they are with progress of individual students. Nevertheless, a wide range of tests remain in use today, beginning when children enter school and lasting throughout entire academic careers and beyond. This paper will compare and contrast two tests commonly used in elementary and middle schools, The Test of Language Development-Primary and The Test for Auditory Comprehension of Language.

The first test, referred to as TOLD-P: 4 is given to children ages four through 8 to 11, and is a timed test that takes from 30 minutes to one hour (TOLD-P: 4: Test of Language Development Primary– Fourth Edition). It is designed to evaluate skill in spoken language. It is considered to be a well-designed, reliable, research-based, and theoretically solid measure of these skills. The test can identify children who lag behind their peers in skills of oral language, assess their specific strengths and weaknesses in these skills, identify progress in remedial programs, as well as evaluate oral language skills in research studies (TOLD-P: 4: Test of Language Development Primary– Fourth Edition)

There are nine subtests in TOLD-P: 4 which assess different areas of oral language, resulting in scores for the major areas of language: semantics and grammar, listening, organizing and speaking, as well as general language ability. The subtests are: picture vocabulary, which is designed to evaluate a child’s comprehension of the meaning of spoken English words; relational vocabulary, which assesses a child’s understanding and ability to verbally state the relationship between two spoken words; oral vocabulary, which evaluates the child’s capacity to provide oral instructions to common English words that are given by the examiner; syntactic understanding, a measure of the child’s capacity to understand the meaning of sentences; sentence imitation, which measures a child’s ability to imitate English sentences; morphological completion, an assessment of a child’s capacity to identify, understand, and utilize common English grammatical forms; word discrimination, which measures the child’s skill in recognizing the variations in significant speech sounds; word analysis, which evaluates a child’s capacity to divide words into smaller expressions of language; and word articulation, which evaluates the child’s capacity to express import and English speech sounds (TOLD-P: 4: Test of Language Development Primary– Fourth Edition)

The TOLD-P: 4 is administered by the teacher in the classroom, and completed by the students individually. The teacher is aided by an Examiner’s manual that contains specific and detailed instructions for administering the subtests, and which is revised on a regular basis so that it is user-friendly for the Examiners. The test is considered to be a solid instrument for language assessment.

The Test for Auditory Comprehension of Language has also been a significant assessment for language skills for more than 25 years. It is a measurement of receptive spoken vocabulary, grammar, and syntax (Test for Auditory Comprehension of Language, 2011) and is administered to children ages 3 to 9. The test takes only 10 to 20 minutes to administer, and is comprised of 142 items divided into three subtests that evaluate a child’s capacity to comprehend the following categories of English language areas: vocabulary; grammar such as prepositions, noun case, tenses, noun-verb agreement, and pronouns; elaborated phrases and sentences including interrogational sentences, negative sentences, active and passive voice, and direct and indirect object. The pictures presented to the children are drawn in color in order to be attractive to them, minimizing the pressure that some children feel in taking tests. Each item contains a word or sentence along with a picture plate containing three drawings. One of the pictures correctly demonstrates the meaning of the word or structure being evaluated. The other two pictures present either two opposites to the correct answer or one contrast and one decoy (Test for Auditory Comprehension of Language, 2011) .The teacher reads the example aloud, and the student is instructed to point to the picture that he or she thinks best illustrates the meaning of the word, phrase, or sentence verbalized by the teacher. The student is not required to make any verbal response. The items are presented according to difficulty level within each of the three subtexts.

These two tests have similarities and differences. They both are designed to accommodate essentially the same age group, which is preschool through latency age. While both tests concentrate on a child’s ability regarding language, the TOLD-P is aimed at evaluating the child’s ability regarding spoken language while the Test for Auditory Comprehension of Language evaluates receptive spoken vocabulary, or the child’s ability to understand receptive language skills. The latter test takes half the time that the TOLD-P does to complete; both are administered individually. The TOLD-P has been updated more recently, with normative data collected from a sample of the 2005 population; the T ACL-3 test has utilized factors estimated for the year 2000 (TOLD-P: 4: Test of Language Development Primary– Fourth Edition). In addition, both tests have utilized various validity studies in order to demonstrate that the test is appropriate for the general population as well as for a variety of smaller groups within it. The major difference between both tests is the purpose of each one: assessing spoken language versus receptive language ability.





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