Download: (Peterson, Chanthongthip, Ukrainetz, Spencer & Steeve, 2017)

This study investigated dynamic assessment in evaluations among SLPs and explored whether different procedures would increase its use.

Source URL: Dynamic assessment of narratives: Efficient, accurate identification of language impairment in bilingual students 

Background: Despite the considerable lack of acceptable sensitivity and specificity in the assessment of culturally and linguistically diverse children, norm-referenced, standardized testing remains the main diagnostic tool for the vast majority of SLPs. In recent years, strong evidence supports the use of Dynamic Assessment (DA), yet it has not been adopted in clinical practice because it lacks standardization, requires lengthy training, lacks validated cut points, and includes subjective ratings. 

Hypothesis: Researchers asked if a shorter DA procedure could produce high sensitivity and specificity in diagnosing bilingual children with and without language impairment (LI). If so, they further investigated which of a variety of measures obtained during DA produced the results.  

Methodology and Participants: Participants included 42 Spanish-English bilingual children, aged from kindergarten to third-grade, of which 10 had LI and 32 had typical development (TD). Examiners administered two 25-minute DA test-teach-test sessions. Cut scores were established and performance was scored for use of story grammar, subordinate clauses, duration of testing session,  and modifiability (learning behaviors during the testing sessions). 

Conclusion: Results showed that sensitivity and specificity for bilingual children was much better than most commercially available standardized tests. They found that scores of modifiability, the length required to complete the testing sessions and mean post-test scores were the most accurate indicators in classifying bilingual children with and without LI. 

Relevance to the field: This study further contributed to growing research in using both DA and narratives to assess children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Since the sample size was small and only represents a small portion of the populations likely encountered in the clinical setting, it is important to use DA as part of several assessment measures to improve accuracy in identifying children with LI from different backgrounds. 


Petersen, D. B., Chanthongthip, H., Ukrainetz, T. A., Spencer, T. D., & 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(4), 983-998. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-15-0426