Oral Language Assessment in the Preschool and Primary Grades: Definitions, Measures, and Theoretical Lens
Keywords:oral language, emergent literacy, assessment preschool, oral language assessment
The overarching goal of this literature review is to improve the understanding of the importance of oral language to critical emergent literacy skills and provide an overview of available assessment measures for use within the classroom. An overview of the components of language (i.e., content, form, and use) is provided. Measures of oral language gleaned from a comprehensive literature review of the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) database are discussed, organized according to the components of language they are assessing. An examination of the theoretical foundations of language acquisition and development provides an orienting framework for educators.
Ball, J., & Bernhardt, B. (2008). First Nations English dialects in Canada: Implications for speech language pathology. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 22(8), 570–588. https://doi.org/10.1080/02699200802221620
Beck, I., & McKeown, M.G. (2007). Increasing young low income children’s oral vocabulary repertoires through rich and focused instruction. Elementary School Journal, 107(3), 251–271. https://doi.org/10.1086/511706
Bloom, L., & Lahey, M. (1978). Language development and language disorders. John Wiley & Sons.
Bloom, L., & Tinker, E. (2001). The intentionality model and language acquisition: Engagement, effort, and the essential tension. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 66(4), 1–29.
*Bradfield, T. A., Besner, A. C., Wackerle–Hollman, A. K., Albano, A. D., Rodriguez, M. C., & McConnell, S. R. (2014). Redefining individual growth and development indicators: Oral language. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 39(4), 233–244. https://doi.org/10.1177/1534508413496837
*Bridges, M. S., & Catts, H. W. (2011). The use of a dynamic screening of phonological awareness to predict risk for reading disabilities in kindergarten children. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 44(4), 330–338. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022219411407863
Bromley, K. (2007). Best practices in teaching writing. In L. B. Bambrell, L. M. Morrow & M. Pressley (Eds.), Best practices in literacy instruction (pp. 243-263). Guildford Press.
*Camilleri, B., & Botting, N. (2013). Beyond static assessment of children’s receptive vocabulary: The dynamic assessment of word learning (DAWL). International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 48(5), 565–581. https://doi.org/10.1111/1460-6984.12033
*Chafouleas, S. M., & Martens, B. K. (2002). Accuracy–based phonological awareness tasks: Are they reliable, efficient, and sensitive to growth? School Psychology Quarterly, 17(2), 128–147. https://doi.org/10.1521/scpq.188.8.131.5259
Cooper, P. M. (2005). Literacy learning and pedagogical purpose in Vivian Paley’s storytelling curriculum. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 5(3), 229–251. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468798405058686
Cregan, A. (1998). Developing language and literacy: The role of the teacher. In G. Shiel and U. Ni Dhalaigh (Eds.), Developing language and literacy: The role of the teacher (pp. 3–15). Reading Association of Ireland.
Cutler, L., & Graham, S. (2008). Primary grade writing instruction: A national survey. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100(4), 907-919. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0012656
Curenton, S. M., & Lucas, T. D. (2007). Assessing young children's oral narrative skills: The story pyramid framework. In K. L. Pence (Ed.), Assessment in Emergent Literacy (pp. 377–419). Plural Publishing.
Dixson, D. D., & Worrell, F. C. (2016). Formative and summative assessment in the classroom. Theory Into Practice, 55, 153–159. https://doi.org/10.1080/00405841.2016.1148989
Dunn, L. M., & Dunn, D. M. (2007). Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (4th ed.). Pearson.
Gerber, S. (2003). A developmental perspective on language assessment and intervention for children on the autistic spectrum. Topics in Language Disorders, 23(2), 74–94.
Government of Saskatchewan. (2016). Saskatchewan’s early years plan 2016-2020. https://www.saskatchewan.ca/residents/family-and-social-support/child-care/saskatchewans-early-years-plan.
Gresham, F. M. (2007). Evolution of the response–to–intervention concept: Empirical foundations and recent developments. In S. R. Jimerson, M. K. Burns, & A. M. VanDerHeyden (Eds.), Handbook of response to intervention: The science and practice of assessment and intervention (pp. 10–24). Springer.
*Heilmann, J., Miller, J. F., & Nockerts, A. (2010). Sensitivity of narrative organization measures using narrative retells produced by young school–age children. Language Testing, 27(4), 603–626. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265532209355669
Heppner, D. (2014). It’s kind of slippery, it’s hard to assess: Current practices in oral language and writing assessment. https: / / researchwebsite.files.wordpress.com / 2015 / 01 / it_s–kind–of–slippery–it_s–hard–to–assess–current–practices–in–oral–language–and–writing–assessment1.pdf
Hill, S. (2011). Towards ecologically valid assessment in early literacy. Early Child Development and Care, 181(2), 165–180. https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2011.536638
*Justice, L. M., Bowles, R., Pence, K., & Gossee, C. (2010). A scalable tool for assessing children’s language abilities within a narrative context: The NAP (Narrative Assessment Protocol). Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 25, 218–234. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecresq.2009.11.002
*Kaminski, R. A., Abbott, M., Aguayo, K. B., Latimer, R., & Good, R. H. (2014). The Preschool Early Literacy Indicators: Validity and benchmark goals. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 34(2), 71–82. https://doi.org/10.1177/0271121414527003
*Kantor, P. T., Wagner, R. K., Torgesen, J. K., & Rashotte, C. A. (2011). Comparing two forms of dynamic assessment and traditional assessment of preschool phonological awareness. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 44(4), 313–321. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022219411407861
Kennedy, E., Dunphy, E., Dwyer, B., Hayes, G., McPhillips, T., Marsh, J., O’Connor, M., & Shiel, G. (2012). Literacy in early childhood and primary education (3–8 years). National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. https://ncca.ie/media/2137/literacy_in_early_childhood_and_primary_education_3-8_years.pdf
Konza, D. (2010). Understanding the reading process: Research into practice. Government of South Australia, Department of Education and Children’s Services. https://www.ecu.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/663696/SA-DECS_-Understanding-the-Reading-Process.pdf
Konza, D. (2011). Research into practice: Understanding the reading process. Government of South Australia, Department of Education and Children’s Services. https://www.ecu.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/663696/SA-DECS_-Understanding-the-Reading-Process.pdf
Lahey, M. (1988). Language disorders and language development. Macmillan.
Lonigan, C. J., Allan, N. P., & Lerner, M. D. (2011). Assessment of preschool early literacy skills: Linking children’s educational needs with empirically supported instructional activities. Psychology in the Schools, 48(5), 488–501. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.20569
Manzo, A. V., Manzo, U. C., & Thomas, M. M. (2006). Rationale for systematic vocabulary development: Antidote for state mandates. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 49(7), 610–619. https://doi.org/10.1598/JAAL.49.7.6
*Marcotte, A. M., Parker, C., Furey, W., & Hands, J. L. (2014). An examination of the validity of the Dynamic Indicators of Vocabulary Skills (DIVS). Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 32(2), 133–145. https://doi.org/10.1177/0734282913498849
Mardell, B. (2013). Boston listens: Vivian Paley’s storytelling / story Acting in an urban school district. New England Reading Association Journal, 49(1), 58–67.
Mather, N., Bos, C., & Babur, N. (2001). Perceptions and knowledge of preservice and inservice teachers about early literacy instruction. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 34, 472–482. https://doi.org/10.1177/002221940103400508
McIntyre, L. J., & Hellsten, L. M. (2004). The influence of teacher characteristics on teachers’ knowledge of language form, content, and use. Developmental Disabilities Bulletin, 32(2), 140–154.
McIntyre, L. J., & Hellsten, L. M. (2008). Differences in teachers’ knowledge of language. Exceptionality Education in Canada, 18(2), 24–37. https://doi.org/10.5206/eei.v18i2.7622
Moats, L. C. (1994). The missing foundation in teacher education: Knowledge of the structure of spoken and written language. Annals of Dyslexia, 44, 88–102. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02648156
Moats, L. C. (2020). Speech to print: Language essentials for teachers. Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.
Myhill, D., & Jones, S. (2009). How talk becomes text: Investigating the concept of oral rehearsal in early years’ classrooms. British Journal of Educational Studies, 57(3), 265–284.
Noonan, B., Yackulic, R. A., & Hildebrand, D. (1998). The effects of early oral language skills and other measures on subsequent school achievement: A longitudinal study. Saskatchewan School Trustees Association.
Owens, R.E. (1992). Language development: An introduction (3rd ed.). Macmillan.
*Pena, E. D., Gillam, R. B., Malek, M., Ruiz–Felter, R., Resendiz, M., Fiestas, C., & Sabel, T. (2006). Dynamic assessment of school–age children’s narrative ability: An experimental investigation of classification accuracy. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 49, 1037–1057. https://doi.org/10.1044/1092-4388(2006/074)
Piasta, S. B., & Wagner, R. K. (2010). Developing early literacy skills: A meta–analysis of alphabet learning and instruction. Reading Research Quarterly, 45(1), 8–38. https://doi.org/10.1598/RRQ.45.1.2
Pressley, M., Wharton–McDonald, R., Allington, R., Block, C. C., Morrow, L., Tracey, D., Baker, K., Brooks, G., Cronin, J., Nelson, E., and Woo, D. (2001). A study of effective first–grade literacy instruction. Scientific Studies of Reading, 5(1), 35–58. https://doi.org/10.1207/S1532799XSSR0501_2
Reutzel, D. R. (2015). Early literacy research: Findings primary–grade teachers will want to know. The Reading Teacher, 69(1), 14–24. https://doi.org/10.1002/trtr.1387
Richgels, D. J. (2004). Paying attention to language. Reading Research Quarterly, 39(4), 470–477. https://doi.org/10.1598/RRQ.39.4.6
*Riley, J., & Burrell, A. (2007). Assessing children’s oral storytelling in their first year of school. International Journal of Early Years Education, 15(2), 181–196. http://doi.org/10.1080/09669760701289136
Shiel, G., Cregan, A., McGough, A., & Archer, P. (2012). Oral language in early childhood and primary education (3–8 years). National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. https://www.erc.ie/documents/oral_language_in_early_childhood_and_primary_education_3-8_years_.pdf
*Smith, A. R., McCauley, R., & Guitar, B. (2000). Development of the teacher assessment of student communicative competence (TASCC) for grades 1 through 5. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 22(1), 3–11. https://doi.org/10.1177/152574010002200102
Stanovich, P. J., & Stanovich, K. E. (2003). Using research and reason in education: How teachers can use scientifically based research to make curricular and instructional decisions. US Department of Education. https://la.thereadingleague.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/15/2018/10/Using-Research-Reason-Stanovich.pdf
Tracey, D. H., & Morrow, L. M. (2012). Lenses on reading: An introduction to theories and models (2nd ed.). The Guilford Press.
Uccelli, P., Demir–Lira, O. E., Rowe, M. L., Levine, S., & Goldin–Meadow, S. (2018). Children’s early decontextualized talk predicts academic language proficiency in mid–adolescence. Child Development, 90(5), 1650–1663. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13034
*Vloedgraven, J. M. T., & Verhoeven, L. (2007). Screening of phonological awareness in the early elementary grades: An IRT approach. Ann. of Dyslexia, 57, 33–50. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11881-007-0001-2
Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press.
*Watkins, M. W., & Edwards, V. A. (2004). Assessing early literacy skills with the Mountain Shadows Phonemic Awareness Scale (MS–PAS). Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 22, 3–14. https://doi.org/10.1177/073428290402200101
*Webb, M. L., Schwanenflugel, P. J., & Kim, S. (2004). A construct validation study of phonological awareness for children entering prekindergarten. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 22, 304–319. https://doi.org/10.1177/073428290402200402
Wells, A. (2003). Summary report of survey into young children’s skills on entry to education (2002). The Basic Skills Agency.
Zimmerman, I. L., Steiner, V. G., & Pond, R. E. (2002). Preschool Language Scale manual (4th ed.). Merrill.
- 2021-09-02 (2)
- 2021-07-11 (1)
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2021 McGill Journal of Education / Revue des sciences de l'éducation de McGill
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Those wishing to reproduce all or part of any material published on this website are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org for permission and to acknowledge the McGill Journal of Education as the original source.
Authors must transfer copyright of their article to MJE. Authors may use all or parts of their work in any future publication with the article's origin in MJE acknowledged in the customary manner.
A copy of our standard form may be requested from email@example.com