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Authentic assessment of speech -language skills in bilingual students with communicative disorders in an urban school system

Carey E McGinn, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study used a case study methodology to describe the implementation of authentic assessment procedures by a bilingual speech-language pathologist in an urban school system over the course of one school year. The goal was to examine the evolution in assessment practices as a consequence of the researcher's involvement in the process of educational change. The specific purposes of the study were to: (1) identify how authentic assessment procedures could be used to determine the language of instruction in bilingual students with communicative disorders, (2) identify how authentic assessment techniques could be utilized to document progress in the attainment of speech-language therapy goals as outlined in students' Individual Educational Program (IEP), and (3) identify how authentic assessments could be used to supplement standardized assessment procedures for the differentiation of language differences from language disorders. The initial research strategy involved the collection of authentic assessment data from 65 students in preschool through grade six who received speech-language services or had been referred for an initial evaluation. With the exception of students who had been referred for initial evaluations, authentic assessment procedures were integrated into the delivery of speech and language services. Although the assessment protocol varied depending on the needs of the student, the authentic assessment procedures included: communicative/literacy portfolios, miscue analyses, running records, narrative samples, interviews, checklists, rating scales, rubrics, therapy logs, and acculturation scales. Field notes and reflections on the process of the data collection were completed several times weekly. Interviews were conducted with 10 parents, 15 teachers, and 13 students about their perspectives on the use of authentic assessment procedures. The purpose of these interviews was to adapt and/or modify the ways in which authentic assessment techniques were used with students with communicative disorders. The three research questions were answered through the inductive analysis of the data drawn from the field notes, reflections, and interviews. The data were analyzed using the constant comparison method. This study found that a multifaceted approach to communicative assessment that combined standardized measures and authentic assessment techniques facilitated in the differentiation of language disorders from language differences. This comprehensive approach to assessment complied with the mandates of the Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1997 (IDEA-97), decreased the likelihood of assessment bias, and identified specific learning strategies and classroom accommodations that enhanced students' ability to access the regular education curriculum. The implementation of a dual language, multidimensional and curriculum-based assessment model helped to determine the language of instruction in bilingual students with communication disorders. Authentic assessment techniques were found to be an ideal means for documenting students progress in attaining specific curriculum-based communication goals as required by IDEA-97. The inclusion of authentic curriculum-based assessments and interventions is no longer an option for speech-language pathologists, but i s a requirement of IDEA-97. These mandates have exerted a major impact on school-based speech-language pathologists who are seeking a balanced approach to their changing role as evaluators and interventionists. Speech-language pathologists will need to explore both collectively and individually, how they as clinicians can contribute to the success of communicatively challenged students in the general education curriculum.

Subject Area

Bilingual education|Multicultural education|Communication|Educational evaluation

Recommended Citation

McGinn, Carey E, "Authentic assessment of speech -language skills in bilingual students with communicative disorders in an urban school system" (2000). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9988823.