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Preschool Language Scale Fourth Edition. Sandra R. Gomes Caldwell College. Assessment Needs. The limitations of preschool assessments have been well documented (McCauley, 2001). Therefore, reliable and valid assessments are needed. Summary of Presentation.

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preschool language scale fourth edition

Preschool Language ScaleFourth Edition

Sandra R. Gomes

Caldwell College

assessment needs
Assessment Needs
  • The limitations of preschool assessments have been well documented (McCauley, 2001). Therefore, reliable and valid assessments are needed.
summary of presentation
Summary of Presentation
  • Background of Preschool Language Scale (PLS)
  • Overview of PLS-4
  • Test Content & Administration
  • How to score PLS-4
  • Research supporting the effectiveness of the PLS-4
  • Pros and Cons
background of preschool language scale pls
Background of Preschool Language Scale (PLS)
  • Developed by Irla Zimmerman, Violette Steiner, and Roberta Pond.
  • Earlier editions
      • PLS - Originally developed in 1969 to measure language development of young children
      • PLS-R - Clearer administration & simplified scoring system (1979)
      • PLS-3 - normative data used to develop standard scores & percentile ranks; reliability & validity information; additional test tasks & supplementary test information (1992)
  • Current edition
      • PLS-4 -(2002)
overview of pls 4
Overview of PLS-4
  • Purpose
      • Standardized & norm referenced evaluation tool used to assess receptive & expressive language skills
      • Determines whether deficiencies are primarily receptive or expressive in nature
      • Assesses behaviors considered to be language precursors
  • Age range
      • Birth through 6 years, 11 months
overview of pls 41
Overview of PLS-4
  • Test Content
      • Core Subscales
      • Supplemental Assessments
  • Scores
      • Norm referenced test scores
  • Qualified Users
overview of pls 42
Overview of PLS-4

Standardization Data

  • PLS-4 is standardized
  • Sample included 1564 children
      • 39.1% of this sample consists of ethnic minorities
  • Spanish edition also available with separate norms
  • Task Analysis Checklist
  • Ages 2 days to 6 years 11 months
      • Within each age level, approximately 50% of the sample was male and 50% was female.
test content auditory comprehension







Integrative language

Phonological awareness

Test ContentAuditory Comprehension

1.To evaluate how much language a child understands 2. Test tasks on this subscale are considered important precursors for language development for infants and toddlers

test content expressive communication
Vocal development


Social communication





Integrative language

Phonological awareness

Test ContentExpressive Communication

Used to determine how well a child communicates

with others.

caregiver questionnaire
Caregiver Questionnaire

“What Your Child Understands”

  • Does your child momentarily look at a person who is talking to him or her? If yes, who does your child look at?
  • Does your child look at you for more than 2 seconds? If yes, describe a situation when your child does this.
  • Does your child respond to words like “stop” or “wait?”
  • Does your child put toys in his or her mouth?
  • Does your child understand words like “in,” “off,” or “out of?”
administration of pls 4
Administration of PLS-4
  • Examiner’s Manual
      • Administration, scoring, & interpretation procedures
  • Picture Manual
      • Contains picture stimuli
  • Record Form
      • Abbreviated directions for administering, recording, & scoring test items
  • Manipulatives
      • Used to facilitate interactions with the child
administration of pls 41
Administration of PLS-4
  • Beginning the test session
      • Test environment
      • Determine chronological age
  • Determine starting point
      • Basic information about his or her language
      • Start at least a year prior to child’s age
  • Task Administration
      • Can start with either subscale
      • Generally takes 25-40 minutes, depending on age of the child and communication skills
  • Practice Tasks
      • Included for a number of items on the (AC) and (EC) subscales
administration of pls 42
Administration of PLS-4
  • Modifying Administration for special populations
      • Children with severe developmental delays
      • Children with severe physical/ hearing/ visual impairments
      • Children who communicate using sign language
      • Children with autism
  • Accommodations
      • Use as criterion referenced information only
scoring pls 4
Scoring PLS-4
  • Scores Reported
      • PLS-4 provides age-based
          • Standard scores
          • Percentile ranks
          • Age equivalents
  • Scoring Codes
      • (E)- Elicited (S) - Spontaneous (C ) - Caregiver
  • Basal and Ceiling Rules
      • Basal achieved when child has passed 3 consecutive numbered tasks (Scores of 1 marked in 3 consecutive boxes)
      • Ceiling is achieved when the child has earned a score of 0 on 7 consecutive numbered tasks
computing scores
Computing Scores
  • Refer to page 115
  • Refer to page 117 & 118
research supporting effectiveness
Research Supporting Effectiveness

Restrepo et al. (2001)

  • This study evaluated the validity of the Spanish edition of the PLS-3
  • Validity is of increasing importance
      • Number of Hispanic children increases in schools each year; therefore, the need for reliable, valid measures for this population becomes more urgent (Restrepo et al., 2001).
restrepo et al 2001 continued
Restrepo et al. (2001)Continued
  • Participants
      • 37 children (18 boys & 19 girls)
      • Mean age of 5 years 6 months
      • All children were bilingual
  • Compared performances of the same participants on the English and Spanish version of the PLS-3
  • Concluded that the test was inadequate because it was based on English rather than Spanish Language development data.
research supporting effectiveness1
Research Supporting Effectiveness

Qi et al. (2003)

  • Study examined the performance of 701 low-income African American preschoolers (36 to 52 months old)
  • On average, African American children performed about 1 SD below the expected means for their ages on both subscales
  • Independent sample t tests showed no significant differences between African American children & a comparison sample of 50 European American children.
  • 6 items appeared to be particularly difficult for African American sample
  • Findings suggest that the PLS-3 is generally an informative language test for African American preschoolers.
research supporting effectiveness2
Research Supporting Effectiveness

Zimmerman et al. (2005)

  • PLS-3 & PLS-4 administered to the same children, similar mean and SDs were found which supported the PLS-4 content.
  • PLS-4 differentiated between 44 children identified with autism spectrum disorders and 44 typically developing children.
  • Differences ranged from 36-39 standard score points.
zimmerman et al 2005 continued
Zimmerman et al. (2005) Continued
  • Nonverbal children with autism demonstrated greatest lags on language tasks targeting concepts & social communication.
  • Children who were verbal demonstrated significant difficulties on morphology, syntax, social communication & integrated language skills.
  • In summary, PLS-4 proved to be sensitive to differences in language abilities for children with a variety of diagnoses, including developmental and language delays, autism, & hearing impairment.
pros of assessment tool
Test covers a wide range of language issues

Child friendly

Allows for repeated administration over the child’s development

Used extensively by researchers in a broad variety of areas

Enables clinicians to gain insight into a child’s underlying deficits

Administration time is fairly brief

Reliable and valid

Useful tool for evaluating children with special needs

Easy to score

Pros of Assessment Tool
cons of assessment tool
Does not go into great depth

Not meant to be used alone to diagnose a language deficit

Unable to make modifications

Administration of assessment tool

Cons of Assessment Tool
  • Overall, PLS-4 is a well- designed and carefully developed instrument, meeting a standard of quality substantially above that of most other commercial tests. A user can be quite confident of the accuracy of scores and appropriateness of using PLS-4 scores as indicators of language skills of preschool children. (Zimmerman et. al, 2005)
  • It is a useful diagnostic and research tool that can be used to identify current comprehension and expressive language skills & can be used to measure changes in language skills over time.

McCauley, R. (2001). Assessment of language disorders in children. Mahwah, NJ: Laurence Erlbaum Associates.

Qi, C. H., Kaiser, A. P., Milan, S. E., Yzquierdo, Z., & Hancock, T. B., (2003). The performance of Low-Income, African American Children on the Preschool Language Scale-3. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 46, 576-590.

Restrepo, M., & Silverman, S. W., (2001). Validity of the Spanish preschool language scale-3 for use with bilingual children. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 10, 382-393.

Zimmerman, I. L., & Castilleja, N. F., (2005). The role of language scale for infant and preschool assessment. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, 11, 238-246.

Zimmerman, I. L., Steiner, V. G., & Pond R. E., (2002). Preschool Language Scale, 4th edition. San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.