American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Dynamic Assessment: Two Major Outcomes

  • Help distinguish between a language difference and a language disorder, especially for children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
    • Children who are able to make significant changes in short term teaching sessions likely have a language difference.
    • Children who are unable to make these changes likely have a language impairment.
  • Results can have direct implications for intervention by examining the child's response to a mediated learning experience.

Video Transcript

I think one important outcome of dynamic assessment is that we're able to distinguish between language disorder and language difference, and that's a huge issue, particularly with children from non-English backgrounds and for children who don't speak English as a primary language, because many standardized tests aren't going to give valid and reliable information about their abilities.

The other outcome of dynamic assessment-and this isn't something we're going to talk about as much today-is the emphasis on planning intervention. So looking at how the child responds to a mediated learning experience is going to help us make some real...realistic...develop some realistic expectations for what they're able to do in intervention and should help us to develop an intervention plan for a particular child.

So, in terms of looking at disorder versus difference, children who are able to make significant changes in the short-term mediated learning sessions are very likely to have language differences but not language disorders-maybe they weren't familiar with the test content, maybe they weren't sure how to perform on the test or what the expectations of the test were, but through some short-term intervention they're able to make some great strides in that-versus children who have a hard time making changes no matter what you do. So, children where you give them...you can give them the answer, and they still persist in giving you the wrong response, or you provide a lot of intense support, and they still have a very difficult time generalizing to a new task. Those are children who probably have a language impairment and not necessarily just a language difference.

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