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Identifying Kindergarten Children at Risk for Developmental Language Disorder and Dyslexia Using a Whole-Classroom Screen.

Allie Beall, Sophia Tolbert, Angela Clausen, Maria Begger, Mary Fahlman, Samantha Hege, Melissa Phelan, Dr. Crystle Alonzo, and Dr. Julie Wolter, School of Speech, Language, Hearing, & Occupational Sciences, University of Montana, 32 Campus Dr. Missoula, MT 59812

Purpose: The aim of this study was to determine if two whole-classroom screeners of language and literacy skills administered to local kindergarten classrooms can reliably identify children at risk for developmental language disorder (DLD) and dyslexia.

Method: Two cohorts of kindergarten children in a single public-school district (n = 1127) completed two separate 25-minute, whole-classroom screens in the Fall of 2018 and 2019; one targeting grammatical skills (language) and the other targeting phonological and orthographic awareness skills (literacy). A subsample of these children completed an assessment battery of standardized and norm-referenced assessments of nonverbal intelligence, word reading, language, as well as hearing and articulation screenings.

Results: The language classroom screen showed acceptable classification accuracy for identifying children at risk for DLD overall (sensitivity = 88% and specificity = 52%). The literacy classroom screen showed acceptable classification accuracy for identifying children at risk for dyslexia overall (sensitivity = 81% and specificity = 63%).

Conclusion: Whole-classroom screens for language and literacy show potential for efficient identification of children who may benefit from comprehensive assessments for DLD and dyslexia without relying on their parents or teachers to raise concerns. Further, using a whole-classroom screener that can be administered to a large group of children simultaneously under 25 minutes versus current educational practice of a 10-15 minute, individually-administered assessment for each student in a classroom would reduce time and financial burdens on school systems which has important implications for recent U.S. legislation around early identification of dyslexia in all children.




Additional Abstract Information

Presenters: Allison Beall, Angela Clausen, Maria Begger, Mary Fahlman, Samantha Hege, Melissa Phelan, Sophia Tolbert

Institution: University of Montana Missoula

Type: Poster

Subject: Physical/Occupational Therapy & Speech Language Pathology

Status: Approved


Time and Location

Session: Poster 9
Date/Time: Wed 12:00pm-1:00pm
Session Number: 6104