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A survey of measures and screening techniques used with school beginners in British Columbia, with an analysis of their oral language components Souster, Keith Harland

Abstract

A growing body of research indicates that competence in oral language is a critical factor in reading and language success. This study sought, by examining screening procedures in use,to determine the extent to which oral language competence is assessed when children begin school in British Columbia. Following the identification of the measures employed, the study attempted further to determine what oral language factors were assessed by these measures and what proportion of beginners were assessed, generally and specifically, in oral language proficiency. A questionnaire was devised for circulation to the seventy-seven school districts of the province. To avoid bias in favour of oral language, the questionnaire asked districts to identify the total range of measures and techniques employed to screen possible physical and learning disabilities. Replies were received from 82% of the districts, representative of 87% of the provincial enrolment of grade one pupils. Summaries were compiled of the proportions of beginners screened for possible physical and learning disabilities. The means by which the assessments were conducted were also reported. The most commonly used tests of mental ability, readiness and other abilities were analyzed in terms of the principal abilities which each measure. The survey showed that on the basis of tests of mental ability, receptive oral language ratings may be derived for approximately 7% of the reported population. A further 1% were assessed in terms of expressive oral language.

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