Assessing for Developmental Language Disorder in the Context of African American English



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Pearson Clinical Assessments


Structured Abstract. Clinical Question: For young AAE speakers (P), how useful is the Developmental Sentence Scoring (DSS) compared with Index of Productive Syntax (IPSyn) in identifying developmental language disorder (DLD) in the presence of African American English (AAE) ? Method: Structured Review. Study Sources: PsycInfo®, Education Source, Education Resources Information Center (ERIC), Communication & Mass Media Complete (CMMC), PubMed, Scopus, ASHAWire . Search Terms: (1) African American English (including African American Language AND African American Vernacular English AND Black English AND AAE AND AAVE), (2) child, AND (3) language assessment (including language testing AND speech evaluation). Number of Included Studies: 3. Primary Results: DSS and IPSyn appear to be dialect-neutral measures of morphosyntax in young AAE speakers DSS was better able to detect morphosyntactic differences between children with typical language development (TLD) and children with DLD. DSS and its variant, Black English Sentence Scoring (BESS), appear to be clinically useful language sampling analysis tools. Conclusions: Available evidence suggests that DSS is a more useful clinical tool over IPSyn for evaluating DLD within the context of AAE because it provides the opportunity to evaluate mastery and accuracy of grammatical features and not only the presence of structures.



School-age children, African American English, Developmental sentence scoring, Index of productive syntax, Development language disorder


Copyright 2023 authors. This item was deposited by the authors prior to publication. Recommended citation: Francois, Isabelle, Stefanie Lapka, Nan Berstein Ratner, and Monique T. Mills. "Assessing for developmental language disorder in the context of African American English." Pearson Clinical Assessments (2023). URL: