Reducing Bias in Language Assessment Processing-Dependent Measures Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 1997
Reducing Bias in Language Assessment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Thomas Campbell
    Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
  • Chris Dollaghan
    University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
  • Herbert Needleman
    University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
  • Janine Janosky
    University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: kelsey@vms.cis.pitt.edu
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language Disorders / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 1997
Reducing Bias in Language Assessment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1997, Vol. 40, 519-525. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4003.519
History: Received June 25, 1996 , Accepted December 3, 1996
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1997, Vol. 40, 519-525. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4003.519
History: Received June 25, 1996; Accepted December 3, 1996

One potential solution to the problem of eliminating bias in language assessment is to identify valid measures that are not affected by subjects' prior knowledge or experience. In this study, 156 randomly selected school-age boys (31% majority; 69% minority) participated in three “processing-dependent” language measures, designed to minimize the contributions of prior knowledge on performance, and one traditional “knowledge-dependent” language test. As expected, minority subjects obtained significantly lower scores than majority participants on the knowledge-dependent test, but the groups did not differ on any of the processingdependent measures. These results suggest that processing-dependent measures hold considerable promise for distinguishing between children with language disorders, whose poor language performance reflects fundamental psycholinguistic deficits, and children with language differences attributable to differing experiential backgrounds.

Acknowledgments
This investigation was supported in part by research grants from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (R03DC01328 and R29DC01858) and the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (R01ES05015) of the National Institutes of Health. Julie Riess’s assistance in recruitment and data collection is gratefully acknowledged.
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