The Potential of Past Tense Marking in Oral Reading as a Clinical Marker of Specific Language Impairment in School-Age Children Purpose The purpose of this study was twofold. The first aim was to explore differences in profiles of past tense marking in oral reading of school-age children with specific language impairment (SLI). The second aim was to explore the potential of past tense marking in oral reading as a clinical ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 20, 2017
The Potential of Past Tense Marking in Oral Reading as a Clinical Marker of Specific Language Impairment in School-Age Children
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Krystal L. Werfel
    University of South Carolina, Columbia
  • Alison Eisel Hendricks
    University of South Carolina, Columbia
  • C. Melanie Schuele
    Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Krystal L. Werfel: werfel@sc.edu
  • Krystal L. Werfel was affiliated with Vanderbilt University at the time of data collection.
    Krystal L. Werfel was affiliated with Vanderbilt University at the time of data collection.×
  • Alison Eisel Hendricks is now affiliated with University at Buffalo, The State University of New York.
    Alison Eisel Hendricks is now affiliated with University at Buffalo, The State University of New York.×
  • Editor-in-Chief: Sean Redmond
    Editor-in-Chief: Sean Redmond×
  • Editor: Geralyn Timler
    Editor: Geralyn Timler×
Article Information
Development / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 20, 2017
The Potential of Past Tense Marking in Oral Reading as a Clinical Marker of Specific Language Impairment in School-Age Children
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2017, Vol. 60, 3561-3572. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-17-0115
History: Received April 2, 2017 , Revised July 25, 2017 , Accepted August 17, 2017
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2017, Vol. 60, 3561-3572. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-17-0115
History: Received April 2, 2017; Revised July 25, 2017; Accepted August 17, 2017
Web of Science® Times Cited: 1

Purpose The purpose of this study was twofold. The first aim was to explore differences in profiles of past tense marking in oral reading of school-age children with specific language impairment (SLI). The second aim was to explore the potential of past tense marking in oral reading as a clinical marker of SLI in school-age children.

Method This study examined oral readings of connected text to describe the frequency and type of reading errors on regular and irregular past tense verbs for 21 children with SLI as compared to 30 children with typical language in Grades 2 and 3. Each past tense verb token was categorized into 1 of 6 mutually exclusive response types: (a) correctly marked past tense, (b) overmarked past tense, (c) bare stem, (d) other verb inflection, (e) nonverb, or (f) no response. Performance across groups was compared. Additionally, classification statistics were calculated at several cutoffs for regular past tense accuracy and regular past tense finiteness marking.

Results For regular past tense, there was a significant group difference on accuracy. Children with SLI were less accurate at marking past tense when in oral reading than typical language peers; other response types did not differ. For irregular past tense, there were no group differences. In addition, there was a significant group difference on finiteness marking; this difference was driven by regular but not irregular verbs. A cutoff of 90% for regular past tense accuracy yielded moderate sensitivity and specificity; no cutoff for regular past tense finiteness marking yielded sensitivity above 70%.

Conclusions Regular past tense accuracy in oral reading provides promise as a clinical marker for diagnosing SLI in school-age children.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by a Jeanne S. Chall Research Fellowship from the International Reading Association, awarded to Krystal L. Werfel; Preparation of Leadership Personnel Grant H325D080075 and H325D140087 from the U.S. Department of Education, awarded to C. Melanie Schuele; and Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Science Award Grant UL1 RR024975 from the National Center for Research Resources/National Institutes of Health, awarded to Gordon Bernard. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the views of the International Reading Association, the U.S. Department of Education, or the National Institutes of Health. We appreciate the efforts of Sarah Lorch on an earlier analysis of these data, supported by H325K090304.
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