What’s New in the World of Assessment Materials in Spanish?

  • March 13, 2006
  • Henriette Langdon

In the February 2006 edition of ¿Qué Tal? I responded to some questions coming from readers regarding various issues, most of them surrounding the topic of language intervention for ELL students with various speech and language impairments. This month I want to share two new assessment tools available in Spanish with our readers.


The Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals- Spanish Edition (CELF-4 Spanish) published by Psychological Corporation was released in late 2005. This edition mirrors the format in English but is by no means a translation.

New Features:

This new edition enables the clinician to reach several goals that are listed in the manual. The most important are: (1) Ability to use the test from ages 5 to 21; (2) Strengthen the links between the test and requirements of the IDEA 2004 (the test includes measures of phonological awareness, and classroom rating scales to consider academic subjects such as listening, speaking, reading, writing) as well as social communication; and (3) Assessment of student’s Basic Communication Skills (BICS) as well as Cognitive Academic Language Skills (CALP) to encompass a broader spectrum of language used in typical language arts, science, math, and social studies in the United States and Puerto Rico.

Standardization Procedures:

The distribution of the sample of bilingual-Spanish-speaking students included is representative of today’s diverse Hispanic population residing in the United States. The majority of subjects were from Mexican backgrounds, (about 45%) followed by those from Central and South American (28%). Students from Puerto Rico followed with about 18%. Hispanic populations from the Dominican Republic followed with 4.5% and Cuba, 2.25%.

Using the CELF-4 to benefit a Student- A bilingual SLP perspective.

The construction of the test just as the English version could be equated to that of “an onion” that has various layers:

Layer Administer
1. “Is there evidence of a language disorder” Core subtests
2. “What is the nature of the disorder? Supplementary Subtests
3. “Which related or underlying clinical behaviors are present?” Phonological Awareness-Word Associations-Working Memory. RAN
4. How does the disorder affect classroom performance and social interactions? Oral Language SamplesPragmatics Checklists.

However, I want to warn our readers that:

“It is important to remember that a single test administration does not provide you with sufficient information to diagnose a language disorder. Evaluating the language skills of a Spanish-speaking student, whether the student is in a bilingual or monolingual environment is a complex process. For an overall evaluation of the student’s language ability, the results of CELF-4 Spanish should be supplemented with a complete family and academic history, parent interview, results of other formal and informal measures an analysis of a spontaneous language sample, the results of other linguistic and metalinguistic abilities tests, classroom behavioral observations, observations with peers, and evaluation of pragmatic and interpersonal communication abilities. Of the student is bilingual, it is best practice to evaluate skills in both languages.” (Semel, Wiig, & Secord, 2006, p.18).

Therefore, even though we have a very helpful tool in our hands, it is up to us, clinicians, to use the tool wisely always keeping our student’s best interest in mind.


Background Information

The WABC® in English was published by Super Duper Publications in 2004. It is designed to assess young children’s comprehension and production of various basic concepts. The assessment consists of using a colorful storybook as a tool to elicit those concepts. The test administrator can ask the questions using the pictures in the book, or read the comments under each picture while asking the questions

Some Features of the Spanish Version

The WABC®-Spanish mirrors the construction of the English version. “A Day at the Zoo” (Un Dia en el Zoologico) was written for children between the ages of 3 and 5 years. The second book “A Day at the Park” (Un Día en el Parque) was written for children ages 5 and 7 years of age.

However, the Spanish version of the WABC® is not a word-by-word translation but, instead, was adapted by me with feedback from students who speak different Spanish dialects as well as fluent bilingual speakers from all representative Hispanic groups in the United States (including monolingual speakers from Mexico, Puerto Rico and Panama). Each item includes vocabulary to match various Spanish dialects.

The test was normed on approximately 700 children. The purpose of the assessment is not to determine eligibility, but to identify the concepts that the child can use and/or understand. A qualitative analysis of the child’s responses enables teachers and educators to teach and practice those concepts. If a child does not respond or provides mostly English responses, administration of the English version is encouraged.
Some of my students and I used the preliminary versions of the WABC®- Spanish, with monolingual Head Start Spanish-speaking children this past summer and results were shared with teachers. This allowed us to work on similar goals to enhance the children’s knowledge of concepts that were unfamiliar to them.

April 2006
A Model Program for Early Intervention for Infants and Toddlers from Spanish-speaking homes

As always, I do welcome your comments.

Henriette W. Langdon, Ed.D., F-CCC-SLP
Communicative Disorders & Sciences
College of Education
San José State University
San José, CA 95192-0079
408-924-4019 voice
408-924-3641 fax


Gracias – Thank you.

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