Today we will be talking about transitioning from the PLS-4 to the PLS-5 in your pediatric therapy practice. There are some changes in the PLS-5 that we all should be aware of.

What are some basic test administration guidelines for the PLS-5?

  • If testing in the home, make sure the child’s toys are not a distractor
  • Only take out of the box the testing toys you need for the item you are administering. Put the rest of the testing toys in the box, out of the child’s reach.
  • Do not let the child play with the testing toys unless you are administering an item with the testing toys.
  • It is acceptable to group the items administered by testing toys needed. So, you could give all the items involving blocks and then all the items involving the stimulus book, etc. This will cut down on distractions.
  • Always start testing with an item the child will be successful with.
  • The protocol does not have all of the information needed to administer and score an item. You need to reference the Administration and Scoring Manual for a full set of directions and acceptable responses.

Tell us about the record form and how to score test items.

For items administered for the ages birth through age 2 years 11 months, you have 3 methods of assessment to score the item:

  • Elicitation – You can give credit if you are able to elicit the target behavior based on the elicitation procedures described in the administration directions section of the manual.
  • Observation – You can give credit if you observe the child exhibiting the target behavior in spontaneous interactions.
  • Caregiver Report – You can ask the caregiver questions provided in the administration directions section of the manual. These questions are not listed on the protocol. There are 19 questions on the AC scale and 26 questions on the EC scale.

The pass criterion is listed on the record form. Score 1 for pass or 0 for did not pass.

If a child self corrects a response on any item, write SC next to them item and record the child’s revised response. Rescore the item based on the self correction, even if the child’s revised response renders a previously correct item incorrect. (Jenn’s note – This leads me to believe they want the skill generalized for it to be correct. If you can elicit a response, but the child doesn’t exhibit the skill in spontaneous productions then the child doesn’t get credit for the item.)

During the standardization of the PLS-5, partially correct responses were typical of children with a language disorder. Make sure you look at the list of possible responses so you know what is partially correct or incomplete versus correct.

The caregiver is not the SLPA. Please remember that the SLPA cannot make judgements about skills. They can only report their data. Just because a child can display a skill in the therapy room does not mean the skill is generalized. If the SLPA feels the child has displayed the skill in the tx room you will still need to elicit the skill during the test.

What are the PLS-5’s basal and ceiling rules?

  • The child must receive credit for 3 items in a row to have established a basal. If the child does not get the basal at the starting point, you should drop back an age level. Continue to do this until 3 items in a row are scored correct.
  • Some children do not achieve a basal, especially if their starting point is number 1.
  • A ceiling is achieved when the child earns a score of 0 on 6 consecutive items.
  • During standardization, typical kids were seen to have scatter at the upper end of their ability levels. They may not pass 4 items, but then pass the next 4 items. The ceiling of 6 items prevents us from prematurely ending testing.

Can you repeat test items?

  • When administering practice items, you can provide additional support for the child to allow them to rehearse the appropriate answer. After the practice item is completed, you cannot give any other cues on subsequent items.
  • You can only repeat test directions once if you feel that child wasn’t attending for whatever reason.
  • You cannot repeat the test directions on EC56 or EC57.
  • If you change the wording or provide cues not listed in the administration section, you have invalidated the test results and you cannot score the test.

What about kids with dialects or kids with severe impairments? How would you administer the PLS-5 to those children?

Dialect – There is an Appendix that gives guidelines for scoring responses of children who speak a dialect other than Mainstream American English

Modifying Administration for Special Populations – There are suggestions on how to modify scores for special populations. It is noted that if you modify the test in some ways you cannot score using the norms and other modifications allow you to use the norms. The following populations are discussed:

  • Severe developmental disabilities
  • Severe physical impairments
  • Hearing impairments
  • Sign language
  • Visual impairments
  • Autism

Are there any differences in the norms used for the PLS-5

Are we using the month by month norms for 2-6, 2-7, 2-8, 2-9, 2-10, 2-11?

Tell us about the Item Analysis Checklist

  • Appendix F form.
  • The checklist shows all them items in the AC and EC scales by developmental age level.
  • Enables you to scan quickly and determine if there is a pattern of errors across age levels.

What is new in the supplemental measures?

Supplemental Measures

* Home Communication Questionnaire

  • Can be used with children birth to 2 years 11 months
  • Can be given before or after assessment
  • Not norm referenced
  • Looking to see if the parent report is in line with observed findings

* Articulation Screener

  • Can be administered to children 2 years 6 months to 7 years 11 months
  • Child can spontaneously produce or repeat picture labels
  • Not norm referenced
  • There are 23 speech sounds in the initial, medial or final position of words
  • Score incorrect for any substitution, omission or distortion of the target phoneme
  • All items should be administered and raw score totaled

* Language Sample Checklist

  • Provides a means to evaluate the child’s spontaneous speech
  • Helps you validate the score on the EC scale
  • You need to collect enough utterances to fill out the check list. You can start with 5 minutes of speech.
  • You can document information regarding syntax, morphology, semantics, social language and speech intelligibility
  • Rating Intelligibility page 120
  • MLU – Brown’s stages page 119
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