Teacher identification of speech and language impairment in kindergarten students using the Kindergarten Development Check
The purpose of this paper was to profile the extent and accuracy of teacher identification of speech and language impairment within a kindergarten student population in Tasmania, Australia, using the Kindergarten Development Check (KDC). A total of 286 kindergarten students (aged 4-5 years and in their first year of formal schooling) were screened by teachers with the KDC on two separate occasions over their kindergarten year. In the following academic year, each of the same 286 students were assessed by a speech-language pathologist, and diagnosed with either typically developing or impaired speech and/or language skills. Review of KDC data determined the number of students identified by teachers with speech and language impairment at each occasion during their kindergarten year. Comparison of data from the later KDC administration and speech-language pathology assessment then determined the correspondence between identification of speech and language impairment by teachers and speech-language pathologists. Upon initial administration of the KDC, 51 (17.8%) students were identified by teachers with language impairment and 47 (16.4%) students with speech impairment. Following the second administration of the KDC 3 months later, 20 (7.0%) students continued to be identified with language impairment, and 39 (13.6%) with speech impairment. Comparison of speech-language pathology testing results and KDC data from the second administration found the overall validity of teacher identification was 86.4% and 71% for speech and language impairment respectively. Specificity rates were high, with 93% and 97% of students with typically developing speech and language skills respectively, correctly classified on the KDC. However, the sensitivity was only 50% for speech impairment and 15% for language impairment, indicating that 50% of students presenting with speech impairment and 85% of students with language impairment in their subsequent academic year were not recorded by teachers as having such a difficulty on the later KDC administration during their kindergarten year. The KDC appears to be ineffective in supporting kindergarten teachers to identify students with ongoing speech and to a greater extent, language impairment. Measures to improve the sensitivity of the KDC in particular need to be considered by speech-language pathologists and educational professionals in Tasmania.