Differential Item Functioning Analysis of the Preschool Language Scale—4 Between English-Speaking Hispanic and European American Children From Low-Income Families
The study examined whether item bias is present in the Preschool Language Scale—4 (PLS-4). Participants were 440 children (3—5 years old; 86% English-speaking Hispanic and 14% European American) who were enrolled in Head Start programs. The PLS-4 items were analyzed for differential item functioning (DIF) using logistic regression and a one-parameter item response theory (IRT) model. The logistic regression analysis identified Auditory Comprehension (AC) Item 35 as having non-uniform DIF. Using IRT, AC Item 55 and Expressive Communication (EC) Items 30 and 31 displayed statistical evidence of DIF. AC Item 55 and EC Item 30 were more difficult for Hispanic children than for European American children, whereas the opposite was true for EC Item 31. These findings did not find strong evidence of cultural bias for the PLS-4 against English-speaking Hispanic children from low-income families.
Understanding communicatively impaired minority individuals may involve going beyond strictly linguistic and communicative domains. In particular, considering the psychoemotional aspects impacting these clients may be extremely helpful for treating them and enhancing their response to therapy. This article provides an overview of issues on minority bilingual individuals that are relevant to professionals in mental health and speech-language pathology. We use Hispanics, the fastest growing minority in the United States, for illustration. The material discussed in this article highlights some of the benefits of collaborative communication between mental health professionals and speech-language pathologists (SLPs). Such communication would enhance SLPs’ understanding of the interesting interconnections among emotions, culture, and language in immigrant and minority persons with valuable applications to therapeutic services with these individuals.
The purpose of the investigation was to examine the developmental trajectories of bilingual preschoolers’ comprehension of Spanish and English and to determine whether a lengthy summer vacation impacted children’s development during the preschool years. Participants included 83 bilingual children who were followed over a 2-year period during which time children attended a federally funded preschool programme for children from low-income homes living in the US. Children were divided into two groups based on whether their scores on receptive language measures increased or decreased during their first year of Head Start. Results revealed that children whose scores increased experienced positive growth in their language comprehension in Spanish and English over the 2-year period, whereas children whose scores decreased during the first year continued to experience a negative developmental trajectory in their second year. Additionally, it was found that a lengthy summer vacation had a differential effect on children’s development. Summer vacation had a negative effect on the developmental trajectories of children who experienced gains in their comprehension of English and Spanish and a positive impact on children whose scores declined during the school year. Clinical implications suggest that children may require differential support during the school year and summer vacation depending upon their developmental trajectories during the first year in preschool.