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Conceptual Scoring and Classification Accuracy of Vocabulary Testing in Bilingual Children



This study examined the effects of single-language and conceptual scoring on the vocabulary performance of bilingual children with and without specific language impairment. We assessed classification accuracy across 3 scoring methods.


Participants included Spanish-English bilingual children (N = 247) aged 5;1 (years;months) to 11;1 with and without specific language impairment. Children completed the English and bilingual versions of the Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test-Third Edition (Brownell, 2000a, 2001). Six scores, 2 representing monolingual scores in English and Spanish and 4 conceptual scores, were derived. The conceptual scores included within-test conceptual scores, which credited language responses in the other language during test administration, and across-test conceptual scores, which we compiled by examining responses across independent administrations of the test in each language.


Across-test conceptual scoring resulted in the highest scores and better overall classification, sensitivity, and specificity than within-test conceptual scoring. Both were superior to monolingual scoring; however, none of the methods achieved minimum standards of 80% accuracy in sensitivity and specificity.


Results suggest that bilingual children are not always able to readily access their other language in confrontation naming tasks. Priming or inhibition may play a role in test performance. Across-test conceptual scoring yielded the highest classification accuracy but did not meet minimum standards.

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