The WMLS manual on page 5 states that the WMLS is a test of the aspects of language that are acquired in formal schooling. In the WMLS manual, it seems to me that the English WMLS is standardized on monolingual English speakers and can be used to identify gifted students. It seems to me that the Spanish WMLS is standardized on monolingual Spanish speakers.

The Spanish CELF manual states on page 17-18 that the most of the subtests for the Spanish CELF assess BICS. Three Spanish CELF subtests, Listening to Paragraphs, Word Definitions and Expressive Vocabulary, are tests of CALP. So, no CALP subtest is used for the Core Language Score until the age of 13 years. “The Spanish CELF 4 is not designed for assessment of academic achievement.”

Here are some questions I have:

1. If CALP skills take 5-7 years to develop and BICS take 1-2 years, what is the rationale for using the results of a test of CALP (WMLS) to determine whether to give a test of BICS (Spanish CELF)?

We do not use the WMLS to determine whether or not to administer formal tests in Spanish. The primary purpose of the Woodcock-Muñoz/ Woodcock-Johnson is to determine classroom placement.

2. If the WMLS is a test of those aspects of language which develop from formal schooling, what is the rationale for using the results of the Spanish WMLS to determine whether to give the Spanish CELF if the student has never received any education in Spanish?

Again, we do not use this to determine what tests to administer in our assessment. We always try to administer both formal and informal tests in both languages. If formal tests are not possible due to low proficiency, we use only informal measures.

3. Since the English WMLS is standardized on monolingual English speakers, we could use the English WMLS to determine the CALP levels for monolingual English students who are referred for a speech-language evaluation. What is the rationale for determining CALP levels for bilingual students when we are not determining CALP levels for monolingual English students?

Good question. Since the primary purpose of these two tests is to make decisions about classroom placement (a regular education decision), there is not a need to determine CALP for monolinguals to make that decision since their obvious classroom placement is English.

4. What research has been conducted to determine whether the results of the WMLS can be used to predict a student’s performance on the CELF?

We’ve started looking at this this year and have found that students’ scores on the Woodcock-Muñoz and the Woodcock-Johnson often fall about 10 standard score points below our testing results for expressive and receptive. When we remove the effects of Crystallized Knowledge (aka, experiential knowledge), the scores are similar.

These are great questions. One thing I wanted to put out there is that the reason our district decided upon these measures was reactionary to bilingual children not receiving bilingual assessment. There were way too many instances in which the school decided that the bilingual child (who was in monolingual English classroom) did not need bilingual speech-language testing since they were in an English-placement setting.

Secondly, even if we had determined that the child had language abilities in Spanish (L2) and they wanted LD testing they would not request for bilingual academic testing because we were testing for “language” and so….. we (the bilingual SLPs) started to give the WMLS to document that the child demonstrated academic skills and therefore needed to be tested in both languages for LD assessment (or at least consider which IQ test to administer).

I think that our district has come leaps and bounds since then and the flowchart should be revised. At the beginning of the flowchart is stated that if the child had significant exposure to another language that it must be investigated. We did narrative samples in L1 and L2 and conversational samples in L1 and L2 and if LD was being requested then we would also give the WMLS to demonstrate that the child needed to be looked at bilingually as well. Ellen, you mentioned the last time we met that it’s usually the LSSPs that give the WMLS, well at the time no one was giving it so the SLPs started to do it in reaction to too many people saying the child did NOT need bilingual assessment.

I agree that the CELF scores would score on average 10 points higher than the WMLS. We didn’t use the WMLS for eligibility just to establish that the child needed to be looked at in both languages (in addition to the conversational and narrative samples). Maybe the wording needs to be changed… but the concepts are there. When possible test in both formally and informally, although sometimes informal assessment is only possible in L2. Maybe you can send the flowchart to us to dissect?

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