Reference profiles for characterizing the language abilities of elementary-grade African American students are important for assessment and instructional planning. H. K. Craig and J. A. Washington (2002) reported performance for 100 typically developing preschoolers and kindergartners on 5 traditional language measures: mean length of communication units, amount of complex syntax production, number of different spoken words, responses to wh-questions, and understanding of active/passive sentence construction. The present study reports performances on the same measures for 295 typically developing African American children in the 1st through 5th grades. Findings revealed increasing performance scores with increasing grades on 4 of the tasks. A ceiling effect was evident on the task that assessed comprehension of active and passive voice. Gender, socioeconomic status, and community influenced the values in systematic ways, and responses to requests for information varied relative to vocabulary skill. These measures are recommended for inclusion in culturally fair assessment protocols designed to characterize the language abilities of elementary-grade African American students.
Key Words: African American, language, minorities, assessment
Submitted on October 21, 2003
Revised on June 11, 2004
Accepted on February 25, 2005
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