Preschool Language Scale - Fifth Edition (PLS-5 UK) - Frequently Asked Questions
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Start Points and Age Levels
I like PLS-4UK. How different is PLS-5UK?
Current Norms: A representative new normative sample was collected in the UK from ages 2.6 years to 7.7 years and UK norms extrapolated for ages 7.8 to 7.11 years. New US norms are included for children from birth to 2.5 years.
Streamlined administration: Some tasks were combined in PLS-5 to minimise shifts in administration that require excessive switching between presentation of manipulatives and the Picture Manual.
Improvements to test items: PLS-5UK includes modifications that better elicit target responses and make the items easier to administer and score. Approximately 25% of the items on PLS-5UK are new; 50% have been modified based on therapists’ feedback and expert review; and 25% are unchanged from PLS-4UK.
Addition of Growth Scale Values: PLS-5UK includes Growth Scale Values that were developed so that you can track progress for children from birth to age 7:11.
Now to age 7 years 11 months Now you are able to assess language from emerging communication behaviours to emerging language and literacy skills to age 7:11. This will provide a single, standardised measure for children with significant deficits (such as children with autism) who are being tracked from a very young age through their early school years.
Updated Articulation Screener: You can now test multiple phonemes within words. PLS-5UK includes picture stimuli to elicit target words. The screener takes less than 2 minutes to administer. (US norms)
Are there new tasks for children functioning at an infant/toddler level?
PLS-5UK addresses a wider variety of early play behaviours: play with others (interaction & turntaking) and play with objects (functional and relational play). Use the two-page Home Communication Questionnaire to obtain information from caregivers who have a child whose language abilities are in the Birth to age 2:11 range. If the caregiver completes the Questionnaire before testing, you can score many of the test items without administering them to the child. This frees you up to observe naturally-occurring parent-child interactions during the testing session.
Are there new tasks for preschoolers?
There are new items assessing emergent literacy skills such as book handling and concept of print. Many of the items at this level have been modified based on PLS users’ feedback!
What are the new tasks for older children, especially at age 7?
The new items at age 7 include tasks using synonyms for a word, using two or three target words to construct a sentence, and using prefixes.
Why do the “Preschool” language scales extend to age 7:11?
Providing norms to age 7:11 enables therapists to obtain standardised scores (including Growth Scale Values (GSVs)) to address the needs of children who have severe, persistent language deficits such as children with autism or severe developmental delays.
Start Points and Age Levels
I’m confused about the Start Points versus Developmental Tasks age ranges. What’s the difference?
The start point icon (the arrow) appears throughout the Record Form and the Administration and Scoring Manual. It indicates the recommended Start Point for the ages listed. It does not indicate the age at which the skill is mastered.
The bars marked “Developmental Tasks for Ages __–__ on the Record Form and Administration and Scoring Manual indicate the ages by which developmental tasks are mastered.
Why are the test items so much harder now on PLS-5UK? 'Responds to speaker by smiling' is now at Ages 0:6 to 0:11. It used to be at 2 months.
The age description you are referring to on the Record Form and Administration and Scoring Manual has an arrow icon in front of it (see an example above).
This arrow icon indicates that the age listed is the recommended Start Point for a child age 6 to 11 months. The icon does not indicate the ages at which the skill is acquired. The age band highlighted in gray or purple, such as, “Developmental Task for Ages 0:3–0:5,” shows the developmental ages for the task.
You will see differences in the age placement for some of the PLS-4UK test items on PLS-5UK. Generally, the age placements in PLS–5UK were adjusted to show the ages at which at least 90% of the children in the US acquired the developmental skill. In PLS–4UK, at least 75% of the children in the US had acquired the skill. Changing the criterion for item placement from 75-90% made it more likely that a child can achieve a basal on PLS–5UK at the suggested start point without having to drop back and administer additional items.
For example, the test item 'Responds to speaker by 'smiling' was Item 3 on PLS–4UK and was placed as the most difficult item on PLS-4UK for children ages birth to 2 months. On PLS–5UK, 'responds to speaker by smiling' ' is Item 4, and is placed as the easiest item for ages 0:3–0:5.
We work in a setting with children who crush or tear the pages. After heavy use, the pages get really dirty and we would really like to see a Picture Manual with pages that we can wipe clean. Was this considered when designing the test?
Pearson in the US is piloting a prototype of a Picture Manual with plasticised “tear-resistant” pages. The pages can be crushed then laid flat (it does leave some wrinkles, but the page is still usable) and can be wiped clean after use.
It appears that using this type of material in the manual would add approximately £100 to the cost of the kit. We do not yet know how much time is added to the manual’s shelf life with heavy use.
Do I need to buy the manipulatives set or can I collect my own?
You have the option of purchasing manipulatives sets or collecting your own. The PLS-5UK manipulatives sets are included in the Complete Kit for customers' convenience. If you want to use the manipulables from PLS-4UK, an upgrade manipulables kit is available. Examiners who participated in the PLS-5UK standardisation used the PLS-5UK manipulative set to administer the test. However, if you lose or break one of the manipulatives in the kits, you have the optoin of ordering a replacement from Pearson or using another item from your home or school (e.g., another box that has a lid) that meets the description in the Examiner’s Manual.
The administration directions and record form say I need to use a “loud squeaky toy” to administer some items, but the duck that comes with the kit does not have a loud squeak.
Squeaky toys that are made with latex have a very loud squeak when squeezed because they are stiffer than latex-free squeaky toys. The duck in the PLS–5UK kit is latex-free and has a hole rather a whistle so that there are no loose parts. The duck has a louder squeak when squeezed in a way that maximum air is forced through the hole.
We used a sound level meter and ran a test with the ducks in stock. We found that the “squeak” ranged from approximately 60dB (approximately the noise level of normal conversation) to 80–90db (approximately the noise level of an alarm clock or vacuum cleaner). To get the loudest “squeak”, we recommend you squeeze the duck’s head and body together. See images below.
The squeak volume tends to be low when the duck is squeezed from the sides and/or your thumb is covering the hole. It won’t squeak loudly when you hold it as shown in the images below
I tried to administer Auditory Comprehension item 27 and found that the blue plastic box that comes in the kit is not large enough to fit both the bear and the jug.
It is a tight fit–the bear and blue jug fit snugly (you have to push the bear down), and the bear’s ear sticks up in a way that you cannot fit the lid on the box and snap it shut. Place the bear and jug in the blue box as shown below and simply lay the lid on top.
The plastic blue box in the kit isn’t large enough to fit all the manipulatives!
The plastic blue box in the test box is used to administer specific PLS-5UK test items. It was not meant to be the manipulatives storage box. The large blue box labelled PLS-5UK Manipulatives Set can be used for storage of the manipulatives.
I didn’t receive the books that are shown in the catalogue. I received one book that is different.
Two books come in the PLS-5UK Complete Manipulatives Set.
Our company stocks three different wind-up toys and three different children’s books for the PLS-5UK. When you order a kit with manipulatives, the kit is assembled with two different wind-up toys and two different books randomly selected for inclusion in the kit.
I received two level 2 books (“Dog named Sam” and “Three by Sea”), but I test 2 and 3 year olds, and I need the books that are level 1. Is there a different level of the books that are available?
The three books available are all the same level. The younger children are only tested on book handling or following directions with books (e.g., “Get the book and bring it here, please.” There are no test items for young children requiring Level 1 reading skills.
Can I order individual manipulatives separately or do I have to order the whole set?
You can order any of the PLS-5UK manipulatives individually (e.g., the bear, the blue box). The 2 English children’s books are shrink-wrapped as a set (ISBN 0158658981).
Why does the Upgrade Manipulablestives Kit cost so much? I don’t save much if I order a Basic Kit and just the Upgrade Manipulables kit.
The best “deal” is purchasing the Complete Kit with Manipulables. The Upgrade Manipulables Kit includes the most expensive components of the manipulables set.
Am I able to qualify a child for services using the Auditory Comprehension or Expressive Communication score?
A child may earn a low score on only the AC or EC scale because the child has only a receptive or expressive language disorder. When that happens, the resulting Total Language score may not qualify the child for services. However, low standard scores or percentile ranks for Auditory Comprehension or Expressive Communication, can also be used (in conjunction with other test results) to diagnose a disorder and used as evidence when requesting services.
AC, EC, or Total Language scores can assist a therapist in determining if the child has primarily a receptive language delay/disorder, expressive language delay/disorder, or a delay/disorder that involves both (see the PLS-5UK Examiner’s Manual, p3).
Some children have used the PLS-5UK on so far seemed to be scoring higher than on the PLS-4UK.
A PLS-4/PLS-5 study was conducted in the US in 2010 with 134 children from the PLS-5 standardisation sample. Each child’s PLS-5 Auditory Comprehension (AC), Expressive Communication (EC), and Total Language standard score was compared to the corresponding scores on PLS-4. On average, scores on the PLS-5 are 1 point lower on the AC scale, 1.5 points lower on the EC scale, and 1 point lower on the Total Language score in this study.
We realise that if a child receives PLS-5UK standard scores that are even one point higher than PLS-4UK standard scores that were borderline (e.g., 77), the child may fall within a different diagnostic category. As you will find in the PLS-5UK Examiner’s Manual on page 16.
Because no test is perfectly reliable, the true score is expected to be within a range of scores that reflects the expected amount of measurement error. Using confidence intervals, rather than a specific single score enables you to state the degree of confidence you have in a classification, eligibility, or placement decision based on PLS-5UK results. Therefore, reporting a confidence interval around a child’s score is particularly important in cases for which the score will be used to make critical decisions.
If you are testing a child who has made enough progress on developmental language skills that he or she no longer qualifies for services, but still shows deficits in specific language skill areas, you could undertake:
Additional testing using CELF Preschool2UK, which provides a more in-depth assessment of semantics, morphology, and syntax.
For the children I am working with, PLS-5UK scores seem slightly high. Do you have any insights into this?
In the PLS-4/PLS-5 study conducted in 2010, we found only a 1-2 point score difference between PLS-4 and PLS-5 (see the answer to the previous question)
Whenever a new edition of the test is published, you will see some differences in scores. The UK norms were collected 6 years apart and there are differences between PLS-4UK and PLS-5UK norms.
If you are testing a preverbal child, or a child with limited verbal skills, his scores may be slightly higher on the Expressive Communication test because children at that level are now given credit for key developmental communication skills such as joint attention and using gestures.
When administering the PLS-5UK English to a bilingual student, if the student answers a question correctly however they answer in another language, should that be marked correct or incorrect?
If the child is fluent in English and just happened to give a few correct responses in another language, those responses should be scored as incorrect. PLS-5UK was normed with children whose primary language spoken is English. We did not norm the test with bilingual children who gave responses in another language. Not getting credit for a couple of responses in another language is not likely to tip the child into the disordered range of ability unless the child is giving a large number of answers in another language.
A child was tested at ages 3:11, 4:4 and 4:11 with PLS-4 and PLS-5. The parent indicated that 'I have not seen that much improvement', and is upset about the test results represented by standard scores and percentiles. Are the PLS-5UK norms correct?
It is useful to report GSVs for children who do not progress in line with their peer group as this will indicate small increments in improvement.