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Speech-language pathologists experience uncertainty about how to interpret standardized assessment results for Indigenous Australian children. There are risks for inappropriate diagnosis: both over- and under-diagnosis of language impairment may occur due to a convergence of linguistic features which causes difficulty in distinguishing between impairment and difference. While the literature suggests that standardized assessments are inappropriate for Indigenous Australian children, there is an absence of empirical documentation to show how Indigenous children perform on standardized tests of language ability. This study examined the performance of 19 Indigenous Australian children, aged 8;01–13;08, from one school on the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals, Fourth Edition, Australian Standardized Edition. Standardized scores were compared with teacher ratings of children's oral language skills. Analysis showed poor alignment between teacher ratings and language assessment, and assessment scores were negatively influenced by features of Aboriginal English. Children rated with above average language skills presented with different linguistic profiles from the children rated with average and below average language abilities. The inappropriateness of current standardized language assessments for Indigenous children and the need for further research to guide appropriate assessment are discussed.


School of Allied Health

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Journal Article

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