Part of my day job is evaluating prospective students at our learning center to determine what they’re struggling with and how we’ll best be able to help them. Most of these students are 6 and older, but every once in a while we get a younger child in who is already showing signs of reading challenges. Much of our testing battery isn’t normed for a student younger than six, and in times like that we administer a Preschool Language Assessment Inventory test that checks everything from matching to verbal expression.
Last week I administered this test with a young girl who is just a few months younger than Miles. It’s been a while since I last attempted any evaluation measures with him myself (the only previous time was during the pandemic, when I gave him a picture-based vocabulary test), and working with this girl had me curious about how Miles would score on the PLAI.
I often tell parents that they will likely never see their children at “their best” as students. Most children are conditioned to test their parents in ways they wouldn’t try with their teachers, home is a less suitable instruction environment than school is (i.e., all their stuff is there), etc., etc. And yet there I was, on a Sunday, not listening to my own advice and trying to administer a test with Miles. I knew I was in trouble when, on an early item, I asked Miles to point to “the things that can be used to carry other things” and he deliberately and methodically pointed to every picture that did NOT serve that function. There were a lot of stops and starts.
It ultimately took three sessions to get through the thing, but we did it. The result? Even with the goofy answers he didn’t get credit for (I didn’t re-administer those items, wanting to keep the results as impartial as possible), Miles scored in the above average range on just about every measure. I assumed he would, but it’s always nice to have some validation.
The one area where he was “merely” average? Receptive listening. ALSO what I expected.