Monday, December 3, 2012

My thoughts on....the CASL versus the CELF-4

This post is inspired by all of the re-evaluations I have to do this year and the ones I have already gotten done.

At my school, I test the majority of the students with the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals- 4th Edition (CELF-4). It was the test that I used for the majority of graduate school and the only multi-topic one that I have on hand at my school. (I have to borrow everything else from the other SLPs). Needless to say, I have a pretty good relationship now with this test. I really loved this assessment tool when I first started out. It covers syntax, following directions, retell, and pragmatics to hit the high points. My feelings towards the test have dampened a little over time as I've come to realize how much of an emphasis it places on syntax. It is not easy for students from lower socio-economic statuses or English as a Second Language to do well on this assessment. Granted, the test isn't supposed to be easy per say...but it really makes some of the kids frustrated. The students I test are so stressed about every test they take and I feel really bad for them as the tasks get increasing harder. I usually give them "brain breaks" to help ease some of the tension.  

So, I decided to give the Comprehensive Assessment of Spoken Language a try during my most recent re-evaluation.  
I really like the larger variety of subtests that it offers and the flexibility. It is still going to challenge students but I think the variety lessens some of the frustration. My student also seemed more confident than many of the ones who endure the CELF-4. The easy chart that tells you what to do for each age group is a life saver:

3-0 to
5-0 to
7-0 to
11-0 to
13-0 to
18-0 to
Comprehension of Basic ConceptsCS
Sentence CompletionSSSSSS
Idiomatic LanguageSSS
Syntax ConstructionCCCSSS
Paragraph Comprehension of SyntaxSCCS
Grammatical MorphemesSCSS
Sentence Comprehension of SyntaxCSS
Grammaticality JudgmentSSCC
Nonliteral LanguageCCCC
Meaning from ContextSCC
Ambiguous SentencesSSS
Pragmatic JudgmentCCCCCC

The hardest part of this test was figuring out the scoring manual. I got really confused with the layout of the scores and had to re-score it after consulting with the other SLPs in my district. That's definitely my biggest complaint with it.

I'm pretty sure I will be experimenting more with the CASL in the months to come. It's always good to open yourself to new tools.


  1. I have just started giving the CASL in lieu of the CELF some, too. I like it because I think it looks at skills that are more functional and things I will actually target unlike the CELF, which I feel doesn't separate out the skills very well. My complaint with the CASL is that it feels pretty dated. Also, I worry about that the kids are testing TOO high, so it might potentially under-identify some kids, whereas I feel the CELF has potential to over-identify. There is no perfect comprehensive language test. If I were more ambitious, I'd look into designing one myself!

    1. I agree. The additional struggle of working with a high population of English Language Learners brings assessment up to a whole new ball game for me. I really haven't been satisfied with any of the tests I have tried with them. The CELF puts away too much weight on syntax in my opinion. I've been trying really hard to collaborate more with the ESL teachers to work through those cases given the formal evaluation results, informal language samples, and observations that I conduct.