Interpreting Test Scores in Toddlers and Preschoolers – “Teach Me To Talk with Laura and Kate” on Thursday, February 12, 2009

Join Kate and me this week for Teach Me To Talk with Laura and Kate on Thursday, February 12 at 6:00 pm Eastern time.

This week we’re going to discuss how to interpret test scores from speech-language evaluations and other standardized and criterion-referenced developmental assessments. This may not be the most interesting topic we’ve ever covered, but I routinely get questions about this on the website, in e-mails, and from parents I work with wondering exactly what it all means.

If you have general questions about results of your child’s testing, we’d love to hear from you! Please call us with your questions or comments. Our call-in number is 1-718-766-4332. We’d love to hear from you!

You can listen live by clicking this icon. Listen to Teach Me To Talk with Laura and Kate on internet talk radio

If you can’t join us live, you can always listen later anytime using the blogtalkradio icon in the right hand column or on the home page.

Our show is also available for FREE download on itunes. Visit the itunes store and search “Teach Me to Talk with Laura and Kate.” For you itunes novices, choose subscribe, and the show will download so you can listen later with your ipod.

Hope you’ll join us! Laura

Posted in ,



  1. Lorelei on February 19, 2009 at 10:25 am

    Thank you for providing such a valuable resource. I wonder if you can address something we were told by an Early Intervention worker. We told her that we wanted to take our son to a private speech pathologist to get a second opinion, because we were not confident about the first evaluation he received. Our primary concern with the original evaluation was that we think he seems to have some sort of a physical problem (like apraxia or something similar), but the first pathologist apparently did not think so. The county worker informed us that we cannot have a second evaluation done by anyone until 6 months have gone by, or it’s not “valid.” What?? She is telling us that there is some sort of rule among speech pathologists that works to prevent parents from receiving a second opinion? Do you know what she is talking about and can you explain? I am wondering now if I am going to have to hide the fact of the first evaluation in order to get a second one? I am not good at dissembling so I am uncomfortable at the prospect. However, I am prepared to do whatever is required in order to get my son a good evaluation.

  2. Maria on February 19, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Dear Laura and Kate,

    Thank you so much for doing this show. My 23-month-old just “barely qualified” for speech and we had decided to wait and see before going forward because she scored so high in all of the other areas. Ten minutes into your show, I paused it and called the evaluator back to tell her we changed our minds! By the end of the show, I was just stunned (and a little terrified). The evaluator really made it sound like “barely qualified” meant that she was just a little behind. It was really hard to hear but needed to be said.

    Thanks again for all of your work in putting together this wonderful resource.

  3. Laura on February 20, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Maria – Glad the information was helpful in assisting you to make good decisions for your daughter. 23 months is a GREAT age to start therapy, and since she has so many strengths in other areas, I hope therapy is a “jump start” for her and that she’s catches up quickly. Let us know how she does! Laura

  4. Laura on February 20, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Lorelei – There is no “rule” among SLPs about evals not being “valid” if done within 6 months of each other. The rule may be that your state program doesn’t pay for or allow another assessment for 6 months, but if you’re doing this privately and are not using the same payor system for both (say your insurance), you should be fine. Seeking a 2nd opinion is even pretty standard for insurance companies, so I don’t even think that would be a problem unless your policy prohibits this. I have heard that some state early intervention programs dissallow services thru their programs if a child is being seen thru another program, so this could be the reason too, but these are all related to PAYMENT issues, not anything resembling “validity.” If your gut tells you to get another opinion, then I’d do it, regardless of who I had to tell/not tell to make it happen. Laura

  5. Lorelei on February 20, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Thanks so much for the reply, I really appreciate your help. It’s very nice of you to take the time to help out a total stranger like me! I suspected as much, but then I thought, what do I know?

  6. Carey on February 22, 2009 at 9:58 am

    Hi: I just listened to your talk on the the “barely eligible” issue. Does this apply to the Michigan test as well? Also, in my state, children must have a 30 percent delay in one developmental area to qualify. How does that effect the interpretation of barely eligible scores?Thanks so much for your very informative website and talks.

  7. Laura on February 23, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Carey – I don’t know the Michigan regulations. My advice is to talk to the team who evaluated your child and scour the report and specific test results for answers. Laura

  8. teresa on September 21, 2010 at 3:09 pm


    My daughter is almost 4 and too old for our county based Early Intervention program, so I have been trying to get the school district to take her on. Long story short, her scores always show to be within normal range even though I feel like there is a big language based problem going on. We recently had her tested with a private slp again. She used the CELF Preshool 2. In pretty much showed normal scores except in one area. Hooray, I am not crazy!

    Here’s a quick preview of her scores:
    Average Range 86-114

    core language 92
    receptive 94
    Expressive 87
    language content 100
    language structure 80*

    Subtest areas that she fell out of average range on – range 7-13

    word structure 5
    concepts and following directions 7
    recalling sentences 6

    additionally she had a huge discrepancy in her LCI and LSI scores: language content score 100, structure index 80 making a difference of 20 and a Prevalence of 2.4%

    The manual stated anything under 5% was HIGHLY unusal.

    What can you tell me about such a low prevalence and do you have any suggestions as to activities that would target language structure.

    Thanks. You are a gift.

  9. Laura on September 26, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Teresa – This is a complicated question! You likely are going to have to have her seen by a private SLP since she is scoring in the normal range overall. I don’t use the CELF, so I can’t really comment on the specifics of that test other than to say that her scores do not fit a normal pattern of delay. You’re going to need someone to really help you unravel this mystery, and most of the time, school SLPs are not going to be the one to do that since they don’t have time with their busy caseloads. If at all possible, I’d recommend that you ask many people for referrals to private SLPs and when you start hearing the same name over and over, take her to that person. Good luck!! Laura

  10. Misty on August 26, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Hello Laura,
    I am unable to listen to your program because I have an ancient computer!
    Can you tell me why a child (2.9 year old female) may score higher on the expressive portion of the Pls-4 than the receptive portion. No signs of autism…Family is speaking in 2 different languages…

  11. Laura on August 29, 2011 at 7:31 am

    Hi Misty. It perhaps could be an early indication of an auditory processing. How are her pragmatic skills? Is she “using” the words she knows? Sometimes the PLS-4 seems to artificially inflate expressive skills. Take a hard look at the milestones and be sure you’re not giving her credit for things she’s truly not mastered in her daily life. Laura

  12. Lynn on September 17, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    So when are you planning to be on TV again? And if so what time and what channel will it be on? i’m new to this ..I have speech and over all development coming in to work with my child ..And i need all the help I can get..thank Lynn

  13. Laura on September 17, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Lynn – I’m not on TV. My show is a podcast which is more like a radio show. You can listen to any episode from here on the website. Scroll up and look in the right column for the blue square that says “blogtalkradio.” Click on the # and you can listen to the show from your computer. If you have an iPod, you can download the show from iTunes and listen from it. Laura

Leave a Comment

Sign Up for your Free eBook


Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Subscribe to the Podcast in iTunes

Browse Products

Featured Product

Recent Posts

Teach Me To Talk Testimonials

Happy Therapists, Teachers, Parents & Children

"I just received Teach Me to Play With You, and it is ALREADY WORKING! WOW!

Girl…my son is 3 years old, and he NEVER asks for something using words. We were playing “Get Your Belly” (from Teach Me to Play WITH You), and after several times, he laughed and screamed "BEWIEEE!!!"  It was a hoot. And I can't believe he said it! I have played with him like this before, but this time I took your advice and acted CRAZY!! I will act like a total lunatic if it will get him to talk to me!  Now I can give him "the look" from across the room, and he will say it. That manual is so amazingly practical, and it is a GODSEND right now! Thank you SO MUCH!”

"I wanted to send you a quick email to say thank you. I started watching your videos/podcasts about 4 months ago. My son has gone from losing words he previously used, only having about 7 words at his 2 year check up in August (assessed at a blended 10 month language level) -- to now having so many words, increased social engagement, following commands, spontaneously requesting things, and naming letters & numbers (not in order) as well as colors. We had our monthly meeting with our SLP through the state infants & toddlers program and it felt like we were just bragging the whole time, but I knew in the back of my head it was because I have been using strategies you taught me.

We still have so much work to do with our sweet boy, but I know in my heart he would not have succeeded without the education you provided. I will continue to read your emails & watch videos as we go along this journey and face challenges, but credit is due to you, Laura.

Thank you so much, endlessly."


"I just want to tell how fortunate I feel to have found your website and you!! I became a special instructor in EI almost a year ago and I started with hardly any applicable training. I felt so lost and confused as how to help the kids I work with learn how to use words and play. Honestly, I didn't even understand the importance of play, although I always played with my kids. But, once I started to watch your podcasts and get some of your manuals I felt a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and that I could finally teach these kids and their families something of value from a real therapist and based on research!. Thank you so much for seeing the need to help other EI service providers and providing a forum to share your knowledge and years of valuable experience. I'm sure you get a lot of these emails every week if not every day, but I wanted to make I could add to those notes of gratitude!! THANK YOU again!!"


"Just wanted to say a HUGE thank you for these emails and your books, I have them all and they have seriously saved and improved my sessions with my kiddos. Huge thank you."


"I was very frustrated with how speech therapy was going for my child. I would take him and drop him off and not hear much of anything from his therapist and teachers other than, "He had a good (or a bad!) day." Your materials were invaluable for us because I learned how to work with him on his speech. I learned how to teach him to talk and play. I learned how to pay attention to his cues and work with him to teach him to communicate. Without it, I have no doubt he still wouldn’t talk."


"Hi! I just wanted to say (from an SLT perspective) how incredibly useful I am finding absolutely all of your articles, blogs and resources - I only discovered your site last month and have just received all your books which I feel I am learning more than on my entire university training course!! But also the way in which you give specific, realistic, fun, encouraging ideas for working with parents is really just fantastic, I only wish I have your site sooner! Thanks so much from the UK! Kind regards."


"I just wanted to reach out to say thank you for making things a little easier to manage for me this year. I made the transition from school SLP to private therapist about a year ago. While the change was welcome, it was a lot, and I was just getting my footing in the clinic when I began teletherapy full time. Your website has been a huge lifeline in helping me work with late talkers and coach their parents in an accessible but effective way, even remotely. I look forward to getting your emails each week. I am floored by the amount of valuable, free information that your website provides, and I’m looking forward to investing in your workbooks soon. A sincere thank you for all you do!"


"You are an inspiration! I am truly grateful for the way you put into words and writing how to do what we do as SLPs. At this time in my 13 years of practicing, I find your encouragement keeps me going. As a single mom, I find it a stretch to buy materials these days and I am so thankful for the freebies you so generously share that help me teach my families. I don’t have much time to put together lists or quick references for parents!! Much gratitude!!"