Standardized Testing with Deaf/Hard of Hearing Students (originally published January 1, 2014)

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Have you ever had someone tell you that you cannot give tests standardized on typical hearing children to DHH students?  I have been told that. Here is one study that refutes that claim for two tests.

Mi-young Webb, Amy Lederberg,  Measuring Phonological Awareness in Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children, Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, published July 30, 2013    Retrieved 11/9/13

This study had two purposes:  to evaluate the psychometric properties of two standardized tests of phonological awareness and to provide a detailed description of phonological awareness in DHH children with functional hearing.  The 2 tests used were 4 subtests of the Phonological Awareness Test-2 (PAT-2) and the Test of Preschool Early Literacy (TOPEL).  Age range of the 108 children was 3 years 9 months to 7 years 11 months.  All of the children were in self-contained DHH classes so no mainstreamed children were in the study.  The children were assessed twice with both tests – once in the spring and once in the fall.


  • Both tests showed good psychometric properties.
  • Both tests were appropriate to use with DHH children.
  • DHH children developed phonological awareness skills in the same sequence as typically hearing children.  For the population in self-contained DHH classes the rate was much slower.
  • Direct instruction improves DHH children’s phonological awareness just as for typical hearing children.

Why is this important?   This is evidenced-based information that:

  • the PAT-2 and TOPEL are appropriate to use to measure phonological awareness of DHH children with functional hearing
  • instruction in phonological awareness is evidenced-based for DHH children.

What I wished they included?   A measure of cognitive abilities

Why?  This has a tremendous influence on phonological skills.

What test do you give to assess phonological awareness?

Thanks for reading,

Monica Faherty

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