Technical Examination of a Measure of Phonological Sensitivity
Mott, Michael S.
Rutherford, Angela S.
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This study describes the development and evaluation of an assessment of phonological sensitivity (PS) designed to empower teachers to identify children’s phonological and phonemic awareness levels for meaningful instruction and to aid literacy researchers in advancing current understandings of the developmental continuum of PS skills. The Leveled Assessment of Phonological Sensitivity (LAPS) is based on specific causal, reciprocal, and correlational relationships to literacy skills, including reading. The assessment contains 11 levels of item types divided in two parts synthesizing linguistic complexity and cognitive operation based on the literature: (a) phonological awareness and (b) phonemic awareness for determining a child’s level of PS skill. Technical examination of the LAPS’s reliability and validity are presented, including developmental trends of students (n = 333) in Pre-K, K, and Grades 1 and 2. Internal consistency (α = .93) and split-half reliability (Guttman coefficient = .95) were high. Content validity is discussed based on the historical body of research addressing the PS continuum in comparison with the current construct. Developmental validity, determined via ANOVA, revealed LAPS scores discriminating grade level of participants. Confirmatory factor analysis with structural equation modeling revealed single-factor structure, indicating evidence for discriminant validity across LAPS item types along a single latent variable. All 11 paths contained high correlations (across 10 item types with α = .79) between a single factor with rhyme as the exception (α = .40). Findings support LAPS use for teacher identification of students’ PS and reinforce the PS hierarchy of task difficulty set forth from the body of research that dates back to 1976.