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School-based screenings are common. For example, schools regularly screen for hearing loss or vision difficulties. Screenings help parents and teachers find problems that may negatively affect learning. Unfortunately, screening of language skills is not a common practice in schools. Why? Three myths get in the way.

​Myth 1: Language screenings are time-consuming.

Truth: There are language screeners that can be given quickly and easily in the classroom.

​Myth 2: Language screenings are not reliable.

Truth: There are highly reliable language screeners for children in kindergarten and higher grades.

​Myth 3: Schools already screen for language when they screen for reading.

Truth: It is great that school’s regularly screen children’s reading skills but reading screeners (like the DIBELs) screen for written language problems. Oral language problems, which may be contributing to the reading problem or to problems in classroom participation, go undetected.

The time is right! We have quick and reliable tools to detect oral language difficulties in school children.

Screening for these difficulties is important because:

  • Language skills have a big impact on all aspects of classroom learning and
  • Most children (up to 70%!) who have Developmental Language Disorders have language difficulties that are not known to their parents or pediatrician.

When schools conduct language screenings, they will find children with developmental language disorder (DLD) (and other language problems). This is the first critical step toward supporting their success in school.

Language Screeners

This is an open source document that contains a list of measures with evidence to support their use as language screeners. These measures are intended for screening purposes only so those who score below your chosen (or evidence-based pre-determined) cut-point should be assessed further to determine the presence of language impairment.


Adlof, S. M., Scoggins, J., Brazendale, A., Babb, S., & Petscher, Y. (2017). Identifying Children at Risk for Language Impairment or Dyslexia With Group-Administered Measures. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 60(12), 3507-3522.

Wittke, K., & Spaulding, T. J. (2018). Which Preschool Children With Specific Language Impairment Receive Language Intervention?. Language, speech, and hearing services in schools, 49(1), 59-71.

Tomblin, J. B., Records, N. L., Buckwalter, P., Zhang, X., Smith, E., & O’Brien, M. (1997). Prevalence of specific language impairment in kindergarten children. Journal of speech, language, and hearing research, 40(6), 1245-1260.

Weiler, B., Schuele, C. M., Feldman, J. I., & Krimm, H. (2018). A Multiyear Population-Based Study of Kindergarten Language Screening Failure Rates Using the Rice Wexler Test of Early Grammatical Impairment. Language, speech, and hearing services in schools, 49(2), 248-259.