The initial validation of a test of emergent literacy

Sophie Gruhn, Albert Weideman


In addition to a large body of evidence supporting the relevance of the home environment for literacy development, tests of cognitive-based skills are commonly employed to predict literacy acquisition. The Test of Emergent Literacy (TEL) has been designed to account for the early interaction of children with their literate environment as predictor of prospective literacy achievement at school, for which there is a scarcity of appropriate language assessments. In contrast to most conventional literacy tests, the TEL bases its construct on a communicative perspective on language. The development of the first English draft of the TEL involved the production of an assessment of emergent literacy at preschool level. The principles of responsible test design as articulated by Weideman (2014) served as a primary framework for the design and initial validation of the TEL. The evaluation of eight experts and the results of the pilot of several subtasks with 54 South African, English-medium preschool learners (aged five to six years) whose home language is not English, support the theoretical justification of the design, its high level of reliability, and the effectiveness of the instrument, besides the social requirements for tests (fairness, utility, efficiency) to which the TEL also conforms. Potential test refinements may further increase the reliability, effectiveness, and efficiency of the test.

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ISSN 2224-0012 (online); ISSN 0259-2312 (print)

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