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Lab 3: Percentile Scores

Rachel Dodds

Michigan State University


Lab 3: Percentile Scores


The purposes of this assessment are to determine the language development of Child A

and provide recommendations based on assessment scores for further evaluation. Child A is a 26

month-old female. The child was assessed using the MacArthur Communicative Development

Inventory: Words & Sentences (CDI)which assess a childs vocabulary, sentence length, and

use of words and endings as compared to other children of the same age and gender.

Data Summary



The data appearing in Tables 1 and 2 indicate Child As development in the language

domain, compared to children of the same age and gender that took the same assessment. Table 1

is a summary of vocabulary words produced, word form usage, and average sentence length.

Percentiles were used in this chart to specify that Child As results were equal to or better than a

certain percentage of childrenfemales, aged 26 monthswho have taken this assessment. The

advantage of reporting scores in the form of percentiles allows educators to interpret an

assessment score by evaluating how it compares to the scores of a childs peers . In terms of

vocabulary, Child A produced 313 of 680 words possible in the Vocabulary Checklist portion

of the assessment; these results determined that Child As score was at the 30th percentile

meaning that Child A performed the same as or better than 30 percent of children of the same

age. For the word form portion of the assessment, Child A used 6 of the 25 word forms listed. In

terms of word form, Child As score was at the 40th percentileagain, meaning that Child A

scored equal to or better than 40 percent of children in this section of the assessment. The

average sentence lengthfound by counting words in a given sentencefor Child A was 3.67

words long. This was calculated by finding the mean of the 5 word, 3 word, and 3 word

sentences. This average sentence length was at the 40th percentile for girls the same age as Child


Though some may find percentile scores that are lower than the 50th percentile to mean

that there is a developmental delay, this is not the case for Child A. The normative sampleor

the children who were assessed to compile a standardized scoring systemshows that there are

ranges of scores that indicate typical development. In order to determine this range, assessment

creators found the average score of all results for each section of the exam (except for the parts


which only provide three possible answers to a question) and used this to determine a value

called standard deviation (SD)which is a quantity that determines how scores vary and are

dispersed. Generally, the greatest number of scores are found one standard deviation above and

below the mean scorethis range area is colored green in Figure 1. Each of the childs scores in

Figure 1. Normal Bell-shaped Curve (Brunan, 2017).

Table 1, lie within one standard deviation of the mean. Child As vocabulary score of 313 is

within one standard deviation of the mean, 382.5 wordsSD equals 180.7 words, so the range of

typical development for vocabulary in 26-month old children is about 201.8 words through 563.2

words. This is also true of Child As score for word forms, which was 6the SD shows the

typical range of development for the childs age to be between 1.5 forms and 15.1 forms, with a

mean of 8.3 forms. Finally, Child As score of 3.67 words for mean sentence length also falls in

the typical range for children the childs agewhich is between 2.1 words and 9.3 words, with

the mean being 5.7 words in length. Since Child As scores are all within one standard deviation

of the mean in these parts of the assessment, it is safe to say that Child A is developing normally

in these areas and is at a level she should be at for her age.


Table 2 is a summary of the childs usage of word types and forms compared to other

children who are the same age. This table uses percentages because the assessment investigates

more broad aspects of the language domain. There were solely two interpretations of this section:

the child uses a skill or the child does not use or attempt to use a skill. The fact that there are

these two interpretations does not provide deeper information regarding how a child uses a skill

or to what extent the child has mastered the skilltherefore, percentiles cannot be used. These

are also disadvantages to using percentages when reporting assessment results. The assessment

indicates that Child A uses the past tense in language production, which 82 percent of 26-month

old girls also use. In regards to the use of future tense in language production, it was determined

that Child A uses this aspect of languagewhich 85 percent of 26 month-old girls also do. 78

percent of typical children the same age and gender as Child A are able to produce plural

nounswhich are formed by adding an -s to the end of a nounincluding Child A. The child

additionally showed use of past tenseformed by taking a verb and adding -ed to end end of a

verblanguage production that 48 percent of 26-month old girls produce, as well. The only skill

that Child A did not display use of was possessivesformed by adding -ing to the end a verb.

64 percent of females of the same age use possessives. Though, many children develop this skill

at a later age so this does not appear to be alarming.


This assessment investigated whether or not Child As language development skills were

lower than was is considered typical for children of the same age and gender. Based on the

results in Table 1 and 2 and my interpretation of the assessment scores, I find that these scores do

not warrant concern about Child As development. Child A appears to be at an age and gender-

appropriate developmental level in the language domain.



By doing this lab, I learned how to interpret standardized assessment scores more deeply.

It is essential that educators understand the variance of scores that result from assessments. I feel

that this lab helped me to become more familiar with how to complete an investigation related to

concern from parents regarding development or assessing if development is within a typical

range regardless. Most likely, I will be a part of a team of educators and experts working to

determine if a certain child should be considered for further evaluation in the future, so this was

very helpful to practice writing reports to parents and colleagues summarizing my findings. Im

very glad that I was able to have this sort of experience so that I am more prepared for what I

may encounter in my own classroom one day.



Brunan, L. (2017, January 13). [NWEA Normal, Bell-shaped Curve]. Retrieved from


Mindes, G. (2015). Assessing young children (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.


Appendix A

Child Report From CDI: Words and Sentences for Child A