Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Communication Sciences and Disorders

First Advisor

Lennette J. Ivy

Relational Format



In the past, standardized articulation tests administered by speech-language pathologists (SLPs) have had tendencies to be biased against speakers of a dialect with characteristics that differ from Mainstream American English (MAE). Using these MAE norm referenced tests can cause several problems, including over diagnosing African American (AA) children with impaired speech and language. The purpose of this study is to document the performance of four-year-old African American English (AAE) speakers for their use of age appropriate phonemes regardless of dialect, and whether the presence of AAE affects participants' scores on the following articulation tests: the Arizona Articulation Proficiency Scale-Third Edition (Arizona-3) and the Photo Articulation Test-Third Edition (PAT-3). The current study included 21 four-year-old AA participants enrolled at Learner's Playhouse Preschool in Oxford, Mississippi. Part I of the Diagnostic Evaluation of Language Variation- Screening Test (DELV-ST) was used to identify the participants as speakers of the AAE dialect, and the Arizona-3 and PAT-3 were administered to compare the results to those found in Lafayette County, Mississippi almost 25 years ago by Cole and Taylor (1990), as well as Washington and Craig (1992) in Michigan. The findings corresponded with Cole and Taylor's results, indicating that less AA children score below average when the Arizona-3 and PAT-3 articulation tests are re-scored using a new dialect sensitive scoring key, taking AAE dialectal characterisitics into consideration. This information resonates the importance that those working with AA children in educational or therapy settings understand the fundamental features of AAE to ensure these children are evaluated without test or clinician bias.

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