Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Nickola W. Nelson

Second Advisor

Mrs. Shirley Sparks

Third Advisor

Dr. Michael Clark

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Michael Payne

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The purpose of this study was to assess the concurrent validity and interscorer reliability of a specific diagnostic tool of language assessment which is designed to be nonbiased for dialectally different children. Black English Sentence Scoring (BESS; Nelson, 1983), which is based on Lee's (1974) Developmental Sentence Scoring (DSS), is a system for analyzing spontaneous language samples that gives cred it for the normally developing features of Black English dialect. The sample consisted of 17 children between three and seven years who were residing in Michigan in communities where Black English was spoken frequently. All were identified as having language disorders by their speech-language pathologists. The investigator administered two criterion tests, Screening Kit of Language Development (SKOLD) and Structured Photographic Expressive Language Test (SPELT) to each child and gathered spontaneous language samples, which were transcribed and analyzed using BESS/DSS. The investigator and faculty advisor each scored the language samples as a means of establishing interscorer reliability. BESS was found to correlate with SPELT and SKOLD and interscorer reliability was found to be high.