Performance of a Receptive Language Test among Young Children in Madagascar
Weber, Ann M.
Fernald, Lia C. H.
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Language tests developed and validated in one country may lose their desired properties when translated for use in another, possibly resulting in misleading estimates of ability. Using Item Response Theory (IRT) methodology, we assess the performance of a test of receptive vocabulary, the U.S.-validated Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Third Edition (PPVT-III), when translated, adapted, and administered to children 3 to 10 years of age in Madagascar (N = 1372), in the local language (Malagasy). Though Malagasy is considered a single language, there are numerous dialects spoken in Madagascar. Our findings were that test scores were positively correlated with age and indicators of socio-economic status. However, over half (57/96) of items evidenced unexpected response variation and/or bias by local dialect spoken. We also encountered measurement error and reduced differentiation among person abilities when we used the publishers’ recommended stopping rules, largely because we lost the original item ordering by difficulty when we translated test items into Malagasy. Our results suggest that bias and testing inefficiency introduced from the translation of the PPVT can be significantly reduced with the use of methods based on IRT at both the pre-testing and analysis stages. We explore and discuss implications for cross-cultural comparisons of internationally recognized tests, such as the PPVT.