Measurement Invariance for Language and Literacy in Fundamentally Different Groups

Measurement Invariance for Language and Literacy in Fundamentally Different Groups

First Author: Lee Branum-Martin -- Georgia State University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Mi-Young Webb; Amy Lederberg; Brenda Schick; Carol Connor; Susan Easterbrooks; Shirin Antia
Keywords: Methodology, Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Bilingualism, Language, Literacy
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: A cornerstone of language and literacy research is construct measurement in groups which differ in interesting ways, such as when children speak different languages or differ in some crucial ability—but not everyone can take the same tasks. Fitting measurement models when not all students take the same tests is tricky if not impossible in some software programs. The current presentation illustrates multiple group confirmatory factor analysis for language and literacy tasks among children who use sign language, spoken language, or both during communication.
Method: Four factors (reading, language comprehension, phonological awareness, and fingerspelling) were measured using a battery of 13 tests in a sample of 334 children in kindergarten to second grade. Tests were only administered in the communication mode appropriate to the child (sign, spoken, or both).
Results: The four-factor model fit reasonably well in all three groups, with only minor differences in measurement properties. The most problematic measurement differences were in the language factor, with some loading/scaling differences as well as some intercept bias.
Conclusion: The results suggest a highly similar structure, with minor bias on some measures. At the construct level, it seems that children with hearing loss use their language and literacy skills in highly similar ways, with sign language serving as an indicator of language ability, much like vocabulary, and fingerspelling being highly related to literacy ability. The results suggest structural differences between groups, such as alternative routes based on language learning, in the relation of language abilities to literacy performance.