CASL Technical Information

Publication Data

Instrument name/abbreviation

Comprehensive Assessment of Spoken Language (CASL™)


Elizabeth Carrow-Woolfolk


Pearson Assessments, Bloomington, MN

Copyright date


Product Description

Brief description

CASL is an individually administered, research-based, theory-driven, in-depth oral language assessment for children and young adults aged 3 through 21. The CASL battery of 15 tests measures comprehension, expression, and retrieval in four language categories:

Lexical/Semantic—assesses knowledge and use of words and word combinations Syntactic-assesses knowledge and use of grammar

Supralinguistic—measures comprehension of complex language in which meaning is not directly available from lexical or grammatical information

Pragmatic—measures awareness of appropriate language in a situational context and ability to modify this language as necessary

The CASL battery is divided into Core and Supplementary tests. The Core tests measure the most representative aspects of each language category for each of six age bands. Examinees take three, four, or five Core tests depending on age. The Supplementary tests provide additional diagnostic information to yield data for both quantitative (profile) and qualitative (clinical) analyses.


Primary use/purpose

To assist speech/language pathologists, psychologists, educational diagnosticians, early childhood specialists, and other professionals in measuring oral language knowledge and processing skills in preschoolers through young adults. CASL’s age-based norms can be used in assessments to identify language impairments to meet the requirements of P.L. 94–142 (now incorporated into IDEA, reauthorized as P.L. 105–17). CASL can assist in understanding the relationship between an individual’s ability scores and any delays or disorders in language. By comparing performance on the developmentally appropriate CASL tests, clinicians can form hypotheses about an examinee’s language processing abilities or deficits and then generate intervention plans. CASL can also provide a record of growth in language skills across a broad time span.


Age range covered

3 years to 21 years


Administration time

Testing time for the CASL depends on which tests form the Core battery (different for each age band) and on how many Supplementary tests the examiner elects to give. Generally, the Core battery takes about 20–30 minutes for examinees aged 3 through 5, and about 45 minutes for older examinees.


Individual vs. group

Individually administered only


User qualifications

Policy I; Policy II, Level B





The language structure categories of Lexical/Semantic, Syntactic, Supralinguistic, and Pragmatic in receptive and expressive format


Test names

Lexical/Semantic Tests: Comprehension of Basic Concepts Antonyms Synonyms Sentence Completion Idiomatic Language
Syntactic Tests
: Syntax Construction Paragraph Comprehension of Syntax Grammatical Morphemes Sentence Comprehension of Syntax Grammaticality Judgment
Supralinguistic Tests Nonliteral Language Meaning from Context Inference Ambiguous Sentences
Pragmatic Test
Pragmatic Judgment


Composite name

Core Composite (global measure derived from the age-appropriate Core tests)
Processing Index (measure of receptive or expressive skills)
Category Index (measure of skills in three language categories-Lexical/Semantic, Syntactic, Supralinguistic)



CASL Record Form 1 (Ages 3 to 6)
CASL Record Form 2 (Ages 7 to 21)


Materials included in the kit

Three self-standing Test Books
Record Form 1 (pkg. of 12)
Record Form 2 (pkg. of 12)
Norms Book
CASL carry bag


Item Information


Item types

20 multiple-choice Sentence Comprehension items, where the examinee reads a sentence with a missing word and, using the context of the sentence, chooses the word that would best complete the sentence.

20 multiple-choice Vocabulary items, where the examinee chooses the word or group of words that means the same as the purple or blue word in a phrase or sentence.


Response format

Multiple-choice: Examinees put an "x" in front of their choice, out of 4 or 5 options.


Item scoring



Item Information—Description of Lexical/Semantic Tests


Skill Measured


Item Example

Comprehension of Basic Concepts

Comprehension of perceptual & conceptual words

Examiner reads a sentence aloud while examinee looks at four pictures. Examinee points to the picture or part of the picture that represents the correct response. (Receptive)

Point to the little cat.


Word retrieval & knowledge of opposites.

Examiner says a stimulus word. Examinee must respond orally with a single word that means the opposite of the stimulus word. (Retrieval and Expressive)

Tell me the opposite of yes. Either yes or _____.


Recognition of two words that have the same meaning.

Examiner says a stimulus word and four synonym options, then repeats the stimulus word. The examinee chooses the option that means the same as the stimulus. (Receptive)

The first word is glad. The four words to choose from are hurt, hungry, sleepy, happy. Which word means the same as glad?

Sentence Completion

Word retrieval given the context of a spoken sentence.

Examiner reads the stimulus sentence, which is missing the last word. The examinee must respond with a single word that meaningfully completes the sentence. (Retrieval and Expressive)

In order to start the car, Dad must turn the _____.

Idiomatic Language

Oral expression of common idioms.

Examiner reads the stimulus idiom, which is missing its final part. The examinee must complete the phrase with an acceptable form of the idiom. (Expressive)

Finish what I say: After Kim broke the plate, Mother said, "Don’t cry over spilled _____."

Item Information—Description of Syntactic Tests


Skill Measured


Item Example

Syntax Construction

Grammatically correct oral expression of phrases & sentences

Examiner reads the stimulus item while the examinee looks at a picture. The examinee must respond with a word, phrase, or sentence that is grammatically and semantically appropriate. (Expressive)

Here the boy is standing (examiner points to the standing boy). Here (examiner points to the sitting boy) the boy is _____.

Comprehension of Syntax

Comprehension of syntactic structures.

Examiner reads a stimulus paragraph twice, then reads a series of items relating to the paragraph while the examinee looks at a set of pictures for each item. The examinee must respond by pointing to or giving the number of the correct response. (Receptive)

This story is about a family of four. Besides the mom and the dad, there are two children, a boy and a girl. The boy’s name is Rick, while the girl’s name is Anna. Examiner repeats the story and turns the Test Book page so the examinee can see the pictures of the family. Which one is Anna?

Grammatical Morphemes

Knowledge & expression of grammatical analogies.

The examiner reads one pair of words or phrases that demonstrates an analogy, then reads the first word or phrase of a second pair. The examinee must complete the analogy of the second pair. (Expressive)

Skate is to skated, as talk is to _____.

Sentence Comprehension of Syntax

Given syntactically different sentences, recognition of same or different meanings.

For each item, examiner reads two pairs of stimulus sentences, one pair at a time. The examinee must determine whether both sentences in each pair mean the same thing. (Receptive)

The boy watched TV after supper. After he had watched TV, the boy ate supper. Do these two things mean the same? Tell me "yes" or "no."

Grammaticality Judgment

Judgment of and ability to correct sentence grammar.

Examiner reads a stimulus sentence that is grammatically either correct or incorrect. The examinee must judge the correctness of the sentence and, if it is incorrect, must correct it by changing only one word. (Expressive)

The boy are happy. Does that sound right? If the examinee responds correctly with "no," examiner says: Now make it sound right. Change only one word.

Item Information—Description of Supralinguistic Tests

CASL Test Skill Measured Description Item Example

Nonliteral Language

Understanding of spoken messages independent of literal interpretation.

Examiner reads the stimulus item and the accompanying question. The examinee must answer by explaining the nonliteral meaning of the item. (Primarily Comprehension with Expression)

When 5-year-old Jimmy started pulling his sister’s hair, Dad said, "Jim, you’re not a puppy anymore." What did he mean?

Meaning from Context

Derivation of the meaning of words from their linguistic context.

Each item contains a very uncommon word. The examiner reads the item and the examinee must explain the meaning of the uncommon word by using context clues. (Primarily Comprehension with Expression)

As they paraded slowly through the extremely narrow streets, the band members were so serried that they could hardly play their instruments next to each other. Explain what serried means.


Use of world knowledge to derive meaning from inferences.

Examiner describes a situation in which part of the information is omitted, then asks an accompanying question. The examinee must answer the question using world knowledge to infer the missing information. (Receptive and Expressive)

Before Jim left for work, he put on a heavy woolen coat. What was the weather like?

Ambiguous Sentences

Comprehension of words, phrases, and sentences that have more than one meaning.

Examiner reads the stimulus item and examinee must respond with two possible meanings for the item. (Primarily Comprehension with Expression)

It is light. Tell me two different meanings for this sentence.

Item Information—Description of Pragmatic Test

CASL Test Skill Measured Description Item Example

Pragmatic Judgment

Knowledge & use of appropriate language.

Examiner reads a situation that represents some aspect of everyday life that requires communication or a pragmatic judgment on the part of the examinee. The examinee responds with the appropriate thing to say or do in the situation. (Primarily Expression with Comprehension)

Suppose the telephone rings. You pick it up. What do you say?

Derived Scores Available

Scoring options Hand scoring and scoring ASSIST™

Derived scores available

Tests: Age-based standard scores (M = 100, SD = 15), percentiles, NCEs, stanines, test-age equivalents
Age-based standard scores, percentiles, NCEs, stanines, test-age equivalents 
Age-based standard scores, percentiles, NCEs, stanines, test-age equivalents

Norm groups available


Interpretive features


Computerized scoring


Technical Information—Standardization

Scoring options

Hand scoring and scoring ASSIST™


See below. A total of 2,750 examinees aged 3 through 21 were tested at 166 sites nationwide. The full sample was used for item analysis. A representative sample of 1,700 subjects was used for developing the normative scores.Because of the rapid changes in language at ages 3 and 4, samples of 6-month age intervals were specified for these early years. For the middle ages, whole-year intervals were used. At the upper ages, multi-year age intervals were selected for the testing plan.




2,750 (1,700 used for developing norms)Based on U.S. census data in the year 1994 (from machine-readable data file).





Females: 50.6% (U.S. 50.8%)
Males: 49.4% (U.S. 49.2%)


African American: 15.9% (U.S.16.0%)
Hispanic: 14.6% (U.S. 13.1%)
White: 65.6% (U.S. 67.1%)
Other: 3.8% (U.S. 3.8%)

Geographic region

Northeast: 18.8% (U.S. 19.0%)
North Central: 25.1% (U.S. 24.4%)
South: 34.2% (U.S. 33.8%)
West: 21.9% (U.S. 22.9%)

SES/parent education

Mother’s education level was used to indicate socioeconomic status.

Grade 11 or less: 15.5% (U.S. 17.2%)
High School Graduate: 35.9% (U.S. 36.5%)
1 to 3 Years of College or Technical School: 28.2% (U.S. 27.9%)
4 or More Years of College: 20.4% (U.S. 18.4%)

Community size


Special populations included

Clinical validity studies were done on the following populations. Each clinical case was matched with a case from the standardization sample on the following variables: age, sex, race/ethnicity, and SES.

Speech Impairment: 50 examinees
Language Delay: 50 examinees
Language Impairment: 42 examinees
Mental Retardation: 44 examinees
Learning Disability (Reading): 80 examinees
Learning Disability (Undifferentiated): 42 examinees
Emotional Disturbance: 31 examinees
Hearing Impairment: 27 examinees


Internal consistency

The internal reliabilities of the 15 CASL tests for the age groups at which each test is administered are generally high, ranging from .64 to .94, with most being in the .80s and .90s. Reliability was one of the criteria used to select Core and Supplementary tests for each age band. Core tests for specific age bands generally have reliabilities in the .80s and .90s. (See Chapter 8 in manual for complete reporting of all reliabilities.) All Core Composite reliabilities are in the .90s, ranging from .92 for the youngest examinees to .96 for the older examinees. The reliabilities for the Indexes are as follows:

Lexical/Semantic Index: .92 to .95
Syntactic Index: .92 to .96
Supralinguistic Index: .90 to .95
Receptive Index: .85 to .90
Expressive Index: .95 to .96

Test - Retest

Test-retest reliability coefficients for the individual tests range from .65 to .95
Core Composites from .92 to .93
Indexes from .88 to .96.



The intercorrelation coefficients among CASL tests range from .30 to .79, low enough to support the interpretation that each test is measuring something unique but high enough to support their combination to produce the Core Composite and Index scores. (See Chapter 8 in manual for complete reporting of intercorrelation coefficients.)

Criterion-related validity

Correlations with other measures of language. The CASL was correlated with the following:

  • TACL-R (35 examinees aged 5:0 to 5:11)
  • OWLS™ LC and OE (50 examinees aged 7:10 to 10:11)
  • PPVT™-III (45 examinees aged 7:1 to 10:11)
  • EVT™ (45 examinees aged 7:1 to 10:11)

(See Chapter 8 in manual for complete reporting of these correlations.)

Correlations with measures of cognitive ability. The CASL was correlated with the following:

  • K-BIT™ (52 examinees aged 14:0 to 17:9)

(See Chapter 8 in manual for complete reporting of these correlations.)


Developmental progression of scores, intercorrelations of tests, and factor structures of the Indexes show construct validity. (See Chapter 8 in manual for construct validity data.)

Clinical sample

Differences between means of clinical and control group in Core Composite scores in the following areas:

  • Speech Impairment: 1.5
  • Language Delay: 12.4*
  • Language Impairment: 15.6*
  • Mental Retardation: 32.2*
  • Learning Disability (Reading): 9.9* (ages 8–11); 14.5* (ages 12–18)
  • Learning Disability (Undifferentiated): 20.3*
  • Emotional Disturbance: 9.9*
  • Hearing Impairment: 26.2
  • * = significant at .001 level


Developmental History

Three pilot studies: 1992–1994
National tryout: 1995–1996
National standardization: 1996–1997
(See Chapter 7 in manual for complete development information.)

Special features

In-depth analysis of oral language skills. Ease and efficiency of administration and scoring

    Multiple scoring options
    Rich source of qualitative information
    Solid technical properties

Federal mandates met

CASL’s age-based norms can be used in assessments to identify language impairments to meet the requirements of P.L. 94–142 (now incorporated into IDEA, reauthorized as P.L. 105–17). CASL can assist in understanding the relationship between an individual’s ability scores and any delays or disorders in language.

Adaptation of special needs

CASL tests require no reading or writing on the part of the examinee. Because CASL is an oral test, all tests except three that are totally art-dependent (Comprehension of Basic Concepts, Syntax Construction, and Paragraph Comprehension) can be given to visually-impaired examinees. Although hearing-impaired examinees were part of the standardization sample, they were tested using the means of amplification routinely used in the classroom. The norms are not valid for American Sign Language.

Sensitivity to other cultures

Independent consultants representing the perspectives of African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans, and women reviewed the content and artwork of CASL during development, and modifications were made following these reviews. All items in the CASL are presented with attractive artwork that is balanced for racial and gender representations and includes persons with physical differences.


Training options available

ASHA-sponsored CEU presentations available, call Lisa Dunham at 800.328.2560 for more information.