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(OWLS™) Oral and Written Language Scales™

by Elizabeth Carrow-Woolfolk, PhD

Sorry - this product is no longer available

(OWLS™) Oral and Written Language Scales™

by Elizabeth Carrow-Woolfolk, PhD
Benefits Provides a simple means of assessing oral and written language skills across a wide age range
Ages 3 to 21 years for Listening Comprehension and Oral Expression Scales; 5 to 21 for Written Expression Scale
Admin time 5-15 minutes for LC Scale;10-25 minutes for OE Scale;15-30 minutes for WE Scale
Format Based on a nationally representative sample of 1,795
Scores Scale scores provided as age-based standard scores, test-age equivalents, percentile ranks, stanines, and normal curve equivalents Oral Composite and Overall Language Composite.
Publish Date 1996
Qualifications Level C required.
About Qualification Levels
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About This Product

Picture of (OWLS™) Oral and Written Language Scales™

Oral and Written Language Scales™, Second Edition (OWLS™-II) Now Available! View OWLS-II page



Unlike other language assessments, the OWLS offers a comprehensive sampling of language tasks over a wide age range. These tasks address vocabulary, grammar, pragmatic structures, and higher order (supralinguistic) thinking, providing a clear picture of an individual’s ability to understand and produce connected language, both spoken and written.

The OWLS includes a Listening Comprehension Scaleand an Oral Expression Scale, which are packaged together, and a Written Expression Scale, which is provided separately. This packaging reflects the fact that oral and written language skills are often assessed independently. All OWLS scales are normed on the same population.

Listening Comprehension and Oral Expression Scales

Together these two scales assess receptive and expressive language in 3- through 21-year-olds. Individually administered, both are quick and easy to use. Basals and ceilings insure that examinees are administered only items that most closely approximate their ability levels. Neither scale requires reading on the examinee’s part, and all items are presented with attractive artwork that’s balanced in terms of race, gender, and physical differences.  

The Listening Comprehension Scale uses a convenient easel to measure receptive language. The examiner reads a stimulus word printed on one side of the easel, and the student responds by indicating one of four pictures on the other side of the easel. Correct responses are printed on the examiner’s side of the easel and on the Record Form—permitting easy, on-the-spot scoring. Administration time is just 5 to 15 minutes.    

The Oral Expression Scale, with its own handy easel, measures expressive language, requiring the examinee to answer questions, finish sentences, and generate sentences in response to visual and oral stimuli. To simplify scoring, common responses (both correct and incorrect) and scoring criteria are printed on the Record Form. It takes just 10 to 25 minutes to administer this scale.

Written Expression Scale

The Written Expression Scale offers an authentic assessment of written language skills in children, teens, and young adults. Its wide age range allows you to follow the student’s writing development, from age 5 through age 21. Administered to individuals or groups, the scale measures the following writing skills:

  • Conventions 

(spelling, punctuation/capitalization, letter formation, conventional structures)

  • Linguistics

(vocabulary, grammatical morphemes, and sentence structure)

  • Content

(meaningful content, details, relevance, coherence, supporting ideas, word choice, unity)

The examiner presents oral, written, and pictorial prompts, and examinees write their answers in a Response Booklet. Items involve both structured and open-ended tasks typical of writing activities students might experience in the classroom. Because examinees respond to a set of about 15 items, you are sure to obtain representative writing samples. Administration time is 15 to 30 minutes.   

The examiner’s Record Form includes brief scoring rules for easy reference, while the Manual presents detailed guidelines with extensive scoring examples. Interpretation of an individual’s performance is simple and straightforward. Descriptive analysis tables and convenient worksheets can be used to create a qualitative summary of student writing, with strengths and weaknesses noted.

OWLS Scores Provided in Several Useful Formats

All three scales provide age-based standard scores, test-age equivalents, percentile ranks, stanines, and normal curve equivalents. You can use standard scores from the Listening Comprehension and Oral Expression Scales to derive an Oral Composite. Similarly, you can combine age-based standard scores from all three scales to obtain an overall Language Composite.  

All OWLS scales are normed on a nationally representative sample of 1,795 subjects, from 3 through 21 years of age. The sample is stratified within age groups according to gender, race/ethnicity, geographic region, and socioeconomic status (mother’s education level).

Optional Computer Scoring and Interpretation

To make scoring particularly convenient, the OWLS offers time-saving ASSIST software, which is compatible with both Macintosh and Windows operating systems. Provided on CD-ROM, this program gives you:

  • Raw score to scale score conversions
  • All composite scores
  • Graphic score profiles
  • High-level item analysis
  • Scale score comparisons
  • Helpful narrative interpretations
  • Individualized intervention strategies and exercises

ASSIST software provides an extremely useful summary of test results.

Clinical and School Applications

Because its three scales measure a variety of oral and written language structures, cover a wide age range, and are co-normed, the OWLS is highly useful in both clinical and school settings. Speech-language pathologists, school psychologists, educational diagnosticians, and other professionals choose the OWLS for the following purposes:

  • Identification

Age-based norms help you identify students with learning disabilities, language disorders, and other related difficulties in accordance with IDEA requirements. OWLS scores can be directly compared to global scores on cognitive batteries, such as the Kaufman or Wechsler scales.

  • Intervention

Because it focuses on language tasks similar to those encountered in school, an OWLS assessment can be the first step in addressing potential academic difficulties.

  • Progress Monitoring 

The OWLS can provide a record of growth from preschool through age 21.

  • Research

Given its wide age range, the OWLS lets you gather longitudinal data using the same test content. In addition, its co-normed scales permit comparative studies of various language impairments.

Comprehensive, easy to administer, and directly linked to classroom instruction, the OWLS gives speech-language pathologists the information they need to identify and remediate oral and written language problems.

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