Language Proficiency Profile-2

The Language Proficiency Profile-2 (LPP-2; Bebko & McKinnon, 1993) is a ”multiple-choice rating scale to be completed by a person familiar with the child’s language skills” (Bebko et al., 2003, 439). The goal of the LPP-2 is to evaluate the overall linguistic and communicative skills of deaf children, independent of any specific language or modality. Looking at the diverse population of deaf children, one can find the use of different forms of languages and modalities, i.e. American Sign Language (ASL), Signed English, Pidgin Signed English, or spoken English. The primary goal of the LPP-2 is to “evaluate the child’s overall developing language skills, independent of a specific modality of expression or specific standard language”(Bebko et al., 2003, 439). Early, prelinguistic skills are evaluated by a recent extension of the LPP, the LPP-Non Verbal (NV). The LPP-NP is intended for children who are beginning to communicate, but are not yet at the single word level, and for children who may be older, with a language delay or impairment. It is structured in a manner that is comparable to the LPP-2, and can be used together with the LPP-2 to monitor a child's ongoing language acquisition. (J. Bebko, personal communication, September 17, 2004).

The LPP-2 was developed based on the Kendall Communicative Proficiency Scale (KCPS; Francis et al., 1980). It (as well the KCPS) is derived from Bloom and Lahey’s (1978) model on language development. The LPP-2 examines critical features or markers within five domains of language development. These markers were reconstructed into simple questions that could be answered by individuals (i.e. parents and teachers) who know the child’s language skills (see table). These five dimensions contribute to the scale. Revisions from earlier versions of the LPP-2 (i.e. LPP-1 and LPP-R) were included based on the feedback from parents, teachers, and language experts who completed the LPP-2 (for more details see Bebko & McKinnon, 1998).

The five categories of the LPP-2 are: (1) Form, (2) Use, (3) Content, (4) Reference, and (5) Cohesion. (1) Form refers to the structure of a language: at the early level the child is able to produce single words/signs, two word/signs utterances, and in later development s/he is able to communicate in short narratives. (2) Use refers to various functions of a language, i.e. does the child use language to interact, to gain attention of others, to describe objects etc.? (3) Content refers to what sort of objects, actions, and relationships are reflected in the child’s communication, e.g. information about existence or disappearance, rejection, denial, causality and so forth. (4) Reference refers to the child’s capacity to refer to information beyond the immediate context, i.e. the child’s ability to use language freed from the present. (5) Cohesion refers to the communicative function that deals with how effectively the child links his/her communication to the listener and the message that precedes and follows the utterances, e.g. control of syntax and to take into account the perspective, knowledge, and opinion of the conversational partner (for more details of the five categories see Bebko & McKinnon, 1998).

Samples of early and late items from each dimension of the LPP-2 (from Bebko & McKinnon, 1993, cited in Bebko et al., 2003)

LPP-2 Dimension

Sample early items

Sample later items


Does the child comment on his/her own actions or those actions which affect him/her directly

Does the child communicate about a wide range of experiences and any ideas within his/her intellectual ability?


Does the child put words/signs together? (Example: ”Daddy book” or ”Book fall”)

Does the child tell stories or narratives? (Those stories must be understood without questioning except for specific details)


Does the child describe people and objects in terms of both temporary (Example: emotional state) and permanent (Example: size or color) characteristics?

Does the child use language as a tool for thinking? (Example: to work through math problems or daily concerns such as planning what to say to someone).


Does the child participate in a conversation by paying attention to and referring to the same object as the listener?

Does the child participate in and follow, without difficulty, a one-on-one conversation as it moves from topic to topic?


Does the child try to refer to things that are not present at the time? (The child may have some difficulty doing this)

Does the child give enough background information to help any listener understand a message that has a lot of new information?

The LPP-1 was tested with a group of 41 deaf children (5-15 years old) who were enrolled in a Total Communication program (i.e. they used sign, speech, gesture, and other forms of communication) and with hearing children (5-8 years old). The LPP-R was tested with orally trained deaf students (6-14 years old) and hearing children (2-6 years old). The investigation of the psychometric properties indicated good construct validity: the scores of the deaf population on the LPP correlated significantly with age and total years of language experience since identification of deafness (Bebko & McKinnon, 1998).

Even though the basic structure of the earlier versions was maintained in the LPP-2, construct validity was specifically investigated. Each item was printed separately on a card and presented to three psycholinguists/language pathologists, asking them to sort the items into developmental order within each subscale. There was a high agreement between the raters’ ordering and the original ordering (84% across all subscales). This procedure indicated good construct validity.

Good concurrent validity for the LPP-2 ”has been found with the Expressive Communication subscale of the Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scales (Sparrow et al., 1984; r = .831) for young hearing children and the Bankson Language Screening Test (Bankson, 1977; r = .796) with older, oral deaf children” (Bebko et al., 2003, 440).

In further studies, the sensitivity of language change and concurrent validity for the LPP-2 were explored (Bebko et al., 2003).

In one of the studies, the developmental changes in language scores on the LPP-2 with deaf children from preschool through middle school ages were investigated. The LPP-2 was administered to 104 hearing Canadians, 35 deaf Canadians, and 28 deaf Americans. The age of the deaf children ranged from 3-14 years. The deaf children were mostly from hearing families. The LPP-2 was completed independently by teachers and parents. The hearing children were only rated by the parents. For each items on the LPP-2, a score of ”2” (the child is past that skill level or currently has the skill), ”1” (the skill is currently emerging), or ”0” (the child does not possess the skill) is assigned. The total score of LPP-2 is 112. The findings indicate that the hearing children achieve near-maximum LPP-2 scores earlier that the deaf children (hearing children: age 4; deaf children: age 7). The results from the deaf children revealed an increase of the LPP-2 scores with age. An interesting finding was how the parents scored as compared to the teachers: the parents tended to score their children higher than the teachers.

Two global observation (caution, normally the scores of deaf and hearing children should not be compared): (1) the difference in age when hearing vs. deaf children reach near-maximum scores and (2) there is more variability in the scores of the younger deaf children than in the scores of the younger hearing children.

Concluding from the findings of all studies undertaken with the LPP-2, it supports the future use of the LPP-2 as a useful assessment measure to assess the language skills in deaf children. Besides, the results ”reinforce the importance of looking at all modalities of communication when assessing language skills in children with a hearing loss” (Bebko et al., 2003, 449). To accomplish that, the LPP-2 looks more at semantic and pragmatic features that are common across languages. The overall scores as well the subscales scores of the LPP-2 provide a robust developmental measure. The completion of the LPP-2 does not take longer than 15 minutes. The LPP-2 has demonstrated good concurrent validity with language measures, used with deaf and hearing children. The authors will keep working on the LPP-2.

Summarized by Tobias Haug (2004).

For more information regarding this test, please contact  James Bebko at York University, Canada.