Purpose: Diagnostic decision making is influenced by the attributes of assessments. In order to propose time-efficient protocols for screening children's speech, this study aimed to determine whether eliciting imitated responses and analyzing productions in different word positions resulted in different levels of consonant accuracy.
Method: Participants were 267 English-speaking preschool-age children in the Sound Start Study whose parents were concerned about their speech. They were assessed using the International Speech Screener: Research Version (ISS; McLeod, 2013 ) using either imitated or spontaneous elicitation. Productions were compared with an established diagnostic assessment of speech accuracy (Diagnostic Evaluation of Articulation and Phonology; Dodd, Hua, Crosbie, Holm, & Ozanne, 2002 ).
Results: Participants' performance on the ISS was significantly correlated with performance on the Diagnostic Evaluation of Articulation and Phonology. Eliciting imitated productions on the ISS ( M = 2:18 min, SD = 0:59 min) took significantly less time than spontaneous productions ( M = 6:32 min, SD = 2:34 min). There was no significant difference in accuracy of imitated versus spontaneous productions in word-initial position; however, consonants were significantly less accurate in spontaneous than imitated productions in other word positions. Overall, participants had significantly lower consonant accuracy in word-initial position than within-word or word-final positions. Examination of the influence of word position on test discrimination, using receiver operating characteristic analyses, revealed acceptable test discrimination for percentage of consonants correct across word positions.
Conclusion: This research supports using imitated elicitation and analysis of percentage of consonants correct in word-initial position as a time-efficient procedure when screening the speech of English-speaking preschool children.