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Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals - Fifth Edition (CELF-5)
Please visit this website for more information about the instrument: Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals - Fifth Edition.
Supplemental: Cerebral Palsy (CP), Epilepsy, Mitochondrial Disease (Mito), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Neuromuscular Disease (NMD), and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Short Description of Instrument
The Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals® - Fifth Edition (CELF-5), published in 2013, consists of 16 stand-alone tests. Total administration time ranges from 30-45 minutes, depending on the age of the child and the specific combination of stand-alone tests that are given. CELF-5 has been developed to enable examiners to use group of items independently of the others. Each group of items that make up CELF-5 (such as Linguistic Concepts, Semantic Relationships, and Understanding Spoken Paragraphs) is referred to as a test. The CELF-4 subtests included in the CELF-5 battery were expanded in scope, with easier and harder items added to enhance the range of developmental skills more effectively.
The linguistic concepts and directional concepts are now separated into two different tests. The Linguistic Concepts test is for ages 5-8 and the Following Directions test is for ages 5-21. There are five categories of scoring for the tests, including: Scaled Score, Standard Score (Composite), Test-Age Equivalent, Criterion Cut Score, and Growth Scale Value. CELF-5 maintains standardized test scores and composite scores (Core Language and Index scores). Growth Scale Values have been added to help measure progress over time. In previous versions of CELF, each group of test items assessing a specific language skill was called a subtest.
There are also several content scores, including Expressive Language, Receptive Language, Language Content, and Language Structure scores that are derived from various stand-alone test combinations. The assessment can be tailored to the clinical or research question, and not all subtests need to be administered to preserve the technical properties of the index scores.
Comments/Special Instructions
Procedures: Examiners should have training in administration, scoring, and interpretation of clinical instruments.
Scoring and Psychometric Properties
Scoring: Both manual and Q- global®, web-based scoring available.
The CELF-5 has 16 age-specific subtests 12 of which combine to create the following Scores (Coret & McCrimmon, 2015):
Core Language Score (CLS): Measures overall language performance
Receptive Language Index (RLI): Measures listening and auditory comprehension skills
Expressive Language Index (ELI): Measures expressive language skills
Language Content Index (LCI): Measures semantic development
Language Structure Index (LSI): Measures the ability to interpret and produce sentence structures
Language Memory Index (LMI): Measures memory for language tasks
Items, on all tests, are scored as either 0 (incorrect) or 1 (correct), except for Formulated Sentences (0-, 1-, or 2-point basis) and Recalling Sentences (0-, 1-, 2-, or3-point basis). (Wiig et al., 2013b)
Permissible Values: The CELF-5 provides standardized scores for Core Language, Receptive Language, Expressive Language, Language Content, and Language Memory. The standard score for the Core Language Score and Index Scores are based on a mean of 100 with a standard deviation of 15.
Psychometric Properties: See Coret & McCrimmon, 2015 and Denman et al., 2017, Table 9 for psychometric data.
The CELF-4 is a recommended supplemental measure. More research is warranted regarding this CELF-5. There is limited literature on which to make a strong recommendation.
Strengths: The CELF-5 is standardized on a large and representative population and can be used within educational, clinical, and research. The CELF-5 has improved administration and scoring procedures, revised content and scope, and new processes for evaluating written language and pragmatics. The assessment process also allows for flexible and efficient use of individual and groups of subtests. (Coret & McCrimmon, 2015)
Weaknesses: Limitations include low test stability despite having reliability indicators in the acceptable to excellent range. There is additional cost to obtain Q-global scoring software web-based scores and reports. The pragmatic subtests emphasize North American sociocultural behaviors and may have issues with use in other cultures. (Coret & McCrimmon, 2015)
Key References:
Wiig EH, Semel E, Secord WA. Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals® - Fifth Edition (CELF®-5) [Internet]. San Antonio, TX: Pearson Clinical Inc. 2013. Retrieved 23Jun2016. Available from:
Semel W, Wiig E, Secord W. Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (Fourth ed.). Pearson Assessments: San Antonio, TX; 2003.
Wiig E, Secord W, Semel W. Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (Spanish ed.). Pearson Assessments: San Antonio, TX; 2005.
Coret MC & McCrimmon AW. Test Review: Wiig EH, Semel E, Secord WA. (2013). Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals-Fifth Edition (CELF-5). Bloomington, MN: NCS Pearson. J Psychoeduc Assess. 2015; 33(5):495-500.
Additional References:
Denman D, Speyer R, Munro N, Pearce WM, Chen YW, Cordier R. Psychometric Properties of Language Assessments for Children Aged 4-12 Years: A Systematic Review. Front Psychol. 2017 Sep 7;8:1515.
Plante E & Vance R. Selection of preschool language tests: A data-based approach. Lang Speech Hear Serv Sch. 1994 Jan;25(1):15-24.
Paul R. Language disorders from infancy through adolescence (3rd ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier, 2007.
Schellingerhout JM, Heymans MW, Verhagen AP, de Vet HC, Koes BW, Terwee CB. Measurement properties of translated versions of neck-specific questionnaires: a systematic review. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2011 Jun 6;11:87.
TBI-specific References:
Hanten G, Li X, Newsome MR, Swank P, Chapman SB, Dennis M, Barnes M, Ewing-Cobbs L, Levin HS. Oral Reading and Expressive Language After Childhood Traumatic Brain Injury Trajectory and Correlates of Change Over Time. Top Lang Disord. 2009 Jul;29(3):236-48.
Taylor HG, Swartwout MD, Yeates KO, Walz NC, Stancin T, Wade SL. Traumatic brain injury in young children: postacute effects on cognitive and school readiness skills. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2008 Sep;14(5):734-45.
Document last updated March 2024
Recommended Instrument for
CP, Epilepsy, Mito, MS, NMD, and TBI