Preschool Language Scales-5 Screening Test (PLS-5 Screening Test)

Preschool Language Scales-5 Screening Test (PLS-5 Screening Test)


Irla Lee Zimmerman, PhD, Violette G. Steiner, BS, Roberta Evatt Pond, MA


PLS™-5 Screening Test can be used to screen a broad spectrum of speech and language skills for children birth through age 7.

Age Range:



Examiner interaction and verbal response to stimulus pictures

Scoring Option:

Manual Scoring

RTI Tiers:

RTI Level 1

Completion Time:

5-10 minutes


Norm-based criterion scores—emerging interaction, language and speech skills in infants and toddlers; norm-referenced scores for articulation and language; descriptive information for social/interpersonal communication skills, stuttering, and voice for children ages 3:0 to 7:11

Publication Date:


The PLS-5 Screening Test provides an efficient instrument to help you identify infants, toddlers, and young children at risk for a language disorder. This tool can help you screen for a broad spectrum of skills within six speech and language areas—in just 5 to 10 minutes.


  • Conduct infant, preschool, or kindergarten screenings of emerging developmental communication skills
  • Identify children who may need to be referred for further speech or languag assessment

Features & Benefits

  • Language items include the most discriminating test items from the PLS-5 and PLS-5 Spanish.
  • If PLS-5 is used as the follow-up diagnostic measure, there’s no need to re-administer the test items from the screening—simply transfer the responses from the PLS-5 Screening Tests to the PLS-5 protocol.
  • Stimulus pages, administration and scoring directions, and technical information are all included in one compact manual, simplifying administration.
  • Record Forms are available in tear-off pads.
  • No manipulatives are needed for children ages 3:0 to 7:11. For infants and toddlers, use toys and objects that are easily found within the child’s environment (squeaky toys, infant toys such as rattles, baby bottle, cup).
  • You have the option of training paraprofessionals or teacher’s aides to screen speech and language skills using this tool.

Areas of Assessment

  • Helps you screen emerging interaction, comprehension, and expressive skills of infants and toddlers
  • Enables you to screen six speech and language areas emerging interpersonal, communication, and feeding skills for children birth through 2:11. These areas are:
    • Language
    • Articulation
    • Connected Speech
    • Social/Interpersonal Communication Skills
    • Stuttering
    • Voice

Pre-recorded Webinars

  • Prime Time to Screen–PLS-5 & CELF-5 Screening Tests and Shaywitz DyslexiaScreen

    Presenter: Adam Scheller, PhD

    Back-to-school is an ideal time for screening! Obtain important information about how screening helps identify children and adolescents at-risk for a disorder, as well as screening benefits and limitations. Specifics about screening tools available for children from birth through age 21 such as age ranges, content, understanding screening results, and next steps will be presented.

    Date: Aug 17, 2017

    pdf PDF: Prime Time to Screen–PLS-5 & CELF-5 Screening Tests and Shaywitz DyslexiaScreen

    link Video: Prime Time to Screen–PLS-5 & CELF-5 Screening Tests and Shaywitz DyslexiaScreen

  • Screening Communication Skills to Identify At-Risk Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers Using the PLS-5 Screening Tests

    Presenter: Adam Scheller, PhD

    From the time a child comes into the world, the ability to attend to, interact with, and communicate with others is key to learning about the world around them and forming key concepts that as a foundation for later academic learning and successful interactions with others. However, many studies indicate that a significant number of children do not successfully acquire the speech and language skills they need prior to beginning school. Identifying at-risk children early is crucial to providing early intervention services that help close the gap for children before they begin formal academic instruction.

    The Preschool Language Scales-5th Edition Screening Tests for Early Childhood Educators (PLS-5 Screening for Early Childhood Educators) is a quick speech and language screening that can be administered to children from birth through age 6 in 5-10 minutes. Results of the screening help identify at-risk children who may be appropriate for additional testing. This session will provide an overview of the English and Spanish editions of the screening tests and provide examples of the screening items, scoring, and next steps based on the screening results.

    Date: Aug 15, 2017

    pdf PDF: Screening Communication Skills to Identify At-Risk Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers Using the PLS-5 Screening Tests

    link Video: Screening Communication Skills to Identify At-Risk Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers Using the PLS-5 Screening Tests


Frequently asked questions follow. Click on a question to see the response.

PLS-5 Enhancements

  • I like PLS-4. How different is PLS-5?

  • Are there new tasks for children functioning at an infant/toddler level?

  • Are there new tasks for preschoolers?

  • What are the new tasks for older children, especially at age 7?

  • Why do the “Preschool” language scales extend to age 7:11?

Start Points and Age levels

  • I’m confused about the Start Points versus. Developmental Tasks age ranges. What’s the difference?

  • Why are the test items so much harder now on PLS-5? “Responds to speaker by smiling” is now at Ages 0:6 to 0:11. It used to be at 2 months.

Test Administration

  • Are there guidelines that relate to how often PLS-5 can be administered?

Picture Manual

  • We work in a setting with children who crush or tear the pages. After heavy use, the pages get really dirty and we would really like to see a Picture Manual with pages that we can wipe clean. Was this considered when designing the test?


  • Do I need to buy the manipulatives set or can I collect my own?

  • The administration directions and record form say I need to use a “loud squeaky toy” to administer some items, but the duck that comes with the kit does not have a loud squeak.

  • On page 7 of the Examiner’s Manual, it says I need two cars for administration, “one of which should be blue.” I didn’t receive a blue car in my manipulatives kit!

  • I tried to administer Auditory Comprehension item 27 and found that the blue plastic box that comes in the kit is not large enough to fit both the bear and the pitcher.

  • The plastic blue box in the kit isn’t large enough to fit all the manipulatives!

  • The large blue box isn’t large enough to hold the manipulatives and the manuals. Why wasn’t the kit packaged in a larger kit box or in a tote?

  • I didn’t receive the books that are shown in the catalog. I received one book that is different.

  • I received two level 2 books (“Dog named Sam” and “Three by Sea”), but I test 2 and 3 yr olds, and I need the books that are level 1. Is there a different level of the books that are available?

  • Can I order individual manipulatives separately or do I have to order the whole set?

  • Why does the Upgrade Manipulatives Kit cost so much? I don’t save much if I order a Basic Kit and just the Upgrade Manipulatives kit.


  • Am I able to qualify a child for services using the Auditory Comprehension or Expressive Communication score?

  • Some students I have used the PLS-5 on so far seemed to be scoring higher than on the PLS-4. I am concerned that in some districts with rigid eligibility cutoffs, these children no longer qualify for services.

  • For the children I am working with, PLS-5 scores seem slightly high. Do you have any insights into this?

  • When administering the PLS-5 English to a bilingual student, if the student answers a question correctly however they answer in Spanish, should that be marked correct or incorrect?

  • I found information about how to score when a child has multiple basals [page 11 of the Administration and Scoring Manual], but I don’t see information in the Manual about scoring when the child has a double ceiling. Which one should I use?

  • Is there an error or omission in Appendix E (Dialectical Variations), since we do not offer any dialectical variations for AC item 62 a? Variations are listed for AC 62 b, c, & d.) Is this purposeful, because there are no variations, or is there an error in the manual?

  • A child was tested at the following ages with PLS-4 and PLS-5:

    PLS-4: Age 3-11         Total Language Standard Score 66, 1st percentile
    PLS-4: Age 4-4           Total Language Standard Score 50, 1st percentile
    PLS-5: Age 4-11         Total Language Standard Score 72, 3rd percentile

    The parent indicated that “I have not seen that much improvement,” and is upset about the test results. Are the PLS-5 norms correct?

  • When calculating PLS-5 scores, can I adjust for prematurity? I don’t find anything about this in the Examiner’s Manual.

Recycle Program

  • Can I recycle my old PLS-4 kit?

PLS-5 Spanish

  • When will PLS-5 Spanish be published?

  • How will the test be administered?

  • Can I use the same set of manipulatives for PLS-5 English and PLS-5 Spanish?

  • Can I just translate the PLS-5 English kit to use with my Spanish-speaking children?

PLS-5 Screening and PLS-5 Spanish Screening

  • When was the PLS-5 Screening & PLS-5 Spanish Screening tests published?

  • Can I use the PLS-4 Screening Test and apply those scores to the PLS-5 Screening Test?

  • Can I use the PLS-5 Screening Test and apply those scores to the PLS-5 diagnostic test?

  • Are the English and Spanish PLS-5 Screening Tests different?

  • I see that the PLS-5 Spanish Screening Test has English and Spanish test items. Can I administer the English items on the Spanish test to my English speaking clients?

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