Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Psychology (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Samuel O. Ortiz

Second Advisor

Dawn P Flanagan

Third Advisor

Marlene Sotelo-Dynega


Traditional efforts in aiding English learners (ELs) to achieve better test performance such as modifications to the testing process or the use of native language or nonverbal tests are problematic and disregard the unique language developmental experiences of ELs (Ortiz & Wong, 2022). The Ortiz Picture Vocabulary Acquisition Test (Ortiz PVAT; Ortiz, 2018), an assessment of English receptive vocabulary, incorporates ELs’ proportion of lifetime exposure to English (LEE) in test norms to allow for true peer comparison, thus ensuring test fairness in measurement and score interpretation. The current study aimed to add to the existing validity evidence for the test and to provide support for the use of true peer norms which account for LEE when assessing ELs’ English receptive vocabulary development in an archival dataset comprising a sample of ELs from the New York City metropolitan area. Results indicate that performance on the Ortiz PVAT was not affected by gender nor home language spoken, suggesting that the Ortiz PVAT measures receptive vocabulary in English in a fair manner, irrespective of one’s gender or heritage language. LEE significantly correlated with receptive vocabulary, such that higher LEE was associated with better performance on the Ortiz PVAT. Furthermore, significant differences in standard scores based on the English Speaker (ES) norms with a medium effect size was found between the groups of EL with low or medium levels of LEE and the ES sample but not when their test performance was compared to the EL normative sample when LEE is accounted for. Lastly, an additional 18% of the variance in Ortiz PVAT raw scores was accounted for by LEE above and beyond age, and LEE was found to exert more influence on the variance in raw scores compared to age. Results from the current study provide further support for existing validity evidence for the Ortiz PVAT and contribute to the knowledge base regarding test fairness for ELs, specifically in the establishment of the importance of true peer comparison with LEE accounted for in the valid and defensible evaluation of ELs’ language abilities.

Included in

Psychology Commons