Linguistic complexity of test items is one test format element that has been studied in the context of struggling readers and their participation in paper-and-pencil tests. The present article presents findings from an exploratory study on the potential relationship between linguistic complexity and test performance for deaf readers. A total of 64 students completed 52 multiple-choice items, 32 in mathematics and 20 in reading. These items were coded for linguistic complexity components of vocabulary, syntax, and discourse. Mathematics items had higher linguistic complexity ratings than reading items, but there were no significant relationships between item linguistic complexity scores and student performance on the test items. The discussion addresses issues related to the subject area, student proficiency levels in the test content, factors to look for in determining a "linguistic complexity effect," and areas for further research in test item development and deaf students.


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pp. 255-269
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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