Best practices in cognitive assessment
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Best Practices in Cognitive Assessment

Nancy McBride, PhD, ABSNP, NCSP

[email protected]

September 23, 2008


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Selecting an Instrument

Federal regulations:

“§ 300.304 (c) (3) – Assessments are selected and administered so as best to ensure that if an assessment is administered to a child with impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills, the assessment results accurately reflect the child’s aptitude or achievement level or whatever other factors the test purports to measure, rather than reflecting the child’s impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills (unless those skills are the factors that the test purports to measure).”

McBride, 2008


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Selecting an Instrument

  • Age

  • Language ability/Cultural Issues

  • English language ability

  • Cognitive level

  • Is a new assessment necessary?

McBride, 2008


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Age

  • See test manual for appropriate ages

  • Caution - ceiling effect

  • If JR or SR in high school consider – administering WAIS-III or WJ-III

McBride, 2008


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Language Ability

Limited or no verbal ability, choose a nonverbal assessment tool or results will not be valid

McBride, 2008


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English Language Ability/Cultural Issues

Federal regulations state:

“§ 300.304 (c) (1) Assessments and other evaluation materials used to assess a child under this part –

  • Are selected and administered so as not to be discriminatory on a racial or cultural basis

  • Are provided and administered in the child’s native language or other mode of communication and in the form most likely to yield accurate information on what the child knows and can do academically, developmentally, and functionally…”

McBride, 2008


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English Language Ability/Cultural Issues

  • What is the child’s primary language?

    • Parent’s primary language important

    • Length of time in this country also important

  • Assess the child’s fluency in both languages (Buchanan & Coleman, 2008)

  • Administer nonverbal assessment

  • Keep in mind that disability should occur in both languages

  • Disability should not be due to cultural or language differences

McBride, 2008


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Cognitive Level

If low cognition suspected, choose wisely. SB5 includes low verbal items and more lower end items to better assess low cognition.

If child has little to no verbal skills, consider a nonverbal assessment tool.

McBride, 2008


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Is a new assessment necessary?

  • 2 previous IQs commensurate - OK

    • Flynn effect (IQ rises approximately 3 pts per decade»renorming) (1987)

    • One should be at 8 yrs old or later (.72 correlation w/adult – Patrick, T.G.p 105)

  • If <2 previous IQs – administer a new one

McBride, 2008


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Is a new assessment necessary?

  • If ≥2 IQ, but not commensurate:

    • Look for reasons, e.g. illness, injury, type of test

    • Account for Flynn effect

    • Look with confidence level, not exact IQ

  • If difference cannot be explained, administer another using chart below & trained personnel to choose ‘best’ assessment tool for this child

McBride, 2008


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Suggested Instruments

  • WPPSI-III

  • WISC-IV

  • WAIS-III

  • Bayley-III

  • Callier-Azusa Scale

  • WNV

  • UNIT

  • SB5

  • WJ-III

McBride, 2008


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WPPSI-III

  • Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence – Third Edition

  • Ages 2 yrs 6 mos-7 yrs 3 mos

  • Yields three composite scores

    • VIQ, PIQ, Processing Speed, and FSIQ

  • Mean of 100 – SD 15 points

    • Average 85-115

  • Subtests: mean of 10 – SD 3 points

    • Average 7-13

McBride, 2008


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WPPSI-III

McBride, 2008


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WISC-IV

  • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – Fourth Edition

  • Ages 6 yrs 0 mos-16 yrs 11 mos

  • Yields five composite scores

    • VCI, PRI, WMI, PSI, and FSIQ

  • Mean of 100 – SD 15 points

    • Average 85-115

  • Subtests: mean of 10 – SD 3 points

    • Average 7-13

McBride, 2008


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WISC-IV

McBride, 2008


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GAI or not?

Federal regulation:

“§ 300.304 (c) (1) (v) Are administered in accordance with any instructions provided by the producer of the assessments”

GAI – Composite score based on subtests of the VCI & PRI (does not include WMI or PSI)

McBride, 2008


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GAI or not?

  • http://harcourtassessment.com/NR/rdonlyres/91DACD36-4E78-4F5C-976D-D6048BD67ED7/0/WISCIVTechReport4.pdf for details on when to use

  • SPS uses the GAI when appropriate but only after review by a process coordinator, educational diagnostician, or school psychologist (23 pt difference)

McBride, 2008


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WAIS-III

  • Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Third Edition

  • Ages 16 yrs 0 mos-89 yrs 0 mos

  • Yields three composite scores

    • VIQ, PIQ, and FSIQ

  • Yields 4 index scores

    • VCI, POI, WMI, PSI

  • Mean of 100 – SD 15 points

    • Average 85-115

  • Subtests: mean of 10 – SD 3 points

    • Average 7-13

McBride, 2008


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WAIS-III

McBride, 2008


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Bayley-III

  • Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, Third Edition

  • Ages 1 month – 42 months

  • Assesses 5 developmental domains

    • Cognitive, language, motor, adaptive, social-emotional

  • Subtests: Mean 10, average 8-12

  • No composite score

McBride, 2008


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Callier-Azusa Scale

  • Ages 0 to 8 years

  • Assesses development of deaf/blind or severely handicapped children

  • 5 assessed areas

    • Motor, perception, daily living skills, language & socialization

McBride, 2008


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WNV

  • Wechsler Nonverbal Ability Scales

  • Ages 4 yrs, 0 mos – 21 yrs, mos

  • Yields Full Scale IQ

  • Mean of 100 – SD 15

    • Average 85-115

  • Subtest: Mean 50 – SD 10

  • Used for nonverbal, hearing loss, or with statistically significant & unusual discrepancy between verbal & non-verbal scales on other measures

McBride, 2008


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Stanford-Binet V

  • Stanford Binet Intelligence Scale-Fifth Edition

  • Ages: 2 yrs 0 mos – 85+ years

  • Verbal, Nonverbal, and FSIQ: Mean 100 – SD 16

  • 5 indexes: Fluid Reasoning, Knowledge, Quantitative Reasoning, Visual-Spatial Processing, & Working Memory: Mean

  • Good for low functioning/diverse populations

McBride, 2008


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UNIT

  • Universal Nonverbal Intelligence Test

  • Ages 5 yrs 0 mos – 17 yrs 11 mos

  • Grades K-12

  • 5 quotients: FSIQ, Memory, Reasoning, Symbolic, and Nonsymbolic: Mean 100, SD 15

  • 6 subtests: Mean 10, SD 3

McBride, 2008


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WJ-III

  • Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Ability – Third Edition

  • Ages 2 yrs – 90+ yrs

  • 7 clusters

    • Comprehension-knowledge, long-term retrieval, visual-spatial thinking, auditory processing, fluid reasoning, processing speed, and short-term memory

  • Mean 100 – SD 15

    • Average 85 - 115

McBride, 2008


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Why complete a cognitive assessment?

Federal regulation:

“§ 300.304 (b) (1) Use a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information about the child, including information provided by the parents…”

McBride, 2008


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Why complete a cognitive assessment?

Federal regulation:

“§ 300.304 (c) (4) The child is assessed in all areas related to the suspected disability, including, if appropriate, health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, communicative status, and motor abilities;”

McBride, 2008


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Why complete a cognitive assessment?

Federal regulation:

“§ 300.304 (c) (6) In evaluating each child with a disability under §§300.304 through 300.306, the evaluation is sufficiently comprehensive to identify all of the child’s special education and related services needs, whether or not commonly linked to the disability category in which the child has been classified.”

McBride, 2008


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Why complete a cognitive assessment?

All 13 categories of eligibility state the disability must adversely affect the child’s education

Ability assessments provide a context for comparison of all other domains

Example: Achievement scores = 76

If IQ is 100, child having difficulty

If IQ is 75, child performing up to ability

McBride, 2008


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Why complete a cognitive assessment?

  • Strengths/Weaknesses

    • Assist in planning interventions

    • Use strengths to assist, improve weaknesses

  • Verification that a child has sufficient intelligence to learn the school curriculum

  • Establishment of an ability level so that expectations for school achievement (including the detection of an underachievement) can occur objectively

  • Diagnose or r/o learning disabilities and MR (Wodrich, 1997)

McBride, 2008


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Who should administer?

Federal regulations:

“§ 300.305 (c) (1) (iv) – Are administered by trained and knowledgeable personnel”

Local district determines who is trained

McBride, 2008


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References

  • Assessment Committee, SPS, 2006. Dawn Ward, Chairperson

  • Buchanan, H. & Coleman, A. (2008) NASP Presentation. Evaluation of English Language Learners and Determining Special Education Eligibility.

  • Flynn, J. R. (1987). Massive IQ gains in 14 nations: What IQ tests really measure. Psychological Bulletin, 101,171-191

  • Patrick, T.G. (2005) AP Psychology 7th Edition - The Best Test Prep for the AP Exam (Test Preps). Research & Education Association.

  • Raiford, S.E., Waiss, L.G., Rolfhus, E., and Coalson, D. (2005) WISC-IV: General Ability Index. Technical Report # 4.

  • Wodrich, D.L. (1997). Children’s Psychological Testing, 3rd ed., Brookes Publishing: Baltimore, MD.

McBride, 2008


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Questions?

McBride, 2008


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