Process Assessment of the Learner – Test Battery
and Writing (PAL-RW)
- By Ron Dumont and John Willis
The Process Assessment of the Learner – Test Battery for Reading and Writing (PAL-RW;
Berninger, 2001) (The Psychological Corporation), uses a variety of tasks to
assess a children’s development of reading and writing processes. The PAL-RW
was normed in 1999-2000 on 868 individuals in grades K-6 from around the U.S.
According to the author, the PAL-RW can be used to:
Screen by identifying students at risk for reading/writing problems;
Monitor by tracking progress for students in early intervention and prevention programs; and
Diagnose by evaluating the nature of reading/writingrelated processing problems.
Complete Kit in a Box
Includes Examiner's Manual, Stimulus Booklets, 25 Record Forms, 25 Response Forms, Stylus-Wood, Word Card, Audiotape, and Shield.
The PAL-RW appears
to be a good
at measuring the emerging skills needed for the complicated tasks of reading and
writing.As a diagnostic tool for
early grade school children, it appears to be quite useful.Its use with older children may be hampered by the limited number of
items on certain subtests.The
scores obtained by older children may accurately reflect the problems they may
have in the specific area, but the lack of sufficient numbers of items limits
any diagnostic or interpretive statements that can be made.The PAL-RW would be more useful with clarification of the scoring rules,
as noted below.
(speed of writing lower-case letters of the alphabet from memory in 15
Task A [shown a word (AT) for 1 second. Then shown IT. Are the words the same?]
Task B [shown a word (BAT) for 1 second. Then shown C. Is the letter in the
Task C [shown a word (ATE) for 1 second. Then shown ET. Are the 2 letters in the
word in the correct order?]
Task D [shown a word (MOTHER) for 1 second. Then shown L. Is the letter in the
Task E [shown a word (SOCIETY) for 1 second. Then shown EI. Are the 2 letters in
the word in the correct order?]
Task A [shown a word (QAST) for 1 second. Then write the word.]
Task B [shown a word (LADFUST) for 1 second. Then write the third letter.]
Task C [shown a word (POGDUS) for 1 second. Then write the last 3 letters.]
Automatic Naming (RAN)
Rapid Letter Naming (name these letters as fast as you can) Item 1: m t g k b h r a nItem 2:fipserou
Rapid Word Naming (name these words as fast as you can) dogeatofsitover
Rapid Digit Naming (name these numbers as fast as you can) Item 1: 3 7 8 1 9 6 2)Item 2: 67894573
Rapid Word and Digit Naming (name these Words and Digits as fast as you can) teaeat56of89over
Task - A
(Listen to a story and take notes as it is read)
Task A (Listen to 3 words and tell which one does not have the same sound) ballcallhelp
Task B (The word is PIG.Tell me
all the real words you can that rhyme with PIG.)
(Hear a word (both real and made-up), say the word, now say it with a sound
left out) PUTTINGSay
say it without the PUT
(Hear a word (both real and made up), say the word, now say it with a sound
left out – what sound was left out) SITSay
SITNow say ITWhat sound is missing?
(Say a word (real or made up)with a sound left out) Say BIKE without /b/
(Shown 3 words, indicate the one which is spelled correctly) PIGPAGPIZE
(Read some words that are not real words) DRIYHAFFESTROC
(After being read a short story, answer questions, then retell story in own
(1 & 2) [Touch thumb to index finger 20 times (Right and left hands)
scored for completion time]
Succession (1 & 2) [Touch thumb to each finger 5 complete times (Right
and left hands) scored for completion time]
Localization (After having one finger touched out of sight, tell which
finger was touched)
Recognition (Each finger is assigned a number. After having one finger
touched out of sight, tell what number of the finger was touched)
Fingertip Writing (After having a letter “written” onto a fingertip,
tell which letter was written)
(Read 3 sentences and tell which one makes sense) I ATE THE CAKE I EIGHT THE CAKE I ATE THE CAPE
a sentence (paragraph). Copy it as fast as you can)
Task ATHE LAZY BOY JUMPED OVER
Task B(A paragraph)
Task B(Take the notes created earlier [Note-Taking Task A] and write a
paragraph based on the notes)
scores are based upon the grade of the child tested, not the chronological age.No explanation is given for why this is so.Are these “neurodevelopmental processes” age- or grade-dependent?
sampling seems adequate [>100 at each grade (range 105 – grade 6 to 142 –
grade 1)].Appropriate percentage
comparisons to the U.S. population are evident
for sex; race/ethnicity; parental education; and geographic region.
scores are reported as DECILE scores.These
describe which tenth of the distribution the child’s performance lies in.A child’s Decile score of 20 means that 20% of the general population
was at or below the child’s performance.The
PAL divides the Decile scores into descriptive categories (10-20 - Deficient,
30-40 - At Risk, 50 - Emerging Adequate, 60-80 – Adequate,
and 90-100 – Proficient).
comparisons based on 86 children in Grades 1, 3, and 5 tested a second time14 to 49 days later, show reliabilities that ranged from .61 to .92.Five measures had reliabilities below .70.Seven of the 14 tests had lower scores on retest!
between clinical and nonclinical samples suffer from limitations in sample size.For example, of 18 measures assessed and compared, the sampling range
from an n of 3 to an n of 23.Result
found significant differences (p < .05) for 7 of the 18 subtests
may wish to add some tabs to the easels since they contain multiple subtests and
differing starting points.
pages on the easel are sturdy, but after repeated use, they begin to tear away
from the ring binder.This is
especially true on the pages for which the examiner is required to flip after
only 1 second of exposure.Examiners
may wish to apply ring reinforcers or to apply heavy tape and repunch the holes.
·This test is scored for the number of correct, unique letters the child
has reproduced in 15 seconds.
·For those children who are very young or very slow, the record form
provides space to record the number of letters completed in 5 minutes.No norms are provided for this condition.
·Norms for Grades K (both Fall and Spring) are based upon
WIAT-II standardization sampling
·Scoring examples are given in the manual although no explanations of how
to determine “Too closed” or “Too open” are given.
·You do not count as correct “letters that are out of order.”This seems a bit confusing.If
a child writes “abdcefhg”, how does it?Since the 3rd letter is incorrect, are all others out of order
resulting in a score of 2?The
manual does not elaborate.
Automatic Naming (RAN)
·The score for these tasks is based upon the amount of time it takes to
name the letters or numbers presented.However,
although the examiner keeps track of errors, the Decile score is simply based on
the speed, not the accuracy of completion.Norms for errors suggest that any error at any age places
the child in the Deficient or At-Risk category.
Task - A
·No tape is provided to the examiner leaving a wide variation of how the
story can be read.The manual notes
that the examiner should read in a “normal, conversational tone” similar to
a class lecture.There is no
emphasis on any words or parts of the passage.
·Scoring is done by comparing the notes taken with criteria relating to
Main Ideas and Supporting Ideas.Two
of the main ideas have credit for the same supporting detail.It is unclear if the child must say the supporting idea twice to get the
credit or if by mentioning it once, he or she gets the credit twice.
·Scoring also includes scores for “Attributes” rated as Never,
Rarely, Sometimes, Often, and Always Present.These attributes, and their scoring, are seemingly ill-defined, with no
examples given to explain what is meant by or how to judge some of the
attributes (e.g.,“Notes are
legible”).In the attribute
section, up to 4 points are given for “Notes are accurate” (undefined),
despite the fact that the Main Ideas and Supporting Ideas scoring section
presumably was measuring accuracy.
·Grades 1-3 start with item Sample 3, and number 11. If, after taking 10
items, the child has failed any two items, examiners go back and administer
items 1-10.However, children in
grades 4-6 start at Sample 4, and are administered only 6 items.Regardless of the number of errors, examiners do not administer earlier
items?That seems like a small
number of items to create a stable score.
·Each subtest provides only 6 items for children in grades 4-6
·Succession (1 & 2) [Touch thumb to each finger 5 complete times
(Right and left hands)]. Examiners are to record the “Finger order of
Incorrect Sequences.”This seems
to be a fairly difficult task and one, like many of the supplemental recordings
made by the examiner, which has no score nor any interpretive suggestions.
[Here is a sentence (paragraph). Copy it as fast as you can.]
·Despite the fact that the paragraph for Task B contains both capital
letters and punctuation marks, only the number of correctly copied letters is
·The directions for scoring include “Do not count letters that are
written in capitals (uppercase).Yet
14 words in the paragraph are capitalized!?
·No directions for how to score run-on words is given.Must the child copy the sentence and paragraph with correct spacing
between the words?