Woodcock-McGrew-Werder Mini-Battery of
Achievement (MBA) (1994)
Carole L. Cruse, Ron Dumont, & John
AUTHORS: Richard Woodcock, Kevin McGrew, & Judy
PUBLISHER: Riverside Publishing. $138 for the test easel
with manual, 25 record forms with subject worksheets, and 5.25" and
3.5" computer disks (for either IBM- compatible or Apple/Macintosh).
The Mini-Battery's scoring is done solely by computer, using the MBA
Scoring and Reporting Computer Program. The manual does not contain
any tables or charts of normative data.
PURPOSE: The Woodcock-McGrew-Werder Mini-Battery of
Achievement (MBA) is an approximately 30-minute, one-easel assessment
of reading, math, writing, and knowledge intended for various
educational "screening" purposes for ages 4 to 95.
STANDARDIZATION: The Manual refers the reader to the WJ-R
Technical Manual for information regarding the MBA norming since the
norms of the MBA are based on a common sample with the WJ-R. The MBA
is an amalgamation of many existing WJ-R items and alternates that
were tested, but not included in the WJ-R. The MBA consists of 269
items, with 101 items (38%) taken from the WJ-R, Form A, and 119
items (44%) taken from Form B.
RELIABILITY: Split-half reliabilities based on the entire
norming sample at ages 5, 6, 9, 13, 18, and four adult groups ranged
from .92 to .94 for the three Basic Skills subtests. Factual
Knowledge has a median reliability of .87, while the Cluster
reliability is .93. Test-retest reliabilities range from .85 to .94
for subtests and from .94 to .97 for the Basic Skills Cluster.
VALIDITY: Content validity is discussed as it relates to
the content of the items used. Items were selected based on "item
validity studies as well as expert opinion". Concurrent validity was
established using the same samples used for the test-retest studies.
Even with the substantial likeness in origin, form, and content, this
did not result in remarkably higher correlations between the MBA and
the WJ-R and other achievement tests (PIAT, K-BIT, WRAT). Patterns of
subtest intercorrelations provide data for construct validity. The
median correlations ranged from .65 to .80, indicating significant
relationships among the subtests.
ADMINISTRATION AND SCORING: The test consists of four main
sections: Reading, Writing, Mathematics, and Factual Knowledge. The
Reading section asks the examinee to identify letters and words,
state antonyms for words, and answer questions based on paragraphs
read. The Writing section asks the examinee to print letters, words,
punctuation marks etc. when the task is read aloud by the examiner.
The examinee is also asked to identify an error in written sentences
or passages, which may be due to spelling, punctuation, or usage. The
Mathematics section contains subtests assessing both computation and
math reasoning skills. Factual knowledge, though not included in the
in the Basic Skills Cluster, assesses knowledge of science, social
studies, art, music, and literature.
Starting points are "suggested" for different school-based
levels. Response time has no defined parameters, although examiners
are encouraged not to spend "unnecessary time" before advancing on to
the next item. The MBA is advertised as a test that can be
administered by paraprofessionals because of its ease of
administration and scoring. Basal and ceiling rules are given, but
they may seem confusing to paraprofessionals. The basal rule states
"If the 4 lowest numbered items given are not all correct, return to
the starting point. Then test backward, full page by full page, until
the 4 lowest numbered items given are all correct...." The
inexperienced examiner may assume that they have completed the
testing for the subtest. There is no reminder to return to the
highest item and continue to test until the discontinue criterion is
met. Scoring guidelines are generally very clear. The MBA Scoring and
Reporting Computer Program supplies derived scores for the total
Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Basic Skills, and Factual Knowledge
measures. No scores are reported for the separate subtests that make
up the measures. A potential interpretive problem may result if a
child has a strength in one skill that is significant enough to
overshadow a weakness in another skill within the same academic
domain. The resulting total "averaged" score may be simply a
misleading artifact that has hidden the strength and/or weakness.
The Scoring and Reporting Program includes, and emphasizes, age-
or grade-equivalent scores in both the statistical table and the
narrative section of the report printout. The statistical table
includes: age- or grade-equivalent scores, percentile rank, standard
score, SEm for standard scores, Normal Curve Equivalent, and T-score.
Scores are reported as single scores, with no confidence intervals.
PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS: These reviewers administered the
MBA to a range of students and adults as part of this review. Testing
time varied with age, with only the very young children, 4 to 6
years, meeting the 25-minute to half-hour time criterion stated in
the manual. Younger children were unable to perform the tasks asked
of them on at least four of the subtests (i.e., Reading Part B:
Vocabulary, Part C: Comprehension, Writing Part B: Dictation, and
Mathematics Part A: Calculation), causing quick discontinuation and
greatly lessening the testing time. Unfortunately, that limitation
also effects the utility of the resulting scores. The time estimation
for the test was not met by the older children and adults. Skill
level change between items was sudden and drastic, making some of the
examinees we tested feel frustrated and ineffectual.
These reviewers were concerned about the obtainable scores on the
MBA. A four-year-old child, obtaining a raw score of 0 on every
subtest, would receive standard scores ranging from <18 to
<108. This same child, obtaining a raw score of 1 on each subtest,
would receive standard scores ranging from 25 to 152! The MBA,
although normed for children as young as four, supplies little useful
or meaningful information at the low age levels.
CONCLUSIONS: It is difficult to consider the MBA a unique
test in its own right, when approximately 82% of its items are taken
from the WJ-R Achievement Tests. It is more like a short form derived
from a complete test. If the WJ-R were used for follow-up testing
when indicated by MBA results, it is possible that the student will
be given up to approximately 101 or 119 items already taken in the
The computer program was straight-forward and easy to use. Data
entry takes typically less than 2 minutes. The program allows results
to be either printed or shown on the screen. While the computer
scoring capabilities of the MBA are both timely and impressive,
including a scoring disk without a normative manual is not practical.
Having the capacity to double check computer obtained scores is
imperative when making assessment decisions.
Overall, the MBA is a step above other brief screening tests
because it assesses a broader range of academic skills. The MBA is a
good achievement screener since it is easy to give and understand and
has the potential to elicit meaningful results in a timely manner.
Examiners may be tempted to use the MBA as a "quick and dirty"
substitute for the WJ-R, because of its brief testing time, extensive
scope, and a quick report. Examiners must use the test solely for the
purposes expressly stated by the authors.
Woodcock, R. W., & Johnson, M. B., (1989). Woodcock-Johnson
Psychoeducational Battery-Revised. Chicago: Riverside Publishing.