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TEST REVIEW

Woodcock-McGrew-Werder Mini-Battery of Achievement (MBA) (1994)

Carole L. Cruse, Ron Dumont, & John Willis

AUTHORS: Richard Woodcock, Kevin McGrew, & Judy Werder.

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 MBA.

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.

REFERENCES:

Woodcock, R. W., & Johnson, M. B., (1989). Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery-Revised. Chicago: Riverside Publishing.