Since 2002, 4 million visitors plus:
hit counters
search engine optimization service

  Appletcollection Vertical Menu java applet, Copyright 2003 GD

Software Review: A Comparison of Five Interpreter/Report Writers

Ron Dumont - Casey Stevens - Jon Short


Software Reviewed

WISC-III Writer Psych Report Writer Kaufman WISC-III
QuickWriter Educational Applications of the WISC-III Report Writer for the WJ-R
Bottom Line

Introduction

These authors reviewed 6 commercial software packages currently available for use in creating psycho educational assessment reports. All programs were provided by the individual software companies with no stipulations placed on the authors' comments. (One company requested a signed contract that allowed for prepublication editorial input and that software package was not reviewed). IBM compatible programs (both DOS and Windows based) were reviewed using a Digital Venturis 466, while Macintosh programs were reviewed on a Power Macintosh 7100 and a Powerbook 5300cs. The goals of these reviews were to compare and contrast the programs' ease of use, user friendliness, information provided, and accuracy of results.

For each of the programs, installation on the appropriate machines was simple and straight forward. Those familiar with the particular computer should find no difficulty loading and running either version. Computer neophytes will find the installation instructions in the manuals helpful. Once loaded and running, all programs offer both mouse and/or keystroke navigation.

Each program reviewed acted, to greatly varying degrees, as a report generator by placing inputted scores (raw or scaled scores depending on the program) and user chosen descriptors into its own report format. The resulting narrative is editable either within the program itself or after the program transfers the results to your word processor. Most reports included areas for background information, test results, differing levels and ways of interpretation, a section for recommendations (program or user supplied) and some form of tables that include all relevant scores. Most programs provided a way to input scores from achievement tests and to then determine if there was an ability/achievement discrepancy. Differing options for making this determination were available. Most programs print a 5 to 10 page report. No program contained a built-in spell checker. Each program offered varying degrees of error checking of inputted scores. Some programs were found to have serious errors that can effect the interpretations generated. Anyone using a computer program must be mindful of the legal and ethical obligations that accompany their use.

WISC-III Writer: The Interpretive Software System. The Psychological Corporation, $295. Available for Macintosh and IBM (DOS and Windows based).

This program allows for the scoring and interpreting of the WISC-III and the WIAT. Users are able to input either raw scores or scaled scores from the tests and the program converts these scores into appropriate standard scores and IQs. Because this data is copyrighted by the Psychological Corporation, this is the only commercial program available that allows such a conversion of scores. Extensive error checking is available. Scores entered by accident that do not match the range expected are automatically flagged with a warning dialog. Once the data are entered, they may be saved to a database and sorted by a number of options. If the user has graphic capability, this program also allows for the inclusion of a child's picture. Once scored, the computer will generate varying reports: a parent report; an interpretive report; or a set of Tables and Graphs. Besides the scoring and interpreting of the Wechsler material, the extensive report writing nature of the program comes from 20 selectable screens that provide the user with check boxes and/or radio button choices. Areas covered include: Test session behaviors, Referral questions, Previous evaluations, Medical results, etc.. The program will tailor the printout based on the information checked in these windows. The choices made by the user are checked for contradictions and the program guards against them (in the development section, if a user checks "was born with no apparent complications" and then checks "was born prematurely", the program automatically un-selects the first choice. The report generated is fully editable on screen before printing. Also included in the program is a fairly detailed set of "ReportClips". These are prewritten statements that can be copied and pasted directly into the current report. These ReportClips cover 11 broad areas including: Academic, Intellectual, Recommendations, and Speech and Communications. The program also allows the user to create and save new ReportClips for later use. This may be especially helpful for users who wish to save pre-written statements that are used continually in different reports. Users have the ability to save the completed reports as report files (separate from the database), as well as the ability to copy the entire report into a word processing program for additional editing and formatting. This was useful since the program does not contain a spell checker. It should be noted that when the reports were spell checked, no errors were found in any of the statements generated by the program.

The program offers the user many options for configuring the interpretive report and analysis. All options are easily changed with a click of the mouse. A full set of options for Table printouts; Ability estimates (IQ vs. Indexes); Ability achievement discrepancy determination (simple difference vs. Predicted difference); Significance levels for confidence bands and VIQ-PIQ differences; Headers and Footers are included. Users are also given the option to change the classification labels attached to certain IQ ranges (i.e., 80-89 = Low average could be changed to 80-89 = Below Average).

The manual was useful for understanding how to use the program but especially so for understanding decisions made by the program in the development of the interpretive report. Chapter 2, Interpretive Rationale, was an easy to understand description of the decision making algorithms used by the program. The rationale is similar to, yet different from, that proposed by Alan Kaufman in Intelligent Testing With the WISC-III. It should be noted that the Macintosh and DOS versions of this program do not allow the option of substituting Symbol Search for Coding (a la Kaufman) but the Windows version does.

Inputting of scores is done on separate WISC-III and WIAT pages. If the dates between testing exceed a certain time, the program warns the user in the printout about the validity of interpreting such results. The computer converts the inputted scores (raw or scaled) into scaled scores and percentile ranking. The computer generates a prorated Verbal and/or Performance IQ after 4 subtests from the appropriate scale are entered. (Will this result in people creating "short form" IQs without understanding the technical properties of them?) In order to see interpretive information concerning indices and subtest score strengths and/or weaknesses, users must create a report. The input screens are not interpretive. Within the report, subtest strengths and weaknesses are developed always using the separate Verbal and Performance test means. Critical values used for developing subtest strengths and weaknesses are from the average of all ages in the standardization sample. If the program chooses to interpret the VCI or the POI, it does not redo the statistical analysis to report strengths and weaknesses within those indexes. The printout reports all scores in the body of the narrative as standard scores, percentiles, and confidence ranges. The descriptive categories given are for the obtained score only, (i.e., A child obtaining a FS IQ of 89 would be classified with the words "Low Average" although the range would be Low Average to Average). The option to compute "Shared-Ability Composites" is available. Groupings hypothesized by Bannatyne, Horn, Dean, Kaufman, and Prifitera & Dersh are printed as standard score conversions and identified as being a strength or a weakness. Instructions and cautions about their use are included in the manual.

An extremely useful feature of this program is the option to generate a "Clinical Review" before printing out the final report. These reviews offer the interpreter rationale for the decisions made by the program as well as additional information for the evaluator (i.e., base rate for obtained V-P difference) not included in the final report.

Printing the report was easily accomplished. Options for printing the entire report or individual pages of it are given in the print alert window.

Pros: Only program that allows the inputting of raw scores. Allows for extensive error checking. Provides analysis and interpretation of both the WISC-III and the WIAT. Extensive options for individualizing the report. Contradictory statements are guarded against. It is the only commercial program currently available for a Mac.

Cons: For those wanting to substitute Symbol Search for Coding, only the Windows version has that option. The ability to change Wechsler classification categories and still be able to print out a report with the Psychological Corporation's name on it seems dangerous. Limited to WISC-III and WIAT (although since it is a totally editable text writer, the user can directly add on to the report before printing).

(Top of page)

Psych Report Writer Version 4.1: Psych Support Systems, $199, Available for IBM.

The Psych Report Writer is a user-friendly program which attempts to interpret results from a wide assortment of commonly used tests, including the Wechsler Scales (WPPSI-R, WISC-III, WISC-R, WAIS-R), the Kaufman tests (K-ABC, K-BIT, KAIT), and the Stanford-Binet Fourth Edition. The program also has the capability of "hooking up" to the WJ-R Cognitive and Achievement tests through the separate Compuscore program. The Psych Report Writer also has the capability of incorporating into the report results from visual motor tests, the Goodenough-Harris Draw-A-Man test, and adaptive and independent behavior scales. This information, along with test session behavioral observations can be recorded on the Psych Report Writer's Computer Data Sheet. These sheets are then used to transfer the obtained scores to the computer at a convenient time. (While it seems a helpful addition to the software package, the data sheet was found to be somewhat incomplete. For example, the WISC-III Processing Speed Index is missing, the WJ-R Cognitive Test and the WIAT are absent from the page, and only 7 out of 21 subtests are listed under the WJ-R Achievement heading. A spelling error was found under the K-ABC Achievement Test heading, with a subtest listed as "Reading/Understading").

The Psych Report Writer provides options for determining ability/achievement discrepancies using either the "Federal LD Discrepancy Formula" (achievement scores greater than 1.5 standard deviations below the IQ scores are identified as significant), or the "Indiana LD Discrepancy Model" (a regression method which uses the correlations between the IQ and Achievement tests to predict achievement scores). With either formula, the user is able to change the criterion level each time the program is run.

Users will find the program easy to install, and the manual quite helpful. Help options are also available on-screen. The program was easy to navigate with the tab button or the spacebar, however, the mouse cannot be used to simply "click" on the area(s) of interest. The user can review/edit the report before printing, and can set preferences for the header.

The Psych Report Writer does not contain any of the normative data for the tests it interprets and therefore cannot compute the exact IQs (Verbal, Performance, Full Scale, Crystallized, Fluid, Composite, BCA), Index Factor Scores, or Cognitive Ability Clusters. The program provides little or no error-checking for the scores inputted. If an examiner accidentally inputs an incorrect score, the program simply accepts the number and bases interpretation on it. For example, upon entering high scaled scores on the WAIS-R, the Psych Report Writer included in the report indications of Superior to Very Superior abilities on Perceptual Organization and Verbal Comprehension Factors, and yet reported that the subject would "be expected to perform at a level which is significantly lower than same aged peers." It's obvious that these types of results conflict, and the reason for this is that the 'bottom line' recommendation was based directly on the Full Scale IQ, which was entered as zero. Also interesting was that this subject's corresponding classification was listed as "Profoundly Retarded", a term which is not among Wechsler's classifications of intellectual ability.

A number of major errors in interpretation were noted by these reviewers on the Kaufman Adolescent and Adult Intelligence Test (KAIT). The scores inputted are reported at 90% confidence, with the confidence interval for the Composite Score given as a band of ± 8 points, while the KAIT manual provides 90% confidence bands of ± 4 points. More disconcerting was the error related to the development of strengths and weaknesses. The manual for the KAIT makes it clear that the means used for determining significant subtest strengths and weaknesses are to be derived from the sum of 3 Crystallized and 3 Fluid subtests. This is true whether or not the supplemental subtests are given. As stated in the KAIT manual, "The Crystallized and Fluid IQs are based on the three Core subtests whether or not the Expanded Battery is administered" (page 42). During our review, the program consistently gave erroneous means, and thus erroneous strengths and weaknesses, for the cases we examined. Additionally, in one case, the program reported a subtest as a "relative strength" even though it happened to be the lowest score entered. The KAIT interpretation also provides a list of "shared abilities." These did not conform to those in the KAIT manual, occasionally leaving out a subtest that made up the grouping, and consistently creating means that did not match the subtests listed. Another problem concerned the interpretation of significant differences between immediate and delayed memory scaled scores for both Rebus and Auditory Learning. While a discrepancy of four points between the scores was seen as significant at the .01 level, and a discrepancy of three points was seen as significant at the .05 level, significant differences were not reported when the delayed recall subtest score was higher than the immediate recall subtest score. In one case there was a 7 point difference between the relevant scores, yet the program noted that this "was not significant at the .05 confidence level." No rationale is given for this uni-directional mode of significance reporting. One further problem was that users are able to enter scores well over any reasonable limit (300), and even worse, are able to enter such inflated IQs along with below average subtest scaled scores. (Users of this program must check carefully all interpretive findings. These reviewers found serious errors on the KAIT interpretations but did not analyze every possible output and test available from this program).

Again, users are cautioned to examine these reports thoroughly for errors. While no spelling errors were found on the printouts, they were found on-screen ("WAIS-R Age Corected Scaled Scores), and in the manual ("SELECT INTELLEIGENCE TEST", Figure 2.4f). Ultimately the user must be held responsible for the accuracy and spelling on these reports.

Further cautions: In determining discrepancies between IQ and Achievement Tests, the examiner is unable to change the level of statistical significance used (this program is set for 90% confidence). The program comes packaged with 82 "Remediation files", although the extensiveness and current applicability of each is questionable. For instance, remediations are available for students who obtain low scores on any of the WISC-III subtests (except Symbol Search). It is unclear why specialized service is required for children with single, low subtest scores, and even more unclear as to why professionals treating children with low Block Design scores would be recommended to use the following remediation: "more time should be used when introducing new materials to a child with this disability" (bold added). In this same remediation file, practitioners are also cautioned that "such a child tends to learn piecemeal". Furthermore, in a remediation file designed to address poor anger control in students, judgmental and even possibly sexist remarks were found. "When the inability to control anger is not rooted in organic factors, it stems, of course, from family malpractice. Two aspects of the mother's behavior must be watched:..." (bold added). No mention of the father's role is made in this remediation report.

(Top of page)

Kaufman WISC-III Integrated Interpretive System (K-WIIS), version 1. Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc. $425.00

The WISC-III Integrated Interpretive System (K-WIIS) was developed in conjunction with Alan and Nadeen Kaufman and follows closely the interpretive methods outlined in "Intelligent Testing with the WISC-III". The software package comes with computer disks, a manual, and 3 separate checklists which can be used in conjunction with the program. The checklists (Background Information, Physical Observations, and Behaviors Observed During Administration of the WISC-III Subtests) allow the examiner to record basic information during the testing session that will later be transferred into the report. The computer screens mimic the checklists and make entry very simple. Within the program, it is possible to check contradictory observations. (Checking that the mother reported no health problems while pregnant will not prevent one from also checking that she had diabetes, high blood pressure, and toxemia). While running the program, on screen help is accessible at any time and supported by the trouble shooting section in the manual. There is also a 1-800 number listed in the manual for technical support which is available during business hours. The program was user friendly for all levels of computer users. Those unfamiliar with an IBM DOS based program will still have no real problem using the program. Navigation through the program was accomplished easily by either using the mouse or key strokes.

Although the basic function for this program is to interpret the WISC-III results, users are able to enter up to 16 achievement cluster/subtest scores and to compute discrepancies between them and the WISC-III IQs and Indexes. Any achievement score entered must be expressed as scores with a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of ±15. The program will determine both simple and regression based ability/achievement differences. User must supply the reliability coefficient value for the test they wish compared. Information regarding ability/achievement discrepancies is not given in the body of the report, only in the tables appended to the narrative report. Users can set program preferences for confidence intervals, significance levels, and for substituting Digit Span for Arithmetic and/or Symbol Search for Coding. K-WIIS produces a narrative report based on user entered observations, scaled scores, IQ scores, and achievement scores. Recommendations are supplied by both the user and the program. A graph of the individuals reported scores is available, but must be chosen by the user. There is limited error checking (certain ranges for scaled scores and IQs). The program assumes that the user is error free when entering the data. For example, it allowed a Full Scale IQ of 42, a Performance IQ of 90, and a Verbal IQ of 78 to be entered without warning. This could happen by striking the wrong key on the key pad, resulting in an improper report. Text files of commonly used information can be save in a "Library" file and used in subsequent reports by simply copy and pasting the items. Headers and Footers for the report can be altered to suit the users needs. No spell checking abilities are available within the program itself (a few errors were found during this review) but an option does allow the user to save the report in a specified word processing format and edit the report there.

Pros: Allows for the option of substituting Symbol Search for Coding and Digit Span for Arithmetic. Extensive choices for individualizing the report. Review of the final report can be accomplished on screen before printing and can be saved as a text file to be opened by word processing software. Software package comes with hard copies of the checklists which can filled out prior to running the program. Can be run from DOS or Windows.

Cons: Lack of extensive error checking. Is limited only to the WISC-III. The Mazes subtest is not included at all in the program. No achievement interpretation or narrative in the report.

(Top of page)

QuickWriter Version 1.1d, Ewing Solutions, $249, IBM 386 or newer, Windows 95, Windows 3.1

QuickWriter was easily loaded onto the computer and ran well. Without having read the manual first, we were able to quickly and easily create reports. This report writing program provides a comprehensive psychological report. The reports are generated by choosing options from the "Main Menu" window. This window provides 12 choice buttons, each representing some aspect of the resulting report. After entering a new student's background information or selecting a previously saved case, the user navigates the program by simply clicking the mouse on any of the buttons (keystroke navigation is also available but less desirable). The navigation buttons take the user to screens that offer from one to 6 tabbed sublevels. For example, clicking on the "TEST MENU" button brings the user to a screen with 4 tabbed choices: Test Session Observation (with 6 more submenus), Intellectual (6 submenus), Academic-Adaptive (7 submenus), and Developmental-Visual Motor-Other (6 submenus). Each choice provides numerous check boxes (for multiple statement choices) and/or radio buttons (for choosing mutually exclusive options). Many of the screens also include an active text field in which the user can enter their own statements or comments. This was an extremely attractive option for this program. The program does not allow for on screen editing or viewing of the final report. Reports are either saved to disk, printed, or automatically exported to a word processing program the user specifies.

The QuickWriter provides 3 options for determining ability/achievement discrepancies: a "Standard formula" simple difference method (ability/achievement difference scores greater than a user entered cut-off are identified as significant), a "Federal formula" (a z-score transformation with user defined discrepancy requirements), and the "Arizona formula ( regression method which uses the correlations between the IQ and Achievement tests to predict achievement scores).

No determination of a child's subtest strength or weakness is made by the program. Most interpretive statements simply describe the global scores obtained. More interpretive statements were generated for the WISC-III than any of the other tests available in the report.

We did note one major error and a number of minor problems/errors/discrepancies in the program. The major error involved the interpretation of the WISC-III scores. A statement about the validity of the measured cognitive ability is reported by determining if there is a significant difference between the Verbal Comprehension (VCI) and Freedom from Distractibility (FDI) Indexes. It was found that instead of comparing the score on the FDI to the VCI, the program incorrectly compares the Processing Speed index to the VCI. There are a number of times in the program where, if using the tab key, certain choices are skipped. In the Intervention window, an entire column is missed when using the tab key. A number of the allowable multichoice statements seemed contradictory and might have been better grouped together with radio buttons. For example, a child's report can conceivably state "Ron is a male with blond, brown, black, red, auburn, fair-haired and dyed hair and blue eyes." A number of spelling errors were noted, most disconcerting was the spelling of Wechsler as Weschler. If one chooses the WAIS-R, there is no instruction about the use of Age Scaled Scores vs. Scaled Scores. The WAIS-R also allows for entering a score on the MAZES subtest! Missing from the Intellectual assessment choices was the Woodcock-Johnson-Cognitive. There was little error checking of the scores inputted. Subtest scores over 19 and IQ scores up to 999 were allowed.

The manual was not particularly helpful for this program. On the one hand, the program is so user friendly there does not appear to be much need for the manual. The manual might better serve if it included more detailed discussion about the decision making processes used in the interpretive narratives.

(Top of page)

Educational Applications of the WISC-III (EAW3) V2.003, Western Psychological Services, $249, IBM with Windows 3.x

This particular program differs the most from the others reviewed because it does not generate 'typical' narrative reports. The program's focus is to "complement the detailed discussion of WISC-III results presented in "Educational Applications of the WISC-III: A Handbook of Interpretive Strategies and Remedial Recommendations" authored by Charles Nicholson and Charles Alcorn. Installation was simple and flawless. A manual is provided on the disk so that a person wishing may either read it on screen or print it out for reading. The manual explains the basics necessary for installing and using the program but does not provide any explanations for decisions made within the program. Users wishing this information must purchase the "Handbook." Use of the tab key to navigate from entry to entry was easy, and the mouse can be used to point and click into an entry field. Data for the 3 IQs, 4 Indexes, and 13 subtests of the WISC-III are entered as standard or scaled scores. If an achievement test was administered the results of that test can be entered. Although the program has options for choosing 1 of 7 Achievement tests (including the misnamed WIAT-R), the entries for achievement scores do not differ. Users may enter only Reading, Math, and Spelling scores. The program reports all entered IQ and Index scores as single values with no confidence intervals. Comparisons between IQ and academic achievement display standard score differences for VIQ and PIQ only. The program also provides the "Estimated Mental Age and Expected Grade Equivalent (GE) Achievement Level". A theoretical GE Achievement Level at Age 16 is also reported.

The completed "Professional Report", unlike all others reviewed, consisted of two columns of text. The narrative describes each subtest, the appropriate scaled score, and a descriptive classification of the child's performance (for example: low, high, good, fair). Each subtest is described as if it had measured a separate, unique skill as opposed to being thought of as a part of a total battery. No attempt is made to describe any of the scores as being significantly higher or lower than the mean of the test. Instead each receives its descriptive category based on its absolute value in a scale of 1 to 19. (The "Handbook" does provide a description of how one might go about determining subtest strengths and weaknesses, but the way this is done is different than most other programs: Determine the mean of the separate scales, round the results to a whole number, and determine a S/W based on subtests being ±2 points away from the mean). Next a description of IQ and Index Scores is provided. Each score is reported as an obtained score with no confidence intervals noted and no ranges reported. If there is a 15 point difference between the scales, the program provides descriptions of possible reasons for such differences. No mention of base rate is made. Index scores are next reported, whether they are relevant or not and whether or not the scores that make them up differ significantly. The Freedom from Distractibility and Processing Speed Indexes are given solitary descriptions ("ability to concentrate" and "ability to complete timed activity involving the use of nonverbal information"). If an achievement test has been administered, the program compares both the standard score and grade equivalent to the Verbal, Performance and Full Scale IQ standard score and "expected grade level based on" the respective IQ. (The Mathematics achievement score is alternately called an "arithmetic" and "mathematics" score in the narrative, even if it is Math Computation, Math Reasoning, or a Math Broad cluster score). Finally, the narrative report provides descriptions of up to 33 "Significant Factors." A caution is given about the validity of these factors and if more than 4 factors are 'evident', the program provides a warning to check the scoring of the WISC-III and the entry of data into the program. At the end of the professional report, the program prints a set of "Remedial Recommendations" based solely on the age of the child tested and a perceived weakness (low score) on a particular subtest. Interpretive descriptions, recommended procedures, and suggested materials from various vendors are printed for each suspected weakness.

Changes to the data can be made up to the point of selecting "Complete" from the menu choices. Special procedures are necessary to modify data from a completed report. No text editing is available in the program itself. Files can be saved for editing by a word processing program. There are a limited number of configuration options. The program lacks any ability to set and/or report confidence ranges, to set or report significance levels, and to set or report subtest strengths or weaknesses. Some error checking is available, but it is limited and confusing. If you have inadvertently entered a scaled score that is beyond the range of 19, the program, when you choose "Complete", displays a warning "Too many scores have been skipped" or "Too many scores are out of range". The program does not indicate which score or scores are out or range. The user must review each individual score for correctness.

Although the program was easy to use, its practical relevance is questioned. The interpretive rationale for this program seems to lack much validity. The program's focus on interpreting the exact score obtained instead of the score in relationship to all scores obtained seemed a bit dated. The lack of base rate information, confidence levels (90 or 95%); the lack of confidence bands on global scores; the use of Mental Age and Grade Equivalents all raise concerns about the use of such a program by school psychologists.

(Top of page)

Report Writer for the WJ-R, Riverside Publishing Company, $348, IBM and Macintosh

The Report Writer for the WJ-R was easily installed onto the Macintosh computers. Entering data (raw scores) was simple and very similar to that of the WJ-COMPUSCORE that anyone using the WJ-R is probably familiar. Moving from screen to screen by clicking on large icon buttons, the user enters various data or chooses various options: background information, raw scores for any of the 21 cognitive subtest and 14 achievement subtest (both forms A and B are available), norms based on age or grade, aptitude/ability achievement discrepancies (choices ranged from 1.3 to 2.3 SD (SEE) Discrepancy), report options of Standard, Customized, or Summary and Table of Scores. With every possible option chosen, the program created a 17 page report that included extensive narrative and a number of pages of score tables. Standard error checking is provided as the user enters raw scores. On screen descriptions provide subtest name and raw score range.

The report is capable of providing detailed descriptions of each test, cluster, and subtest given. Scores are reported in the narrative as grade equivalents, percentile ranks, standard scores, and classification descriptions. In the narrative section of the report, scores are reported as obtained scores with no confidence ranges added. Within the printout for "Table of Scores", the standard scores are reported with 68% confidence bands. There is no option within the program to change these levels to 90 or 95% confidence bands. If cluster scores differ significantly from one another, or if the subtests that make up a cluster differ significantly, the program notes the differences, but gives no plausible explanation for these differences. This was true throughout the program. No real "interpretation" of the scores is made, only the placing of the appropriate scores within the suitable narrative is done. It appeared to these reviewers that the emphasis on reporting grade- and age-equivalents over the more 'appropriate' standard scores, as well as the limitation of 68% confidence intervals, is unfortunate

The program does provide on screen editing once the program has generated a report. No spell checking capability is incorporated although it was simple to copy and paste the completed report into a word processing program and spell check it from there. (There were no spelling errors found during this review with the exception of some questionable use of words: The report produced the following sentence "Word attack measures Ron's ability in applying phonic and structural analysis skills to the pronunciation of phonically regular nonsense words." [BOLD ADDED].

One draw back to the report writer is the lack of graphs that show error bands for each cluster and each subtest that makes up a cluster (similar to those provided with the PROFILES program of COMPUSCORE). These graphs would be useful in determining relevant differences between clusters and within clusters.

Once a report is customized and displayed or printed, you may not go back and re-customize choices without reloading the appropriate case and starting over again. This is not so much a problem as a time consuming process. There is no capability to save as a report as a text file.

This program works only with the Woodcock tests. If the Woodcock Cognitive is given, the only achievement scores and comparison available is to the Woodcock achievement.

This program does a wonderful job for the tasks it is designed to do. The biggest limitation of the program is the interpretations given. The program does a good job developing narrative reports but the reports lack any true interpretation. No effort to describe meaningful differences between clusters or subtest s are made and no real hypothesis generation is made.

(Top of page)

Bottom Line

Although all the reports are editable in one way or another and do, to differing degrees, contain error checking, these authors did find significant differences between the programs' rationale and output. Each program, in its own right, offers comparable yet differing levels of interpretation; completeness of reports; and number of tests available for interpretation. Practitioners will want to assess their own individual needs when choosing among these programs. For example, only the WISC-III Writer (TCP) and the Report Writer for the WJ-R offers a program that can convert the raw scores to scaled scores for the appropriate tests, but these programs are limited to the WISC-III and WIAT and WJ-R Cognitive and Achievement respectively. The Ewing and Psychological Support Systems programs offer the most comprehensive number of tests allowable, but often do so at the expense of real interpretive and accurate statements. For devotees of Alan Kaufman's method of interpretation, his KWIIS is a good choice, but it too is limited. The most accurate test results were found in programs published by the companies that also publish the respective tests, but they are typically limited to those single tests. (It should also be noted that these reviewers discovered a mistake in the 'Shared Abilities' report created by the KAIT-ASSIST program published by AGS.) For a program that offers multiple tests, the Ewing program provides a large number of option in an attractive, easy to use program. The EAW3 is very different from most of the programs reviewed, both in the interpretive methods used and the format of the report. Users of this program should understand and agree with the Nicholson and Alcorn analysis that is reported. (The first author has major concerns about the accuracy and validity of this method).

No matter what program a school psychologist chooses, the user is ultimately responsible, both legally and ethically, for the reports generated. Each program has, either in the manual or in the program itself, a disclaimer to the user about this point.

These reviews, comments and opinions are those of the authors and may not reflect that of NASP, the editorial board of the Communiqué, and/or the affiliations of the authors.

(Top of page)