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WIAT-II Reading Comprehension Changes and Comment

I just received a package from The Psychological Corporation, including a nice letter from Lawrence G. Weiss, Ph.D., Director of Research and Development, five copies of a new Reading Comprehension Record Form, and a mini-manual, Administering and Calculating Conversion Scores for Reading Comprehension.  

"In response to customer feedback . . . we concluded that for a small percentage of lower-functioning individuals, an even stricter degree of precision in measuring achievement would aid psychologists in evaluating performance for these clients . . . . we rigorously applied these new procedures to actual cases to confirm the validity of the modification." 

They will send out new manuals and replacement software to all purchasers.  We can download "additional copies of the Reading Comprehension subtest record form" from http://www.PsychCorp.com or order them from 1-800-872-1726.  "These forms may be photocopied."  New orders of record forms "will incorporate the new  . . . scoring procedures." 

They report that

"examiners believe the scores of some students who reverse may be too low, while the scores of some students who remain in their grade set may be too high.  Although these situations occur very infrequently in the standardization sample [My (JOW) note: probably just about as infrequently as severe reading disabilities occur in the general population.], the experience of practitioners has led us to find an improved method to minimize these situations. . . . The improvement involves norming each grade set as a separate form of the subtest.  Thus, the new scoring procedure does not make any assumptions about a student's performance on preceding, unadministered items.  Further, there is now no assumption that the scores of students who take an earlier grade set must be lower than [those of] examinees who did not reverse." 

[I (JOW) would surmise they used Item Response Theory to make item blocks like those on the DAS, WJ III Writing Samples, etc.  See Embretson, S. E., & Hershberger, S. L. (Eds.) (1999). The new rules of measurement: What every psychologist and educator should know.  (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.); Embretson, S. E., & Reise, S. P. (2000).  Item response theory for psychologists. (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.); and Elliott, C. D. (1990).  Differential Ability Scales introductory and technical handbook.  (San Antonio: The Psychological Corporation.).] 

"There are no changes to administration procedures, but there are two small changes to the scoring procedure.  first, when you calculate the student's total raw score it is based only on the grade set administered.  No constant is added. . . .  Second, before obtaining the standard score in the norms tables, you must convert the total raw score to a weighted raw score . . . with a conversion table . . . .  Then you convert the weighted raw score to a standard score.  As always, use the norm set for the grade in which the student is enrolled, regardless of what grade set was administered. . . . Tell parents that the test publisher improved the procedures for scoring the test.  The new score is more accurate" [emphasis mine].

"You should not adjust the starting point. . . .  For all students, we strongly recommend that you begin the assessment with the item set for the student's currently assigned grade or the most recently completed grade if the student is on break between grades. . . .  If the student obtains zero raw score points on all the grade-specific reversal items, apply the appropriate reversal rule.  If the student correctly answers at least one of the grade-specific reversal items, continue administering the grade-appropriate item set. . . .  If you are certain that the student will be unable to correctly answer any of the grade-specific reversal items, you may apply the reverse rule.  This may be done to spare the examinee frustration or failure on the first few items.  But, be sure to apply the reverse rule according to the directions on the record form.  Do not administer the subtest in a nonstandardized manner.  Scores obtained by nonstandard administration of item sets are not valid, as they do not represent the best possible estimate of that student's reading comprehension skills.  If you have any questions, please call . . . 1-800-872-1726, extension 8143."

I (JOW) tested a 12-year-old student in an ungraded school.  Taking a wild guess that he would have attended readiness and been retained once, I decided he might have been in fifth grade, and I applied the reversal rule back to item 10 (grade 2 start) sight unseen because I was quite "certain that the student [would] be unable to correctly answer any of the [fifth-] grade-specific reversal items."  He was able to answer four of the five grade-specific reversal items correctly at the second-grade starting point at which we arrived by following the reversal rule for grade five.  However, I did also administer the first-grade items because I wanted to see him read at a level where he was not struggling.  Here are his scores by age norms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old

New

 

Start

Stop

Items

Score

Gr. 1

Gr. 2

Gr. 1

Gr. 2

 

Gr. 1

 

  1-  9

14/14

14/14

  [14]

14/14

 

 

Gr. 2

 

10-19

13/16

13/16

 13/16

13/16

13/16

 

Gr. 3

Gr. 1

20-27

  1/14

  1/14

   1/14

  1/14

  1/14

 

 

 

28-33

  1/12

 

   1/12

 

  1/12

 

Gr. 4

gr. 2

34-44

  0/18

 

   0/18

 

  0/18

 

Total raw score

28/44

 29/74

28/44

15/60

 

Weighted raw score

 

 

83

65

 

Age Standard Score  (90%)

40 5

40 5

52 5

44 5

 

Grade Equivalent

1.7

1.7

1.8

1.1

His Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests-Revised/NU scores (90% confidence) were:

            Word Identification                   62 (60 65)     g.e. 2.0

Word Attack                            69 (63 75)     g.e. 1.6

Passage Comprehension           62 (56 67)     g.e. 1.8

It appears that the second-grade start was about right, given the pattern of hits and misses.  However, the 52 standard score seems to match the WRMT-R/NU and teacher reports more accurately than the 44 (or the old-norms 40).  The new grade-equivalent score (vile statistic that it is) of 1.1 seems ridiculous from any standpoint.

Now, suppose I had assumed that the student would have been in the age-appropriate grade 7.  I would have administered the seventh/eighth grade starting point items, gotten a zero score on them, dropped back three starting points to the fourth grade starting point, again gotten zero, dropped back to the first grade starting point and gotten the standard score of  52 (47 57) and the grade equivalent of 1.8.

Another student, age 11, was placed in grade five.  These are his Reading Comprehension scores by age norms.

 

Start

Stop

Items

Score

Old

New

 

 

 

 

 

[90/90]

 

 

Gr. 5

 

55-58

  7/ 8

   7/8

   7/8

 

Gr. 6

Gr. 4

59-69

14/18

 14/18

 14/18

 

 

 

70-74

 6/10

   6/10

   6/10

 

Gr. 7/8

Gr. 5

75-85

 6/18

   6/18

   6/18

 

Total raw score

123/144

 33/54

 

Weighted raw score

 

132

 

Age Standard Score  (90%)

1036

1086

 

Grade Equivalent

5.9

7.0

 

The standard score goes up 5 points, and the grade-equivalent score goes up 1.1 years!  I am glad I don't use grade-equivalent scores.  However, by grade norms [Fall of grade 5 (the Fall/Winter/Spring demarcations can be found on p. 40 of the Examiner's Manual)], the standard score is 109 by both the old and new norms, even though the grade-equivalent score changed by 1.1 years.

However, a third student (not tested by me) was given identical scores of 92 (Fall of grade 6 norms) by both the old and new scoring systems.  I would appreciate reports of scores on the old and new scoring systems.