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DAS-II Quick Commentary

I have given about 10 DAS-II by now and every time I give one I think of Gene Autry singing "Back in the saddle again." I gave it to a 4 year old who was very bright and after about 45 minutes of testing I told her we were all done. She said "Cant we play some more?" She has been back (she is a neighbor's child) and every time she has been back she asks if we can do the "games" again. I love that the kids taking the test enjoy themselves. I have given several school age levels, and they flow wonderfully - as they did with the DAS.    

I am not yet comfortable with the Phonological subtest because I don't get phonology well myself. I always thought that cat had two sounds "kah" and "t". I have always had a problem with phonological tests, so I was pleased as punch (or was it judy) that Colin has included a training CD that has the subtest words correctly sounded out. The CD also gives demonstration movies of administering the test using American Sign Language, and the manual provides instructions for administering the nonverbal subtests in Spanish.    

There is a computer scoring program, but I would advise against reliance on it. It is important that DAS users understand how to get the results on their own, and the program itself - at least in my opinion, is quirky and a pain. Having to click through the item sets (even when for some subtests there is only one possible choice - couldn't it be set as a default?), and then entering the raw score, seems like a waste of time. You can do that easily yourself on the record form. Use the computer program to check your work and maybe to import the results into your word processor - but don't use it to score the test. I have always thought that that is the responsibility of the examiner. It is nice to have the computer look up the T scores etc, but the printout is a bit quirky too. It reports significance differently in different areas of the printout and it reports subtests in an odd sequence. Everything that the computer can do, you can do, so don't rely on it alone. Be sure you can find every number that the computer spits out so you can explain them yourself.    

If you have given a DAS, learning the DAS-II will be very easy. If you haven't given a DAS, you will need to take the time to learn it well. It is very different (better?) from most cognitive tests. Most people who I have spoken to say that once they learn the DAS (and the same will probably be true for the DAS-II) they wonder why they ever give some of the other tests.    

The DAS-II now offers a working memory composite, a processing speed composite, and for younger ages, a school readiness composite. Some of the interpretation procedures at first seem daunting (e.g., comparing ability score SEMs to determine significant differences) but once you have done it once, the procedures turn out to be very simple. Interpretation seems very simple if one knows and understands Gf-Gc theory. The test now has Gc (Verbal), Gf (Nonverbal reasoning), Gv (Spatial), Glr (Recall of Objects immediate and delayed), Gsm (Recall of Digits Forward and backward), Gs (Speed of info processing and Rapid naming), and Ga (Phonological processing). It has a new school readiness composite made up of early number concepts, matching letter-like forms, and phonological processing. The test dropped the 3 achievement screening tests, but is co-normed with the WIAT-II and the manual offers evidence for a comparison between the DAS-II and the WJ III.    

The DAS-II kit may be heavy (sold in a suitcase with wheels), but imagine how heavy it would be to carry a WPPSI-II, WISC-IV, and WAIS-III at the same time. The DAS-II covers ages 2:6 to 17:11, so it effectively covers the 3 Wechsler's. If you know the age of the child to be tested, you don't need the entire suitcase. A school aged child can be tested with 4 blocks, a manual, two booklets, and a recall card.    

One must be careful when scoring the test because the transfer of raw score to ability score to T score can seem cumbersome. Sometimes the subtest order doesn't match the manual (Recall of Objects is embedded within the core sequence) and sometime the subtest listing on the profile page of the record form don't match the sequence where you have entered the ability and T scores (this was done, I think, to keep subtests grouped with their composites). As with the old DAS, one can sometimes administer several item sets (blocks) and you have to read the manual carefully to understand what to do (page 39 explains it well). Be aware that if you are a new DAS user, don't get confused by figure 2.11 on page 43. It is an error and does not depict the basal and ceiling rule it is meant to explain.    

Scoring of Copying and Recall of Designs takes time to do correctly until you have learned the rules. The explanations in the manual help, but a few are mislabeled. Don't let that stop you. Once you get the hang of it the scoring goes very quickly and easily.    

I have given one workshop so far (with the invitation of a wonderful Psych Corp rep -Sherry Eyers) and I think it went well. Folks seem eager to learn about the new test. Hopefully the test will pick up where it left off and people will start trying the test and using it regularly.    

John and I have scheduled one workshop in NH and will hopefully be doing more. We will be updating our web site soon to include the DAS-II. We are working on an interpretive template that we will also be posting on our web site in the near future.    

John Willis, Colin Elliott, and I will also (hopefully when negotiations are formalized) be writing the Essential DAS-II for Dr. Kaufman's Wiley Essential series.

Ron


I have given the DAS-II "for real" once. Like Carol, I found that the core and some of the old diagnostic subtests were not dramatically different. It is, of course, essential to be alert to small changes to avoid negative transfer of training on details (e.g., first trial on picture recall is now 45 rather than 60 seconds), but the fundamental structure and the basics are the same.  

I very much liked the addition of digits backwards (both forward and backward are 2 digits per second) and rapid naming (RAN). I certainly like the idea of the phonology tests. I am not quite sure how much I like some of the items. I need to study them some more. The scoring for the phonology and RAN looks terribly complicated at first glance, but I figured it out all by myself and I am way down the far side of the Gf developmental slope.  

Looks good to me so far, although quibbles are us.  Shameless (but requested) speaker self-promotion: The Association for Specialists in Assessment of Intellectual Functioning (ASAIF) is sponsoring Ron and me in Merrimack, New Hampshire: 5/25/07: Ron Dumont, Ed.D. NCSP & John Willis, Ed.D., SAIF: Differential Ability Scales - Second Edition (DAS-II).

More Information at

http://www.asaif.net/workshops.htm

 or

http://www.asaif.net

and click on the workshops button at the middle of the top of the page. Try the other buttons, too.

John Willis, SAIF