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New Tests of Cognitive and Learning Abilities

by Dr.Scott A. Howard, Director, Howard Learning Assessment Services, in Masssachusetts and New Hampshire
The proliferation of psychological tests seems to at times rival the introduction of new computer products or electronics. With the introduction of new tests come the task of discriminating the glitzy new model from the substantive and truly useful tools for assessing cognitive and per-sonality functioning.

Recently, a number of new tests that truly deliver in terms of the quality and kind of information they provide has emerged. Although the WISC-IV was introduced a little over three years ago, a new extended battery entitled the Integrated WISC-IV has just been released by the The Psychological Corporation. This battery is truly useful in that it provides much more information about the kind of problem solving abilities and skills a child has at his or her disposal. It achieves this by including sixteen different process oriented subtests that use a multiple choice format along with prompts and probes to obtain more information about problem solving styles. This battery also utilizes new and supplemental subtests looking at how a child’s strengths and needs may be having an impact on their functioning. When evaluating children whose performance on standardized tests often falls below their potential, this kind of approach is of course extremely valuable. Not surprisingly Dr. Edith Kaplan who pioneered the process approach in Neuropsychology is responsible for the development of this test, along with a number of other esteemed colleagues.

The development and release of the Wechsler Nonverbal Scale of Ability, is another test that shows great promise in terms of being more sensitive to the needs of children and adolescents whose primary language may be other than English. This battery is also valuable for students who have physical or neuropsychological limitations that interfere with their ability to use language to respond to directives. This includes autistic, aphasic and multiply handicapped children and adolescents with developmental delays. The Wechsler Nonverbal Scale of Ability is also ideal for assessing the skills of recent immigrants as well as children with auditory processing or limited hearing abilities.

The Awareness of Social Inference Test is another fairly recently developed task that endeavors to systematically assess the deficits in social awareness in many different psychiatric, neurological and learning disabled populations. This of course is useful for children and adolescents who show symptoms of Autism or Aspergers Disorders, but is also valuable to further assess the social pragmatic difficulties exhibited by those who are diagnosed with non-verbal learning disabilities. Both the Awareness of Social Inference Test as well as the Wechsler Nonverbal Scale of Ability can be obtained by contacting the Psychological Corporation.

Lastly the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing is a recently developed battery whose success at providing more information about older adolescents and adults is quite welcome. The norms for this test go up to age 24, which is at least six years greater than any previously normed test of phonological awareness and functioning. In addition to its increased ceiling in terms of age, the CTOPP also provides quite valuable information about phonological awareness, phonological memory and rapid naming skills. These core abilities form the triad of skills often found to be impaired in the protocols of individuals with Phonological Dyslexia. This test is distributed by Psychological Assessment Resources as well as Western Psychological Services.

Dr. Scott A. Howard, PhD, is the director of Howard Learning Assessment Services, a comprehensive diagnostic center devoted to the evaluation and treatment of attention, learning and memory disorders located in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. He can be reached at: 10001, 978-465-2999, email:, or online at:

© copyright 2008 Scott A. Howard, Psy.D.

Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.


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