SpLD assessment tools
The list of suitable tests for
the assessment of specific learning difficulties (SpLD) in Higher Education is
a key part of the National Assessment Framework for Applications for Disabled
Students' Allowances. The purpose of the list is to promote quality and
consistency in the Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) process.
[Please note: This list is specifically aimed at students 16 and over. There are a significant number of other assessment materials that will be relevant to younger ages. You should be looking to evaluate them in terms of their reliability, validity, standardisation sample and the area they assess is relevant to your needs.]
STEC [SpLD Test Evaluation Committee]
STEC is a sub-committee of the SPLD Assessment
Standards Committee (SASC). Its purpose
is to provide guidance on assessment materials to SASC. Its responsibilities are:
review and evaluate assessment materials on a regular basis.
revise and update the test recommendations of the SpLD Working Group 2005/DfES
maintain a list of approved assessment materials for SpLDs in higher education.
engage with the publishers and distributors of assessment materials.
carry out other business as advised by and agreed with SASC.
report to SASC on a regular basis, including an annual written report to be
submitted to SASC‘s AGM by the Chair.
STEC is seeking a Psychologist to Join the Committee
We are seeking a psychologist to join the SpLD Test Evaluation Committee who is:
Before considering application it is advisable to view the SASC website, www.sasc.org.uk where documents
relevant to the work of STEC and SASC can be found:
- A registered practitioner with the HCPC
- Chartered (British Psychological Society)
- The SpLD working Group/DfES Guidelines
- Updated Assessment Guidance
- STEC Terms of Reference
If you are interested please send to Hilary Dinham at email@example.com as WORD or PDF documents by the end of June: a full CV at least one anonymised diagnostic report for DSA completed within the last year a brief statement of how you consider you would contribute to the work of STEC evidence of relevant CPD in past three years.
Please download from this page, the Advert for Psychologist for STEC for a full description of the role and application process.
STEC updated guidance and other relevant documents can be accessed from here. Updated guidance has been released, December 2014 and is downloadable from this page. Interim updates are below.
Please share this advice
with colleagues and other stakeholders.
Assessment of Writing Speed
Whilst many assessors find the
various subtests of the Dash 17+ useful, it is important to bear in mind that
this test battery is designed to assess speed of handwriting, rather than speed
of free writing. The DASH 17+ free
writing task is designed to be as undemanding as possible in order to reduce
the impact of any cognitive processing difficulties, such as slow processing
speed and/or weak short term/working memory.
Hence for a Higher Education report many assessors believe this subtest
does not sufficiently challenge the student and will opt to implement a longer
free writing task, one that is subject related and more closely mimics the
demands that will be made on the student at HE level. The words per minute rate can be calculated
and compared to the SpLD Test Evaluation Committee (STEC) expected rate for
undergraduate study, which is 25 wpm, and the work analysed in line with the
guidance given. [update April 2015]
Confirming guidance agreed in October, percentiles can be
used at the discretion of the assessor but are not considered to be mandatory
for APC renewal. If an assessor chooses to
include percentiles in a report, particular care must be taken as they can
magnify small differences within the average range (SS 85-115) which may not be
significant, yet large differences near the outer limits of the average range
can seem reduced. The standard score
must always be given alongside the percentile’ [Update April 2015]
Review of Adult Reading
2014 STEC began to review some of the older tests that have been on the list
for some time with a view to assessing whether or they should still remain on
the list of suitable tests for the assessment of specific learning difficulties
in higher education. This list is referred to by assessors, university disability
services, university examinations departments and Student Finance England to
ensure that diagnostic reports provide valid evidence for reasonable adjustments
and the Disabled Students’ Allowance.
conducts a full review of a test before making any changes to the list. This
Ø the date of standardisation,
Ø the availability of standard, scaled,
composite or other scores for each subtest,
Ø the size and spread of the
Ø whether the presence of SpLD is
identified in a SpLD sample group,
Ø the content, concurrent and construct
validity of the test
Ø and the reliability data.
the case of the ART, concerns were raised about the standardisation of the test
but it was recognised that the test can still be useful for diagnostic
purposes. It was therefore agreed that
ART can still be used, but only qualitatively, and the wording on the Test List
was amended accordingly.
are also reminded of the guidance that precedes the test list, a summary of
which can be found on page 2.
is aware that assessors of students with specific learning difficulties in the
UK are very keen to see UK standardised tests of reading and writing speed,
reading comprehension and reading accuracy suitable for use in a higher
education setting come to the market, particularly if they include a
standardisation sample of students with EAL and/or SpLDs.
was therefore very pleased to hear from the authors of ART that the test is
undergoing a re-standardisation and we look forward to reviewing the newly
published test when it is available. [Update March 2015]
Maintaining test standards.
SASC advises it is best
practice for assessors not to put examples from test papers of errors in
reports at all. Advice for training and assessments should be to not state test items, but only give examples
of types of errors being made. Assessors are also reminded that working papers from assessments
should not be made available as these could affect the standardisation of the
test. [update issued August 2014]
TOMAL 2 [Test of Memory and Learning, 2nd edition]
All 5 subtests of the
Attention/Concentration Index [ACI] should ideally be administered to enable a
fully accurate composite to be calculated.
If for any reason a subtest score has been prorated it would be important
for the assessor to clearly indicate in the report that the ACI score has been
prorated and hence can only be used for a ‘statistical
rather than a clinical purpose’ (TOMAL2 p.59). The manual (p.59) also states ‘Although composites scores that contain a
prorated value may be profiled, a specific prorated subtest standard score
should neither be profiled nor taken as a reflection of an examinee’s memory
performance on the subtest the prorated score represent.’ Consequently, we
would not recommend that the individual subtest prorated score is documented in
the report. [update issued August 2014]
Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence® - Second Edition (WASI®-II) The WASI II
is acceptable for DSA assessments in all areas the WASI I was listed. The WASI
II is an updated version of the assessment battery. The WASI I is still
acceptable as long as the forms are available.
Mastery Tests: 3rd Edition (WRMT-III). Pearson. 5-75+ years
STEC approve the revised edition
of this test battery with the following cautionary note:
In the absence of the
publishers/importers providing (a) a re-standardisation to accommodate UK
culture and normative standards and (b) guidance/substituted materials on
word/picture/phrase substitutions for Americanisms and other cultural features,
STEC advises users to apply the necessary caution when administering the
test. Notwithstanding this point, it is STEC’s view that it considers
this test useful and appropriate to administer for the purposes intended.
response to recent debate about WRIT
of an ability test is to eliminate general learning difficulties and to examine
potential – the WRIT can do both. A comparison between the WRIT and the WAIS is
not particularly helpful as Verbal Analogies and Similarities are not measuring
the same thing. Most people using the WRIT are well aware that there is some
cultural bias as the test was not developed in the UK.
diagnose, people do'. An assessment is a differential diagnosis which uses a
battery of tests to come to a conclusion about strengths and weaknesses and
does not rely on any individual test for a diagnosis. Specialist Dyslexia
Assessors do not only rely on the WRIT scores or a working memory deficit to
make a diagnosis of dyslexia. They use data from other tests and take into
account the verbal abilities of the student throughout the whole assessment
process, noting receptive and expressive language skills. The assessment will
also look at difficulties with working memory, phonological weakness and speed
of processing, literacy weaknesses and specific skills associated with reading
and writing. Additional testing may be carried out if supplementary evidence is
Reference and Minutes of STEC meetings are accessible from the downloads page.