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Identifying a Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses when Assessing Cognitive Processes Milton J. Dehn, Ed.D., NCSP Schoolhouse Educational Services May,

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Presentation on theme: "Identifying a Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses when Assessing Cognitive Processes Milton J. Dehn, Ed.D., NCSP Schoolhouse Educational Services May,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Identifying a Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses when Assessing Cognitive Processes Milton J. Dehn, Ed.D., NCSP Schoolhouse Educational Services May, 2013

2 Notice of Copyright 2013 This PowerPoint presentation and accompanying materials are copyrighted by Schoolhouse Educational Services, LLC and Milton J. Dehn. They are not to be reprinted, copied, or electronically disseminated without written permission. To obtain permission, email

3 Workshop Information Sources Essentials of Processing Assessment, 2 nd Ed. Essentials Children’s Psychological Processes ScaleScale Bibliography in handout Other cited references

4 Workshop Topics 1.Processes to assess 2.Processes and academic skills 3.Neuroanatomy of processes 4.Selective, cross-battery testing 5.Identifying strengths and weaknesses 6.SLD identification using a pattern of strengths and weaknesses 7.Overview of processing interventions

5 What are Psychological Processes? 1.Includes “cognitive” processes 2.Brain processes, operations, functions 3.Any time mental contents are operated on 4.When information is perceived, transformed, manipulated, stored, retrieved, expressed 5.Whenever we think, reason, problem-solve 6.Basic and higher level processes 7.Doesn’t include knowledge or academic skills 8.Learning depends on these processes; they underlie academic skills

6 The Need for Processing Assessment 1.Part of a neuropsychological approach 2.Not just for SLD but Autism, ADHD, TBI, etc. 3.Neuroscience has increased understanding of brain-learning relationships 4.A deficit in a “psychological process” is part of federal and states’ SLD definitions 5.Identification leads to more appropriate interventions

7 Federal & State SLD Criteria 1.SLD is…… “a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes” 2.IDEIA 2004 allows alternative research-based procedures (the third method) 3.Been interpreted as allowing use of a pattern of strengths and weaknesses (PSW) in SLD diagnosis 1.In achievement, cognitive abilities, or psychological processes

8 Processing Assessment Advantages 1.Benefits the learner: better understanding 2.Identifying a processing deficit differentiates SLD & slow learning 3.Identifying processing deficits provides direction for academic interventions

9 Processing and RTI 1.Processing model consistent with problem- solving and early intervention 2.There are evidence-based processing interventions 3.Different processing “causes” of SLD 4.Why do “blind” academic interventions 5.Processing & academic interventions compatible---why they work

10 Characteristics of Psychological Processes to Assess 1.Brain-based 2.Interrelated 3.Necessary for academic learning 4.Both broad and narrow processes 5.Manifestations of processing problems are observable in classroom

11 Processes for SLD Assessment 1.Attention 2.Auditory Processing 3.Executive Functions 4.Fine Motor 5.Fluid Reasoning 6.Long-Term Recall 7.Oral Language 8.Phonological Processing 9.Processing Speed 10.Visual-Spatial Processing 11.Working Memory (WM)

12 Human Processing Limitations 1.Human limitationsHuman limitations 2.Which processes does the chimp excel at?

13 Attention 1.Necessary for learning and memory 2.Attention deficits part of LD 3.Not necessarily ADHD 1.ADHD is more hyperactive/impulsive 2.Inattentive type is more cognitive/learning problems 4.Types: Selective, focused, divided, sustained 5.Problem: attentional control & inhibition 6.Related to Executive Functions and Working Memory

14 Auditory Processing 1.Ability to perceive, analyze, synthesize, and discriminate auditory stimuli, mainly speech 2.Perceiving and comprehending instruction; being able to understand words with background noise

15 Executive Functions 1.Management of cognitive functions and psychological processes 2.Effectiveness depends on self- monitoring, self-regulation, and metacognition 3.Has a longer course of development 4.More to do with classroom performance than learning of academic skills

16 Fluid Reasoning 1.Deductive, inductive reasoning, especially with novel materials 2.Has a longer course of development 3.More important for applied academics

17 Long-Term Recall 1.Close connection with other processes and with academic learning in general 2.Includes encoding, consolidation, storage, and retrieval 3.Rapid automatic naming is part of

18 Oral Language 1.Not the content (vocabulary) or receptive language but the oral expression processes

19 Phonological Processing 1.Processing of phonemes, e.g. blending 2.Phonemic awareness is part of

20 Processing Speed 1.How quickly information flows through the processing system; a matter of efficiency 2.Too slow: info. lost, process not completed

21 Visual-Spatial Processing 1.The ability to perceive, analyze, synthesize, manipulate and think with visual patterns 2.A strength in most LD cases 3.Weak relations with all academics; more of a “threshold” process

22 Working Memory 1.Processing while retaining information 2.Includes short-term memory 3.Both verbal and visual 4.An executive component

23 Processes and Academic Learning 1.Psychological processes are like “aptitudes” 2.Relations established through research 1.Flanagan et al., & McGrew 2.Swanson, Geary, and others 3.The influence of processes varies by age 4.For SLD look for academic area and related psychological processes to both be low 5.See TableTable

24 Research: SLD by Processing Subtypes 1.Visual-Spatial Deficits: Math calculation and math problem solving 2.Processing Speed Deficits: Reading comprehension, written expression 3.Working Memory Deficit: Math calculation, Written expression 4.Attention: Written expression Source: Hain, Hale, Kendorski

25 Dehn’s Processing Theory “For each academic skill there is an optimal set of psychological processes that function as aptitudes. For successful learning of a specific academic skill, the combined set of specific aptitudes must attain a sufficient threshold of development.” Link

26 Processing Clusters: Memory Example Attention Executive Functions Fluid Reasoning Long-Term Recall Processing Speed Working Memory See Link for other clusters See Link

27 Developmental Groupings Mature early after gradual development: Auditory Processing Fine Motor Processing Long-Term Recall Phonological Processing Visual-Spatial Processing See link for other groupings See link

28 Neuroanatomy of Processes

29 1.Most in more than one brain lobe 2.Illustrates the interconnectivity of processes 3.Most have specific structures within a lobe 4.Processing speed is a function of interconnectivity; does not have a specific structure

30 Occipital Lobe 1.Dedicated to vision and visual-spatial processing 2.Receives sensory data from the thalamus 3.Visual and spatial processing are separate 4.Dorsal stream (upper) sends spatial information to parietal lobe 5.Ventral stream (lower) sends visual information to temporal lobe

31 Temporal Lobe 1.Auditory processing 2.Long-term memory processing in the hippocampus 3.Some visual processing 4.Semantic memory storage

32 Parietal Lobe 1.Integrates sensory information 2.Language processing 3.Phonological processing

33 Frontal Lobe 1.The “output” lobe; others are input 2.Executive functions---prefrontal cortex 3.Working memory---prefrontal cortex 4.Attentional control---prefrontal cortex 5.Fluid reasoning 6.Fine motor 7.Oral expression 8.No storage of long-term memories

34 Processing Assessment Challenges 1.Connecting to academic concerns 2.Interrelated processes 3.Not all are found in one convenient battery 4.Doing it efficiently 5.Linking with interventions

35 Processing Assessment Principles 1.Should be multimethod, multisource, and multisetting 2.Informal, qualitative not enough 3.Should include standardized testing 4.Should be hypothesis driven 5.Selective, cross-battery testing 6.Integrate data during interpretation

36 Records Review 1.Any medical or health conditions 2.Age of onset 3.Developmental delays 4.Look for reported behaviors that indicate processing problems 1.Difficulty memorizing arithmetic facts: WM 2.Difficulty blending: Phonological processing 3.Low fluency: Processing speed

37 Interviews 1.Ask directly about processes but also ask about behaviors that are manifestations of processing weaknesses 2.Teachers: Ask about their hypotheses 3.Parents: Home environment examples 4.Students: Middle school and older 5.Suggested teacher and parent interview items will be in revised book

38 Observations 1.An observed behavior is due to more than one process 2.Look for several problematic behaviors that go with a specific process 3.See linkSee link

39 Dehn’s Approach to Cross Battery 1.Not limited to CHC factors 2.“Narrow” abilities/processes included 3.Includes processing factors that are important for learning of academic skills 4.Includes rating scales 5.Subtests classified through task analysis 6.Analyze scores at the composite (two- subtest) level whenever possible

40 Cross-Battery Testing 1.Assessment driven by hypotheses 2.Mix scales/batteries to cover all the areas 1.Try to limit the number of scales 2.Should be normed about the same time 3.Avoid redundancies when testing 4.Ideally, 2 subtests per process 5.Analyze results together and use a cross- battery mean to determine discrepancies

41 Selective Testing 1.Test all processes important for academics With most attention to an in-depth assessment of hypothesized weaknesses 2.Apply a cross-battery approach 3.Pick composites first 4.Categorized by factor and task analysis 5.See selective testing tables LinkLink 6.See comprehensive list link from booklink

42 Hypothesis Testing Approach 1.Given academic deficiency, what are the most likely process deficits 2.It’s “why” the child has a learning problem 3.Include non-processes 4.Must collect assessment data to “test” hypotheses 5.Try to avoid “confirmatory bias” 6.We all have weaknesses

43 Planning a Processing Assessment 1.Complete the processing assessment planner 2.TemplateTemplate 3.Completed exampleexample 4.See case study

44 Six-Year Old Case Study Concerns 1.Learning colors, letters, and numbers 2.Inconsistent performance 3.Recognizing and generating rhyming words 4.Reading learning difficulties 5.Doesn’t remember directions 6.Difficulty getting started on a task 7.Word retrieval problems 8.Math learning difficulties

45 Processing Analysis WorksheetWorksheet 1.Composite scores from test manual when possible 2.Convert all scores to standard scores 3.Exclude non-processing factors and subtests 4.Compute clinical process scores by averaging 5.Compute processing mean 6.Calculate discrepancies 7.Determine weaknesses and deficits 8.Do pairwise comparisons Completed ExampleCompleted Example 1.Opposites and those closely related 9.Complete worksheet and interpret

46 Using Dehn’s Processing Analysis Worksheet to Determine PSW 1.Deficit = both normative and intra-individual weakness (deficit is a “strong” weakness) 2.Scores below 90 are normative weaknesses 1.Below 85 if not using deficit approach 3.Intra-individual strengths and weaknesses use 12 point discrepancy 1.Assumes composites/subtests have hi reliability 2.Use 15 points if not using deficit approach 4.Automated worksheetworksheet

47 PSW Principles Regarding SLD 1.Neurologically-based deficits underlie SLD 2.There’s no SLD if there’s no processing deficit 3.Some processes highly related with academic skills 4.Processing deficits related to academic deficits 5.SLD have average or near average cognitive ability 6.Weakness should be normative &intra-individual 7.Weakness: statistically significant and unusual 8.PSW doesn’t mean there is a learning disability.


49 Concordance-Discordance Model 1.From James Brad Hale LinkLink 2.Similar to Naglieri’s model 3.Processing areas not significantly related to the academic area should be discordant: Processing strengths should be significantly higher than the academic weakness

50 CHC Model 1.A process related to the academic deficiency is weak or deficient 2.Unexpected underachievement: Process and academic deficit exist with otherwise normal ability 3.Regarding strengths, at least some processes should be in the average range

51 Dehn’s PSW Model 1.Normative weakness + intra-individual weakness = deficit 2.At least one process is a deficit 3.Intra-individual weakness is statistically significant 4.Subtest scores must be unitary for a deficit 5.At least one processes is in average range (strength) 6.The deficit is related to deficient academic skill 7.Consistency between process score(s) and the related academic skill score Link Link

52 Determining Weaknesses & Deficits 1.Intra-individual strengths and weaknesses 1.Should be at least a 12-point discrepancy 2.15 points if not using deficit rule 2.Normative weakness when score below 90 3.Deficits are rare statistically, have a neurological basis, and impair learning 4.Most states require only a weakness (typically an intra-individual weakness) but not a deficit, and also require strengths

53 Support for Strengths and Weaknesses 1.Informal data supports test scores and results of score analysis 2.Corroboration especially needed when scores differences are less than one standard deviation (12-14 points) 3.Integrate and label data when writing reportreport 4.Weaknesses match with specific academic areas they are highly related with

54 Psychological Processing Analyzer 1.Available at 2.Identifies strengths, weaknesses, deficits 3.Conducts cross-battery analysis using composites and/or subtest standard scores 4.11 psychological processes 5.From 22+ different scales: cognitive, achieve., rating, and processing linklink

55 Psychological Processing Analyzer 1.Composite and subtests are limited to those that are fairly direct measures 2.Some are re-classified based on the primary demands of the task 3.Difference formulas based on reliability coefficients of composites/subtests 4.Regression toward the mean 5..01 or.05 level of significance

56 Psychological Processing Analyzer 1.All scores converted to standard scores 2.Non-unitary process scores are flagged 3.Predicted score for each process based on mean of other 10 4.Differences greater than critical values are intra-individual weaknesses 5.Deficits are both types of weaknesses 6.Pairwise comparisons are optional LinkLink

57 Other Options for Determining PSW 1.Cross-battery software based on CHC taxonomy 1.Only shows one process weakness at a time 2.Use simple difference (SED) formula 1.Uses reliability coefficients 3.Advanced formula can be used when correlation between measures is known 4.Checking for confidence interval overlap

58 Rating Scales 1.Processing deficits are manifested through behaviors 2.Behavior ratings can be used to measure processing abilities 3.Examples: BRIEF and other Executive Function Scales 4.Also, the new CPPS

59 Children’s Psychological Processes Scale (CPPS) Overview 1.Standardized teacher rating scale 2.Ages 5-0-0 to 12-11-30 3.121 items across 11 subscales 4.Entirely online, internet-web based 5.Online administration time of 15 minutes 6.Online scoring and report 7.Author: Milton Dehn; published by Schoolhouse Educational Services, 2012 8.Measurement Consultant: Kevin McGrew

60 The Purposes of the CPPS 1.SLD Evaluations 1.Identify psych processing deficits 2.Pattern of strengths and weaknesses 3.Data for SLD diagnosis 2.Screening 1.Identifies need for intervention 2.Predicts academic skills development 3.Useful in planning comprehensive assessment 3.Planning interventions 4.Measure progress during interventions 1.Through the use of change-sensitive W-scores

61 CPPS Standardization 1.1,121 students rated by 278 teachers 2.128 communities in 30 states 3.All data collected online 4.Demographics match U.S. Census well 5.Norms: 4 age groups (5-6; 7-8; 9-10; 11-12) 6.Included children with disabilities 7.Demographics details LinkLink

62 How The Online CPPS Works 1.A psychologist’s side and a teacher’s side 2.Psychologist fills in teacher information and email sent 3.Teacher: student info and completes ratings 4.Psych receives email stating ratings complete 5.Psych generates report 6.See screen shotsSee screen shots

63 CPPS Administration 1.Online rating scale 12-15 minutes for teachers to complete 1.Can print free paper copy and enter later 2.Must answer all items (but can save incomplete) 2.Never, Sometimes, Often, Almost Always 3.Rating scale saved until report generated

64 CPPS Items Grouped by subscale In developmental (ability) order from lowest item to highest item Link Example of scoring in developmental sequence LinkLink

65 CPPS Report 1.Brief narrative, graph, and a table of scores 2.Change-sensitive W-scores 3.T-scores; percentiles; confidence intervals 4.Intra-individual strengths and weakness discrepancy table 5.T-score to standard score converter 6.Can be re-run with different options (without extra charge) ExampleExample

66 Discrepancy Analysis 1.Use discrepancy table to determine pattern of strengths and weaknesses (reversed) 1.Predicted score based on mean of other 10 2.Regression toward the mean included 3.+/- 1.00 to 2.00 SD of SEE discrepancy options 4.Strengths and Weakness labeling is opposite of discrepancy, e.g. “-” value = a strength 5.Non LD also have a pattern LinkLink

67 T-Score Conversion Table 1.Optional 2.Purpose: To see how consistent CPPS scores are with achievement and cognitive scores 3.T-score x 1.5 + 25 and then reverse distance from mean 4.Example: T-score of 60 x 1.5 = 90 + 25 = 115 5.Then subtract 15 from 100 = 85 ExampleExample

68 CPPS General Processing Ability (GPA) 1.Based on average of all process scores 2.Emerges from factor analysis; similar to concept of general intelligence 3.Processes function in an inter-related fashion 4.Most processes contribute to any given behavior, task 5.On CPPS defined as “the underlying efficiency of processing”

69 Diagnostic Accuracy for LD 1.37 LD subjects with broad demographics 2.Compared to matched controls, LD subjects had significantly higher means on all subscales LinkLink 3.The CPPS had high classification accuracy in regards to LD 1.Using CPPS GPA cutoff of 60 had a 92% classification accuracy across 74 subjects

70 Diagnosing LD with the CPPS 1.Look for pattern of strengths and weaknesses (discrepancy table) 2.Weaknesses should also be normative weaknesses (T-scores above 60) 3.Weaknesses should link to evidence-based achievement relations 4.Same criteria as PSW model

71 Discussion 1.How will you do processing assessment differently? 2.How will you determine weaknesses, strengths, deficits?

72 Using Assessment Results to Plan an Intervention 1.Select deficits and intra-individual weaknesses for intervention 2.Consider related processing weaknesses 3.Consider executive and WM limitations 4.Individualize

73 Interventions for Processing Weaknesses & Deficits 1.Strengthen weakness if possible 2.And utilize the strong areas more 3.Modifications that reduce the need to use the weak processes 4.Use methods that involve other processes, more of the brain

74 Attention: Self-Monitoring 1.Teacher, or device carried by student, cues student at variable intervals, such as 5 minutes 2.When cued, student marks monitoring sheet regarding behavior when cue occurred: 2- Completely on task; 1-Partially on task; 0- Completely off task 3.When teacher is cueing, she also provides her rating alongside student’s; student receives bonus point when ratings match 4.Set a points goal that student is working for, easy at first, then keep adjusting upwardLinkLink

75 Auditory Processing 1.Same as interventions for CAPD 2.Recoding auditory into visual information 3.Visual representations should accompany verbal presentations 4.Quiet environment 5.Improve acoustics 6.Fast ForWord 7.Auditory trainers (individual sound systems)

76 Executive Function 1.Increase metacognitive awareness 2.Teach planning 3.Work completion: set goal and timetime

77 Planning 1.Developing planning improves math performance 2.Discuss benefits of plans 3.Develop plans 4.Verbalize them 5.Implement them and evaluate

78 Fine Motor 1.Occupational therapy 2.Handwriting practice

79 Fluid Reasoning 1.Problem solving 2.Categorizing 3.Similarities and differences 4.Games that require reasoning and recognizing relationships

80 Long-Term Recall 1.Dual encoding 2.Elaboration 3.Testing 4.Visual mnemonics 5.Retrieval 6.Distributed practice 7.Context cues

81 Oral Language 1.Closure procedures 2.Categorizing words 3.Create a variety of sentences using same words 4.Synonyms and antonyms 5.Paraphrasing 6.Language therapy

82 Phonological Processing 1.Phonemic awareness interventions very effective.86 effect size (the earlier the better) 2.Oral at first, then with written material 3.Rhyming; isolating phonemes; identifying phonemes; deleting phonemes; categorizing common phonemes; segmenting phonemes that comprise words; and blending phonemes into words

83 Processing Speed Video Games

84 Visual-Spatial Processing None recommended

85 WM: Reducing Cognitive Load 1.Brief, consistent verbalizations 2.One process at a time 3.Allow time for rehearsal and processing 4.Quiet learning environment 5.Organized presentations 6.One step at time 7.Worked examples 8.Partially completed problems

86 WM: Teach Rehearsal 1.Most have by age 10; 1 st graders can learn 2.Serial and cumulative repetitive process 3.Repeat first word until next delivered then add next word to the repetition 4.First aloud, then subvocal 5.Good maintenance if overlearned 6.Increase length of list 7.More effective than elaborate strategies?

87 WM Accommodations 1.Extended testing time 2.Repeating information 3.Repeating information in a simplified manner 4.Providing written checklists and reminders of step-by-step procedures 5.One task at a time 6.Slow down presentation 7.Preferential seating to reduce distraction 8.Provide prompts and cues

88 N-Back Task (Exec. WM) 1.Challenging task but easily administered 2.Shown to improve WM capacity 3.Remember stimulus n-items back 4.Do it repetitively 5.Deck of cards ideal; prevents practice effects 6.Parents and children can practice at home 7.n-back taskn-back task 8.What strategy would you teach the child for succeeding at this?

89 N-Back Procedures 1.Display cards one at a time for 1-2 seconds 2.Start over after 1 st error 3.Should get 10 consecutive correct 3 times before going to next N 4.10-15 minutes of daily practice for 4 weeks 5.More challenging: A double n-back 6.Establish baseline 7.Encourage strategy use

90 Using Math to Build WM Complete calculations Remember the answers in sequence – 4 + 3 = 7 – 9 – 3 = 6 – Response: 7, 6

91 Discussion How will you attempt to incorporate processing interventions into IEP or other intervention programs?

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