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Are there diagnostic alternatives of the IQ-reading discrepancy? Evaluation of assessment techniques for identifying reading-disabled college students

Cheryl Ann Cisero, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The current approach to identifying specific reading disability is plagued with problems. The most common diagnostic procedure, called the IQ-achievement discrepancy, involves establishing that a student's reading performance on standardized achievement tests is significantly below what would be expected from his/her IQ. This approach is unreliable with respect to diagnosis and uninformative with respect to prescriptives for remediation. An approach is needed that can provide reliable diagnosis and can indicate the deficient skills that could be targeted for remediation. The purpose of the present research was to evaluate alternatives to the IQ-reading discrepancy for identifying reading disabled college students. Specifically, the question was whether reading disabled and nondisabled college students could be differentiated using the Computer-based Academic Assessment System (CAAS) and a measure of listening and reading comprehension called the Sentence Verification Technique. College students recruited from Disabled Students Services and nondisabled introductory psychology students at the same college were given SVT tests and elementary-level and adult-level CAAS reading batteries. After all data was collected and prior to data analysis, students in the disabled sample were classified as having a reading disability, generalized learning disability, or other disabilities on the basis of various sources of information. The requirements of a diagnostic technique for identifying reading disability were used as a framework for evaluating SVT and CAAS techniques. Multivariate analyses of variance were used to evaluate each of the techniques alone, and discriminant analyses were used to evaluate the techniques in combination in meeting the following requirements: (1) differentiating disabled from nondisabled students, (2) differentiating reading disabled students from nondisabled students and from students with other disabilities, (3) differentiating among disabled students with different types of problems, and (4) identifying individual patterns of performance that indicate a reading disability. Results suggested that SVT and CAAS techniques were generally able to make the above distinctions with the CAAS technique appearing to be more effective. Reasons for why SVT may have been less successful are provided in the discussion.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Educational evaluation|Special education|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Cisero, Cheryl Ann, "Are there diagnostic alternatives of the IQ-reading discrepancy? Evaluation of assessment techniques for identifying reading-disabled college students" (1996). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9619381.