Improve Diagnostic Accuracy by Understanding the Numbers Behind Our Tests

1 hour

Course Type: Video

Have you ever asked yourself why we use 1 or 1.5 standard deviations below the mean as a cut-point to guide our decisions?

Yet, we frequently use standardized tests to guide our diagnostic decisions. In this workshop, we share what the test statistics mean and why we should reconsider this approach.

Test developers create tools to help us measure receptive language skills, expressive language skills, speech skills, pragmatic skills, cognition, and so on. As evaluators, we use those tools to guide our diagnostic decisions which, in turn, lead to placement decisions for students. Will a child receive special education services or not? These are big decisions that ride, in part, on the standardized testing tools we choose. So, we owe it to our students to really understand the tools we use. We need to select tools that give us thorough information about the content area we are testing. We need to understand what the reliability and validity estimates of the test are. Most importantly, we need to use the information provided by the test developers about sensitivity and specificity to adjust our standard practice of using the same cut-point for every test. We’ll also consider cultural and linguistic diversity can impact test results, and steps we can take to avoid misdiagnosis.

FINANCIAL: Ellen Kester, Ph.D., CCC-SLP  is an employee of Bilinguistics and receives a salary.  Bilinguistics receives royalty payments for online courses.

NON-FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE:  Ellen Kester does not have any non-financial relationships to disclose.


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