Strengths & Weaknesses of the Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement

by Patrice D. Robinson

    The Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement published by Pearson Education Inc. was designed by Yale University clinical psychologists Dr. Alan S. Kaufman and Dr. Nadeen L. Kaufman in 1985. It was updated in 1998 and revised in 2004 to measure all seven areas stipulated by the 2004 re-authorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act. The KTEA-II is an individually administered assessment tool used to measure key academic skills in reading, math, written language and oral language.

    What does KTEA-II Measure?

    The Kaufmans designed the KTEA-II to measure for specific learning disabilities in basic reading skills, reading comprehension, mathematics calculation, mathematics reasoning, oral expression, listening comprehension and written expression. The test helps psychologists and other clinicians working directly with students to identify and analyze errors.

    Six Strengths

    The greatest strength of the KTEA-II exam is that it measures all seven areas designated by the IDEIA and allows for the specific identification and analyzation of student errors. Additionally, alternate forms of the test are available to allow for continual measurement throughout the school year or the intervention process. The assessment has both timed and untimed sections to allow for unhurried responses in those areas that call for oral student feedback. Test results are available with a score summary, subtest comparisons, achievement and ability comparisons, error analysis and instructional interventions. Another strength is that the test manual offers instructional strategies and recommendations for writing an Individual Educational Plan.

    Three Noted Weaknesses

    A major weakness of the KTEA-II is the extensive training and preparation needed to administer the test. Although training material is available in both a computer and written manual format, examiners need familiarity with easel-type booklets, individual record and student response forms, a puppet, a CD player for oral sections and separate stimulus cards. Test administrators must also know how to follow different basal and ceiling rules for each subtest to determine exactly where to start and end testing. A second weakness concerns planning time; since the student oral response areas of the test are not timed, the administration time recorded in the manual is not totally accurate. Pearl Barnes, an educational consultant in Britain, has also noted a usage drawback for the KTEA; this assessment is a test standardized on a population using American idiomatic vocabulary, which can be a problem for non-American English speakers and those with limited proficiency in English.

    Other Concerns

    Although the KTEA is considered a valuable assessment tool, educational psychologists have raised questions about stanine and norming data. Dr. Ron Dumont, director of the School of Psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, and Dr. John O. Willis, senior lecturer in assessment at Rivier University in New Hampshire, have analyzed KTEA-II and noted problems in both the manual and norm guides for the exam. For example, although the manual gives growth scale values, there is no explanation on how to use the GSV data when interpreting the KTEA-II responses. Additionally, in the norms book, there is a question about the accuracy of break point stanine data. At least four stated stanine points are inaccurate. It's also noted that a warning should be given about using the grade-based norms in the younger grades; there appear to be dramatic differences between the normed standard scores for the fall and spring assessments.

    About the Author

    Patrice Robinson is a retired professional educator and administrator. She worked in the public schools for more than 30 years. She holds a bachelor's degree in the teaching of English, two master'sdegrees (one in English and one in education) and a doctorate degree in education.

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