Summary details of each test

Sentence Reading

Sentence Reading is an adaptive test that involves finding the missing word in a sentence. Students are presented with a sentence that has one word missing and a picture to go with the sentence. Students select the correct word from five words at the bottom of the screen by clicking on it and then clicking on the OK button to move on. The student starts by attempting some ‘probe’ items to determine the level at which they should start the test. Their progress through the test depends on their performance and the test is discontinued when the student fails a certain number of items within one level.

Single Word Reading

Students are presented with a picture of an object on the screen and hear the word spoken by the computer. Students select the correct word from five words at the bottom of the screen and then click on the OK button to move on. This test is not adaptive and the student must attempt all of the items.

Single Word Reading is the only test in the LASS suite for which scores are not distributed in a normal curve. In fact, there is a significant negative skew, indicating that most students will achieve a maximum or near-maximum performance (in statistical terms this is sometimes referred to as a ‘ceiling effect’). The Single Word Reading test does not have sufficient sensitivity to discriminate amongst students within the average range, and so its use should be confined to students who are significantly behind in reading development, either to determine their attainment level or evaluate progress.

Spelling

Spelling is an adaptive test that involves spelling single words. Students are presented with a picture on the screen and hear a word and a sentence putting the word into context. Students spell the word using keyboard entry and then click on the Enter key or OK button to move on. The student starts by attempting some ‘probe’ items to determine the level at which they should start the test. Their progress through the test depends on their performance and the test is discontinued when the student fails a certain number of items out of the last few attempted.

Reasoning

Reasoning is an adaptive test involving matrix puzzles that can be solved by a careful application of logical reasoning, using both visual and verbal strategies. Students are shown a 3 × 3 matrix with the bottom right hand square empty. Students choose which of six squares at the bottom of the screen complete the pattern. They then click on the OK button to move on. The student starts by attempting some ‘probe’ items to determine the level at which they should start the test. Their progress through the test depends on their performance and the test is discontinued when the student fails a certain number of items out of the last few attempted.

Cave

Cave is a visual spatial memory test set in a cave with eight hollows in the wall. Different pictures, called ‘phantoms’, appear in different hollows one at a time and then disappear. The student must remember which phantom went in which hollow. After the phantoms have disappeared they are shown on the bottom of the screen along with two distractors. The student must select the phantoms that were presented, by clicking the mouse on them, dragging them to the correct hollow and dropping it. The student can put the phantoms back in any order as this is not a test of sequential memory. Each item has a (fairly generous) time limit in order to increase the challenge of the task: the instructions are that the phantoms must be put in their correct positions ‘before the candle burns out’.

All students start with a presentation of two phantoms and complete twelve trials in total. When a student has correctly placed two phantoms they move on to three phantoms and so on until the twelve trials have been completed. The maximum number of phantoms that can be presented is eight. The number of distractors also increases as the test progresses, so increasing the overall difficulty of the task.

Mobile

This test is a measure of auditory sequential memory involving digit span. The student is given a telephone number to remember which they then enter onto a mobile phone using the mouse. The student then clicks on the green phone button when s/he has finished. Students must get both practice items (three digit numbers) correct before moving on to the test items. All students start with two trials of three digit numbers and if they answer one or both correctly then they move on to two trials of four digit numbers and so on up to nine digits. If a student fails both trials on a level then the test is automatically discontinued.

Nonwords

Nonwords is a test of phonic decoding skills, comprising 25 items, presented in order of difficulty. A nonword is presented visually on the screen, the sound system represented on screen will then play four different versions of the word. The student can hear these different versions as many times as they want to by hovering the mouse over the loudspeakers. When they hear the version of the word that they think is correct they click on that loudspeaker and then on the red button to move on to the next item. Students must attempt all 25 items in the test.

Segments

Segments is a test of syllable and phoneme deletion that identifies poor phonological processing ability. The test comprises 32 items, presented in order of difficulty. Students are presented with real words and asked what each word would sound like if part of the word was removed. Students can hear the instructions for each item as many times as they want by clicking the question mark on the sound system represented on screen. The sound system plays four different answers which the student can hear as many times as they want to by hovering the mouse over the loudspeakers. When they hear the answer that they think is correct they click on that loudspeaker and then on the red button to move on. The student must attempt all the items in the test.