Assessing students outside the 7-16 age range

Assessing students under 7:0

It is standard practice that normative tests are not generally recommended for use outside the age range for which they have been designed and standardised. Any test, such as Lucid Recall, which meets basic psychometric criteria must be standardised on a given population and this will determine the range of applicability of the test (see Section 1.3 for explanation of the standardisation process). Tests appropriate to the students’ chronological age should be used wherever possible, to avoid the dangers of inappropriate decisions being made – e.g. that a student is ‘at risk’ (or not ‘at risk’) or requires intervention (or no intervention) when the evidence for this may be unsound.

If the student being assessed is younger than age 7:0, then Lucid Recall will use the norms for the age range 7:0 – 7:5 when analysing results, and this will almost certainly lead to an underestimation of their performance as chronological age generally has a major impact on performance in childhood. However, it is also important to be aware that the tests in Lucid Recall were not designed for children under the age of 7; such children may find the tests too difficult, scoring at, or close to, what is called the floor of the test (i.e. the minimum raw score obtainable on a test; in Lucid Recall this is zero). On the word recall test, more than 10% of children under 7:0 would be expected to score at floor level. On the pattern recall test, more than 4% of children under 7:0 would be expected to score at floor level. On the counting recall test, more than 21% of children under 7:0 would be expected to score at floor level.

From these figures it can be seen that Lucid Recall loses much of its discriminatory power at lower skill levels when used with children under 7:0, this is most apparent on the counting recall test (on which the test does not discriminate below SS 88), somewhat less marked on the word recall test (on which the test does not discriminate below SS 81, and least of all on the pattern recall test (on which the test does not discriminate below SS 73).

On the other hand, if a child under 7 is believed to be ahead of his or her peers in cognitive development, Lucid Recall may be useful in revealing how advanced their development is. In such circumstances age equivalents would be the preferred form of scores for the teacher or administrator to use, rather than standard scores or centile scores, and results should always be interpreted with care. For further information about age equivalents, see Section 3.2.4).

Consequently, use of Lucid Recall with students under the age of 7 is not recommended except under special circumstances as outlined above.

Assessing students older than 16:11

Lucid Recall was designed for use with students aged up to 16 years 11 months and use with students older than this can create problems when interpreting results. However, provided assessors are aware of the issues involved and results are interpreted with care, Lucid Recall can be used with students older than 16:11.3

Just as the use of Lucid Recall with children younger than age 7 can confront the assessor with test floor issues, Lucid Recall with students older than age 16:11 may occasionally create test ceiling issues. Strictly speaking, the ceiling of a test is the maximum raw score obtainable, and that is the meaning used here. Sometimes, however, the term is applied to the upper age limit for which the test has been normed, because over this age limit the standard score norms will not be valid.

On the word recall test, more than 3% of students over age 16:11 would be expected to score at ceiling level (raw score 30). On the pattern recall test, more than 1% of students over age 16:11 would be expected to score at ceiling level (raw score 66). On the counting recall test, more than 5% of students over age 16:11 would be expected to score at ceiling level (raw score 30).

While the proportions of students over age 16:11 scoring at ceiling level on Lucid Recall are generally smaller than the proportions of students under age 7:0 scoring at floor level, it is still apparent that some discriminatory power is lost when Recall used with more skilful students over age 16:11. Above this age the word recall test does not discriminate above SS 128, the pattern recall test does not discriminate above SS 139, and the counting recall test does not discriminate above SS 124. However, this is probably less of a problem than younger students scoring at the floor of the test because the principal use of Lucid Recall is likely to be in identifying students who have working memory difficulties. If the focus of interest is in those students whose working memory is well below that of their peers, the lack of discriminatory power with older students who have superior memory skills is not a serious concern.

If the student is older than 16:11 then the program will use the norms for age 16:6–16:11 when analysing scores. For this reason, when assessing students over age 16:11, age equivalents are the preferred form of scores for the teacher or administrator to use. For further information about age equivalents, see Section 3.2.4).

3 Be aware that some regulations (e.g. JCQ regulations for exam access arrangements) insist that students being assessed are within the normed age range for the test.