WOODCOCK JOHNSON IV UPDATE
As part of my role at the UPDC, I have been the specialist responsible for teaching standardized assessments, and in particular the WJ III. The newest version is due to be released this June, and I have been asked many questions regarding the changes and my observations concerning possible adoption and training. To date, there has been very little specific information released regarding the newest incarnation of the Woodcock suite of assessments. I participated in a webinar today, and in case you missed it and you are interested in more information, I’ll share what I learned here.
WJ IV will be available for shipping 6/1/2014. Pre-release discount (10%) available through 5/30/2014.
The WJ IV has been seven years in development and is reported to be a comprehensive, major revision of the WJ III, with significant new features and interpretive options. The IV comprises three separate, co-normed batteries: 1. Cognitive, 2. Achievement, and 3. Oral Language. Each battery can be used as a stand-alone set of measures to assess strengths and weaknesses, or a more comprehensive compare-and-contrast interpretation using any two or all three.
- Ease and flexibility. Each of the three batteries is designed with a similar format to obtain the most information in the shortest time. Each battery has a set of “core” subtests which, administered, can be interpreted for a pattern of significant strengths and weaknesses. Based on the core data, additional subtests may be administered to go deeper in areas of weakness and further pinpoint or diagnose learning problems and possible correlations to oral language and/or basic psychological processes.
- Going beyond basic Carroll, Horn, Cattell (CHC) cognitive theory. The WJ IV is reported to go beyond CHC as measured by the WJ III, and incorporate the latest research advances in correlations of intellectual ability and achievement/or language abilities.
- New tests, and expanded tests in each of the three batteries.
- Oral language has parallel subtests in English and in Spanish to identify language dominance and English vs. Spanish proficiency.
- New Comprehension Knowledge/Fluid Reasoning cluster, most predictive of school achievement.
- Three parallel forms of achievement, with many new and revised subtests/clusters
- Theory revision. New emphasis on Working Memory as a significant correlate to achievement. Greater emphasis on fluency and comprehension mirroring the latest research.
- Core subtests 1-7 to obtain a GIA standard score; most predictive of achievement
- New subtest: Verbal Attention to measure Working Memory
- New subtest Letter Pattern Matching to measure orthography
- New subtest Phonological Processing to measure Auditory Processing, strong predictor of reading
- New composite Comprehension Knowledge/Fluid Reasoning (new discrepancy interpretation options)
- New subtest Non-word Repetition to measure cognitive/linguistic abilities
- Suggested to administer core subtests 1-7, analyze, then decide if further subtests/clusters might yield important information, strengths/weaknesses
- Major structural changes, three alternate forms of the standard battery
- One form of the extended battery
- Six core achievement tests, two each in reading, math and written expression
- New subtest; Segmentation
- New subtest; Reading Recall
- New subtest; Reading Fluency cluster (2 subtests)
- New Qualitative Observation of performance procedure
- New Oral Reading error procedure
- New, expanded mathematics and science subtests
- Expanded Reading Comprehension
- Expanded Reading Rate
- Expanded Math Problem Solving
Oral Language Battery
- New, stand-alone battery
- Twelve subtests; nine in English, and three in Spanish.
- Core OL cluster of four subtests to identify strengths/weaknesses in OL
- Three new Spanish OL subtests. When administered in conjunction with three correlated English OL subtests, Language dominance can be determined as well as English and Spanish proficiency. For English Language Learners who are Spanish speakers, these six subtests may be administered first, to help decide how to proceed with cognitive and/or achievement tests. This procedure eliminates the ambiguity of answering the need to rule out (disclaimer) first language proficiency as required by state rules and regulations.
- Ancillary examiner procedure for working with a Spanish speaker examiner (aide?)
- Expanded interpretive information when OL tests are given along with achievement and cognitive tests
- Simplified (less time-intensive) snapshot of strengths/weaknesses
- Co-normed three batteries yield true discrepancy data, not estimated data using a regression math formula
- Ability/Achievement discrepancy procedure using standard deviation data
- Academic Knowledge/Achievement discrepancy
- Broad Oral Language/Achievement discrepancy. Presented as the best predictor for Spanish speakers to determine language dominance
- Scholastic Aptitude/Achievement discrepancy. Compares selected achievement area to those cognitive psychological processes that correlate most closely to that achievement area.
- Comprehension Knowledge/Fluid reasoning cluster to other clusters. Presented as a significant predictor of strengths/weaknesses as most important cluster relating to achievement. This new combined cluster/discrepancy procedure is presented to meet the requirement of identifying specific learning disabilities using the “pattern of strengths and weaknesses” option allowed by IDEA (but not approved in Utah).
- Scoring of the IV will be web-based only, no more CD’s. Access to online scoring is free with the purchase of one or more of the assessment books.
How long can a district continue to use the WJ III?
No definitive answer was offered, and users were referred to APA guidelines, which state that assessments are to be conducted using the latest norms or versions of tests. It was suggested that some districts might have to continue to use the WJ III for 1-2 years due to financial constraints.
Are there training options available?
The short answer is YES and probably. However, the longer answer for Utah LEA’s is not clear at this writing. Riverside Publishing had moved to a different model for professional training for the WJ IV. In the past, LEAs were free to contact any of the 22 national WJ III trainers and arrange for training for their teachers/psychologists. In Utah, WJ III and other standardized assessment training was available through the UPDC. The new statewide professional development provider is TAESE, and requests for PD need to flow through the TAESE website or the TAESE regional coach assigned.
All professional training requests for the WJ IV are made through Riverside publishing, which will clarify requests and training details with the requesting source. Riverside will set up regional trainings request, as well as stand-alone trainings for organizations or districts. Riverside maintains their cadre of Expert Clinical Consultant WJ IV trainers, and will assign a regional trainer to carry out the training.
Utah districts and charter schools are invited to contact Dave Forbush, Associate Director of TAESE with questions regarding WJ IV training requests. Dave Forbush, 435-797-9050, email@example.com
Some regional training dates have been announced. For more information on these, go HERE: http://www.leadandlearn.com/conferences/search?keywords=Woodcock&f%255B0%255D=field_event_type%3A70&submit.x=0&submit.y=0
Based on what I learned, the WJ IV goes far beyond what I expected, and is significantly changed from the WJ III. I have been fluent in administering and teaching successive versions of the WJ through all three past and current versions. I’m very impressed with the comprehensive makeover presented. I am particularly pleased to see the increased emphasis on oral language proficiency and its strong correlation to reading and written expression. An important outcome of using the WJ IV is that it presents three co-normed batteries, which used in combination for a referral-based assessment, will meet all aspects of a comprehensive assessment as required by IDEA. This new version incorporates important trends and findings in psycho-educational research, and most importantly, offers significantly more ways to interpret data and make better decisions regarding interventions. The new co-normed English/Spanish oral language tests offer a quick and easy solution to the nagging difficulty of establishing language dominance and English proficiency for ELLs before any formal cognitive and/or achievement tests are administered. Another reported advance is the possibility of reduced test administration time without sacrificing the quality of the data. Each of the three co-normed tests have a suggested set of core tests to be administered. Based on the results of the core data, additional subtests may be administered. The most important advantage I believe is the expanded ability to pinpoint or diagnose learning difficulties and identify accommodation or interventions based on deeper levels of interpretation than available previously.
Cost. Utah spends considerably less per pupil than any other state, making purchases of assessments more difficult. Districts/LEAs will have to project and plan for phasing out old assessments and project expenditures for new ones. In addition, there may be associated costs for professional development, not yet identified in Utah.
Author: Michael Herbert, Educational Specialist, UPDC
The website for the WJ IV is: wjIV.com There is limited content information there, but does have pricing information and the portal to request additional information or to schedule professional training. Several of the WJ IV authors presented detailed, technical information regarding the new assessments at the National Association of School Psychologists conference this year, and their powerpoint presentations are available HERE: http://www.slideshare.net/iapsych/wj-iv-nasp-2014-workshop-intro-and-overview-by-dr-fred-schrank
For local information or answers to specific questions, feel free to contact me directly at the UPDC, until 6/30/2014.
After 6/30, contact Kim Fratto at the Utah State Office of Education at: firstname.lastname@example.org
After 6/30, information and requests for professional development training will be through the TAESE portal of the USOE SARS website at: http://www.schools.utah.gov/sars/