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Why the Woodcock Johnson test is a joke


dawn2000k February 12, 2008

I am actually still floored by what I found out the other day at my last team meeting. My son is currently in a 504 Plan and I am fighting for an IEP. He is on probably about a 3rd grade reading and math level and he's in 8th grade! Yet, he tests average or below average on his achievement tests.

When I asked to see a copy of the test questions, I was not shown. However, the school psychologist gave me an example of one of the test questions.

"Some fish live in the sea". The child then has to check yes or no. So, not only are the scores inflated (which my advocate advised), but they are specifically designed so that children like my son will pass!

I also found out that if the Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievement is administered along with the Woodcock Johnson Test of Cognitive would not only lead to more accurate results, but also be able to better assess for certain Learning Disabilities! Yet, my son's school will not administer the Cognitive Test?

I then found out the the test with the "ridiculous" questions is called "Form A" Apparently, it is Form B that actually contains questions that are more on his grade level. No wonder why they kept administering Form A the last 4 times that I referred him through the Special Education Process!

Just wanted to share this new info.

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Deemasee February 14, 2008

The question you refered to may be in the fluency portion where the student is asked to process simple bits of info - sentences or math problems - in a set time period. This is only one subtest of many on the Woodcock. As to the cognitive portion of the Woodcock many professionals prefer the validity and reliability of other cognitive measures. You can ask for an independed educational evaluation at the school's expense to get another viewpoint.


Anonymous February 14, 2008

Out side Ph.d that does diagnoses. Its not the woodcock test its those that are doing them. Under Child find a federal law your child should have had a test a long time ago. Get to an outside Ph.d, tell them that you need a comprehensive evaluation for a disability. Share with them what was said and whats been done.
Request and independent evaluations through your chair of special education, expressing that you do not agree with the evaluation that was done. Give them a two week time frame to reply to your request. During that time find a psychologist or a psychiatrist that will do an comprehensive eval. Get onto,and get your self aquainted with the federal and state laws in which you live.


dborgo February 15, 2008

I don't know if I would go as far as saying that the WJIII is a joke.

I think it was designed to find the typical learning disorder, which is language based and involves reading problems.

An NLD child has strong verbal skills, which can help them to reason out answers. My daughter is a good guesser. The problem is that in the classroom, they are moving away from multiple choice questions, and expect the students to be able to reason and answer questions in depth. This is where she struggles, particularly for inferential questions that aren't explicitly stated.

The type of math that my daughter struggles with isn't even tested.
I had my daughter go to to take a math test there ($20 for math evaluation). I sat beside her and noticed that at least 1/3 of the time she would come up with the wrong answer, and would notice that her answer was not a choice, and would then use the answers to figure out what was correct. Unfortunately in her daily math she doesn't have multiple choice answers to pick from, so her mistakes in long multiplication and division and fractions are numerous.

I have come to the conclusion that you can't rely solely on results from the WJIII and IQ. When you suspect a disability there should be more indepth testing in the student's problem areas. If you suspect NLD, then you most definitely would need an OT evaluation which would look at spatial, perception, and motor problems.


michellea February 15, 2008

Many people have offered the same advice regarding an independent evaluation (IEE). The student has had a number of evaluations performed by various school districts over the years but has not qualified for services. It is time to consult with an independent expert to get an unbiased opinion.

I agree, the parents should engage a highly qualified neuropsychologist (with an expertise in education and learning disabilites) to review past reports, work samples and conduct new testing to find out what is going on. The family is entitled to an IEE, paid for by the school district and needs to request this IN WRITING as soon as possible.

The district is not listening to the parent. It is time to change the tactics and bring in an outside exert that can talk the talk and analyze the situation.

That said, it is important for the parent to know that bringing in an independent neuropsychologist may not gaurentee an LD diagnosis. The school district must only "consider" the recommendations. Plus, the evaluator may find that no LD exists.


help4U May 5, 2009

(I apologize, but I just now found this site and saw this thread)

I am a social worker for a Neurodevelopmental disabilities specialist or in layman's terms an ADHD doc.

Our office has extensive experience helping parents assure the proper services for their kids within the school setting. Whether a 504 or an IEP is usually irrelevant as long as the child gets what they need. Sometimes the need itself will disctate whether it is a 504 or an IEP.

Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions.



auntiecarol December 28, 2009

Just joined Great Schools and your discussion topic was just the reason. I had similar experience with recent re-certification for LD for my 15 year. The psychologist used only the WJ-III and not the cognitive. My daughter said the test questions were extremely easy and were not reflective of the type of work she is required to do at school,particularly relative to reading and math. The "professional" labeled her as only dysgraphic, so she was just denied extended testing for ACT. Her prior diagnosis at age 9 yielded reading disorder and written expression. This child reads extremely slowly, reverses all her b, p, and d's, substitutes and borrows letters from neighboring words, reads backwards(left=felt, was=saw), reverses greater and left than signs ,as well as numerators and denominators, the rays on angles, etc. I spent $1,500.00 for a re-evaluation because the old one had lapsed and received essentially NOTHING. Some of the teachers at school recognize the discrepancies between her classroom knowledge and poor testing, so they are granting her their own accommodations.
Question -she was 15 when administered the assorted battery of tests--for children. She was 15 years, 3 months. The WJ-III for children is from ages 8-16 , I believe, Does this mean the same battery is given to an 8 as a 16 year old? so, if she tested low average, had I waited a few more months till she was 16, would she perhaps then have scored lower(out of average) because the test was more true to her age and what she experiences in school ? Would she have then possibly qualified for accommodations?


healthy11 December 29, 2009

Tests like the WJ-ach supposed to be normed by age, so I believe, for example, an "average" 8-year old may only be expected to answer 6 questions in a given category to score at the 50th percentile, whereas an "average" 15 year old might typically answer 14 questions in a category, but it does sound as if the same questions are used.

auntiecarol, do you mean to say you spent $1,500 and all the evaluator gave was the WJ-III achievement test? I would seriously think about filing a complaint with whatever accredidation or licensing group the person belongs to, because to me it's unethical to give just a single test to determine eligibility, and the fee you were charged for that one test is outrageous. For a student with suspected reading issues, as a minimum I'd also like to have seen the GORT (Gray Oral Reading Test) which breaks down reading into core for rate, accuracy, fluency, and comprehenion. Did they administer the TOWL (Test of Written Language) to determine the dysgraphia?


michellea December 30, 2009

I agree with Healthy that if the WJ was the only test given, you should complain and or inquire about a more extensive battery of tests.

These tests are normed for certain age groups and are designed to provide very specific information. It would be appropriate to give the WJ to your 15 year old, but this single test gives you only a bit of information.

Keep in mind that all of these tests are designed to give the diagnostic information in the shortest time possible. Evaluators consider the constrains ts of the test to make their diagnosis.

For instance, most of the WJ reading sub tests are untimed. So, a child with extensive training in decoding may rank very high on word attack tests, leading one to believe that her reading skills or fine. But, in the real world of connected text and classroom life, timing negatively impacts reading performance. Tests like the Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE) are similar to WJ,, but have a time element. A discrepancy between scores on the two similar tests would yield important data.

For a child that still experiences reversals, it would be important to get data from other visual processing and visual memory tests. Hopefully there were some within the overall battery. These kinds of mistakes must impact her reading accuracy and rate - I would expect that she took the Grey Oral Reading (GORT) to analyze her overall fluency.

It sounds like the evaluation was weak. I would express my concern and try to get more extensive testing. Good luck.


seames6 January 7, 2010

I have a question about this test. My sons teacher wants to give him this test to determin his reading level. I have mixed thoughts. He is eight and in the third grade on an iep and and was reading at a second grade level last year. He moved schools and I have asked what reading level he is at and now his teacher wants to give him this test. After reading seveal post not so sure.


michellea January 7, 2010

This test will give you insight into your child's reading skills, but any single sub test or group of tests using the WJ will only give you his ability under the very best of conditions.

I would say yes to this test only if the school also uses the Grey Oral Reading to measure his rate and accuracy under timed conditions and the Test of Word Reading Efficiency that measures his word attack and sight word reading under timed conditions. They should also tell you what level text is at his independent (90 % accuracy) and instructional (80% accuracy) level, using some sort of standard measure such as Fontis & Pinnel, DRA, Lexile etc. and

If they want to use only the WJ - I think you will get a reading level that is overstated and that does not coorelate to the reading demands in school and in life.

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