Measuring Achievement and Aptitude: Applications for Counseling Session 7

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Measuring Achievement and Aptitude: Applications for Counseling Session 7


  • Achievement tests
    • Provides information about what an individual has learned or acquired.
      • Provide information to help individuals understand their academic strengths and limitations.
  • Aptitude test
    • Predict future performance or ability to learn
      • Often come to counseling because they are trying to make a decision about their future.

Six Areas of Assessment Using Achievement

  • Survey achievement batteries
  • Individual achievement tests
    • Typically cover the areas of reading, math, and spelling
  • Diagnostic tests

Six Areas--2

  • Criterion-referenced tests
    • Measure knowledge or comprehension to determine if certain criterion or standard has been met
  • Minimum-level skills
    • Measure skills for promotion, entrance, or graduation
    • Level is established before test is administered
  • Subject area tests
    • Example: test that covered knowledge of assessment strategies in counseling

Achievement Battery TerraNova

  • TerraNova
    • Administered to children K – 12.
    • Combination of norm and criterion referenced
    • Schools can select from basic battery
    • Schools can select format
    • Spanish version
    • Construction involved Item Response Theory
  • Information Provided
    • Norm-referenced
    • Criterion-referenced
    • Objective master
    • Performance level
  • Provides a profile
  • Scores provided
    • National percentiles
    • National percentile ranges
    • Stanines
    • Grade equivalents
  • Psychometric properties
    • Reliability r= mid .80 to mid .90
    • Recently published not much on construct validity yet
    • Content validity
      • Item analysis


  • Would you use this test? Provide rationale? What do others think ?

Aptitude Assessments

  • Hood & Johnson (1997) argued that counselors in a variety of fields need to be knowledgeable about the predominant scholastic aptitudes tests.
  • If you do not have a working knowledge of these instruments may not be viewed as credible.


  • Scholastic Assessment Test
  • Consists of two tests
    • SAT I: Reasoning test
      • 3 hour test that measures verbal and mathematical reasoning abilities
    • SAT II: Subject tests
      • Consists of single subject tests
        • Writing
        • Math level 1
        • Biology
        • French


  • Score ranges between 200 and 800 on both the Verbal and Mathematical sections of SAT I
    • Mean is 500
    • SD is 100
  • ETS (Education Testing Services) uses complex formula to equate scores on different versions.

Psychometric Properties of Aptitude Tests

  • These tests are used to make decisions that often have a significant influence on people’s lives and, therefore, the validity of these instruments deserves analysis.
  • GRE
    • Combined scores have validity coefficients of .31-.37
    • Undergraduate grade point averages have r = .35-.39
    • Adding the GRE and Grade point results in r = .49 -.63


  • Would you use this test?
  • Provide rationale?
  • What do others think?

Work Samples Assessment

  • Another way of assessing vocational/career aptitudes
  • Philosophical base
    • Work performance can best be assessed by using a sample of the actual work the individual would perform

Work Sample Assessments

  • Valpar Component Work Sample (VCWS)
    • 23 individual work samples on computer
    • Criterion-referenced scoring
    • Speed test (completed in certain amount of time_
    • Norms on nondisabled and disabled workers
    • Comes with built in computer scoring system
  • SAGE system
    • Non computer and computer versions

Test Preparation and Performance

  • Do workshops really increase scores?
    • Mixed review
    • Depends on individuals test taking sophistication—can they learn to learn to meet exams requirement or test format (logical problem solving)
    • Individual who have experience in taking standardized test have a distinct advantage (Anastasi, 1981)
    • Manuals and
    • sample tests have been constructed to level the playing field and provide persons with such experiences.
  • Coaching
    • Coaching programs do make a significant positive difference in scores (contested but not yet disproven)
    • Less expensive ways (travel experiences, tutoring, trips to museums
    • The closer the coaching material to the actual test content the greater the improvement in test scores
    • The more time individuals spend reviewing the material, the more likely it is that they will cover the material on the test.

Exam Results

  • Mean = 122.3
  • s.d. = 17.08
  • Mode = {106,5; 108; 150}
  • Median = 118.5
  • Z= data point – mean
  • standard deviation

Raw and Z-scores

  • Mean = 122.3
  • s.d. = 17.08

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