Using Exact with LASS or LADS Plus

Using Exact with LASS or LADS Plus

Exact is designed to provide measures of literacy skills and, although these measures may in some cases suggest dyslexia or other learning problems, Exact is not a diagnostic test as such. Administrators who require a test that will identify dyslexia should consider using LASS 11-15 (for the age range 11:0–15:11) or LADS Plus (for ages 15 and upwards). In fact, a combination of Exact with either LASS 11-15 or LADS Plus is a very powerful toolset not only for identifying dyslexia or other learning problems but also for determining the extent to which dyslexia or other learning problems are impairing the student’s capacity to learn, and for determining appropriate remedial intervention. For further information about these programs, please visit the GL website www.gl-assessment.co.uk.

LASS 11-15

LASS 11-15 is a fully computerised multifunctional assessment system for use with students in the age range 11 years 0 months to 15 years 11 months. The suite comprises eight different tests that assess the following skills:

  • single word reading
  • sentence reading
  • spelling
  • reasoning (nonverbal intelligence)
  • auditory memory (‘Mobile’)
  • visual memory (‘Cave’)
  • phonic skills (‘Nonwords’)16
  • phonological processing (‘Segments’)

Unlike Exact, none of the tests in LASS 11-15 is speeded. The full LASS 11-15 suite takes about 45–60 minutes to administer. However, if LASS 11-15 is administered after Exact, the tests of single word reading, sentence reading and spelling may be omitted as this information will already have been provided by Exact. By omitting these three tests, administration of LASS 11-15 is generally reduced to less than 30 minutes. Results can be viewed on screen or printed out immediately.

LASS 11-15 enables teachers to:

  • identify students with dyslexia (specific learning difficulty) or who have related learning problems
  • obtain a reasonable estimate of the student’s intelligence
  • identify students who are under-performing in literacy compared with their intelligence
  • identify underlying weaknesses in memory or phonological processing skills that could be the cause of literacy difficulties
  • identify students with poor phonic decoding skills that may require remedial intervention
  • assess improvements in memory, phonological and phonic decoding skills brought about by appropriate training or intervention

16 Nonwords are sequences of letters that are not real words but which nevertheless conform to the orthographic rules of the language (e.g. ‘sploff’, ‘blust’, ‘goster’) and so can be decoded and pronounced as though they were real words. Since nonwords will not have been encountered by the reader previously, the person can normally onlyuse phonological rules in order to decode them (visual, semantic or contextual strategies are of no help in decoding isolated nonwords). Nonwords thus provide a pure test of a person’s competence in phonological decoding, or what is often referred to in education as ‘phonics’.

LADS Plus

LADS Plus is a computerised test designed to screen for dyslexia in persons of 15 years and older. LADS Plus comprises five assessment modules:

  • Nonverbal reasoning (matrix reasoning)
  • Verbal reasoning (verbal conceptual reasoning, suitable for readers and non-readers)
  • Word recognition (lexical decoding involving speeded recognition of real words from nonwords)
  • Word construction (speeded lexical encoding of nonwords from syllables)
  • Working memory (backwards digit span)

The last three of the tests in the list are dyslexia sensitive measures, which are reasonably independent of education and intelligence. However, the two reasoning tests have been included in order to increase the accuracy of detection of dyslexia further, and reduce the incidence of false negatives and false positives. These also enable the administrator to obtain a rough estimate of the person’s intellectual ability, which may be important when making decisions about further action after screening.

The tests in LADS Plus are adaptive; that is, the program varies the items given according to the performance of the individual taking the test. This means that the assessment is swift and efficient. Each of the five modules takes about five minutes, so the whole screening can usually be completed in about 20–25 minutes. Results can be viewed on screen or printed out immediately.

Administration of LADS Plus does not require professional training in education or psychology. The tests are self-administered and the results are very easy to interpret. The program assists interpretation by stating the probability that the person has dyslexia: ‘high probability’, ‘moderate probability’, ‘borderline’ and ‘low probability’. However, because all the results of any LADS Plus screening are available to administrators, they are not forced to accept the recommendations of the program; instead, they are free to use their own professional judgment when interpreting results and in making decisions about what to do next.