Guidance for administering LASS 11-15 tests
Is the teacher familiar with the test being administered?
Assessing students with LASS is straightforward, but before you begin to test students you should first run through the complete suite of tests to familiarise yourself with them. To do this you should register yourself as a ‘student’. If you wish to exit any test and return to the tests menu before the end, then press F4. This quick exit from a test is also useful when demonstrating the program to other teachers or for use in training sessions. However, they should not be used when testing a student unless absolutely necessary — see Section 2.3.12.
Is the testing environment satisfactory?
The ideal testing environment is one that is reasonably quiet, with minimal distractions. This could be a separate room, but LASS has been designed to use in the ordinary classroom, where distractions are often unavoidable. Visual and auditory distraction (both to the student being tested and to other students in the class) should be minimised. It is recommended that the computer and the student are positioned in such a way that the student is not looking directly at the rest of the class, nor should the rest of the class easily be able to see the monitor screen. The best position for this is usually in the corner of the room. To minimise auditory distraction, headphones are recommended. Inexpensive lightweight headphones of the type used for portable audio equipment will be adequate (but not the type that are inserted into the ear).
The student should be sitting comfortably at a suitable level in front of the computer screen (not too high or low, in order for them to see the screen and use the mouse satisfactorily). It is not recommended that students attempt the tests standing up, as they are more likely to move about and alter the angle at which the screen is viewed – this can lead to failure to see everything that is happening on the monitor, and can also disrupt mouse control. The supervisor should check for reflections on the monitor from windows and lights that could impair the student’s perception. To do this the supervisor should check by viewing the screen from the same position that the student will adopt.
It is not recommended that students attempt the tests when other students are standing or sitting in a position in which they can become involved in the task or act as a distraction. It will be hard for other students to inhibit their responses and their behaviour may influence the decisions of the student being tested.
It is usually not necessary for students of this age to be closely supervised while attempting the tests, unless the teacher has a particular reason to do so. The tests in LASS have been designed to be interesting and stimulating for students in this age group and the vast majority of students are highly motivated to do their best. Once the teacher is satisfied that the student understands the requirements of a test, has completed the practice items and has moved on to the test items, the teacher may leave the student to complete that test. However, where the teacher suspects that a student may not be well motivated to complete the test, or may be easily distracted, closer supervision is advisable. In particular, disaffected students, or those with very low ability, may need closer supervision in order to provide encouragement and ensure they remain on task.
Is the equipment functioning correctly?
The teacher or supervisor should check that (a) the monitor display is clear and its colours correct, (b) the sound system (speakers or headphones) is audible (not too loud or to soft, and without interference), and (c) the mouse is functioning correctly (it may need cleaning) and is positioned in front of the student on a suitable surface so that its movements are unimpeded.
Is the student prepared for the task?
It is important that the student understands the nature of the task, how to indicate responses to the computer using the mouse, and when to respond (essentially when the tests will allow them to respond). Students should not be allowed to take the tests if they are unwell, as results are likely to be unreliable. In general, students will experience no difficulty in understanding the instructions spoken by the computer and in following the practice tasks. This should enable them to progress to the test phase without special attention from the teacher. However, if the student does not understand any instructions the supervisor may re–express them in a more suitable manner. Explaining and re-expressing the task requirements to the student may continue into the demonstration and practice stages of each test. This is particularly useful for any student who is experiencing problems in understanding the true nature of the task. It is often easier for the student to comprehend the task requirements by experience of the practice stages, than by more abstract oral explanation. Once the test items commence, there should be no further aid given to the student.
Choosing which tests to administer
LASS 11-15 is a suite of eight tests, each of which has a different function. Teachers can choose to give all or some of the tests. LASS is a complex assessment package and a great deal of research and careful thought has gone into its development — each and every test component is there for a specific purpose, and each test can give the teacher valuable information about the student.
Much will depend on the purposes of the assessment and the teacher’s knowledge of the student’s difficulties. If nothing is known about a student, it is strongly recommended that all of the tests should be administered except Single Word Reading, thereby accessing the fullest information. (However, if the Sentence Reading result is low, then it would be appropriate to administer Single Word Reading also.) On average, this should take between 30 and 45 minutes to complete, in total. If the teacher already has useful information (e.g. about reading and spelling attainment) it should be adequate to concentrate on the other assessment components of the program.
Although it is desirable to give the full suite of tests to each student, it is not absolutely essential. If time is short, it is acceptable to administer a subset of the tests instead of the full suite, in which case the issue of choice of tests arises. In this situation, it is helpful to think of LASS as a kit of tools, with the teacher choosing one or more of those tools for specific purposes. There are instances in which a teacher requires information about a student’s abilities in a particular aspect of attainment (e.g. reading or spelling) or particular cognitive domain (e.g. memory or phonological processing). In such circumstances it is perfectly acceptable for the teacher to carry out only the most appropriate LASS tests rather than administering all of them.
In order to make sensible choices about which tests to administer and which to leave out, teachers first need to understand what each of the tests is for. To develop an understanding of the tests, teachers are advised to study Chapters 4, 5 and 7. It should be noted that the Single Word Reading test is the only one in the LASS suite for which scores are not distributed in a normal curve. In fact, there is a significant negative skew, indicating that most students will achieve a maximum or near-maximum performance (in statistical terms this is sometimes referred to as a ‘ceiling effect’). The Single Word Reading test does not have sufficient sensitivity to discriminate amongst students within the average range, and so its use should be confined to students who are significantly behind in reading development, either to determine their attainment level or evaluate progress.
Whichever strategy teachers adopt for selecting LASS tests for administration to any given student, it is strongly recommended that first they should familiarise themselves thoroughly with all the tests, how they are delivered and what cognitive abilities they measure. In other words, to make the most effective use of LASS, teachers need to know about all the ‘tools’ in the LASS ‘kit’, what they are for and how they are used. This will require trying out the tests as well as consulting the relevant sections of this manual. Only then can teachers make an informed professional decision about how best to use LASS to meet their particular assessment needs.
Order in which the tests are administered
The order in which LASS tests are attempted is not particularly important. As teachers become more experienced with the program, they will find that they develop their own views about what tests are most useful to begin with, or to use in certain cases.
Number of tests to be administered per session
It should be obvious that a satisfactory test result cannot be obtained if students are not attending to the tasks and attempting to do their best. However, the LASS tests are mentally demanding and students can easily become mentally fatigued after a few tests. The effort that they apply can diminish significantly, although they may still enjoy the activity. Consequently, even though students may express a desire to continue it is recommended that the teacher or supervisor should use his or her discretion in deciding whether or not to administer more tests in the current session. Many teachers find that three or four tests per student are sufficient in any one continuous session. However, this may vary according to the concentration level of the student and other factors. Some students in this age range are quite capable of completing all tests in a single session.
Switching the cartoons on/off
Each test in LASS (in the stand-alone version only) can be preceded by (and closed) with a humorous animated cartoon. These cartoons have been designed with students of this age in mind and each last about one minute or less. They provide additional stimulation and interest as well as helping to engage students who might otherwise be difficult to assess. The cartoons setting is normally off, though they can be turned on for one or multiple students by altering the ‘Show cartoons’ setting on the ‘Security’ menu in the Reports and Administration section of the LASS software.
Note: This option has been discontinued in the networked edition of LASS 11-15.
Is the assessment being conducted fairly?
In order for the assessment to be ‘fair’ (i.e. to give a reasonably accurate representation of the student’s abilities) it is essential for the supervisor to ensure that during the test:
- the student is paying attention, is ‘on task’ and is not distracted
- the student does not become unduly fatigued
- there is no teaching or helping with the task during the test items (whether from the supervisor or other students)
- there is no ‘cheating’ — this may take the form of the student placing his or her hands on the computer screen to circumvent the memory element of the test (e.g. in Cave).
- feedback from the supervisor is minimised and encouragement consistent
Giving encouragement, prompts and feedback
As much as possible, the supervisor should avoid giving specific feedback to students during a test, because this may influence their behaviour in an undesirable fashion. There is a risk of feedback differentially affecting students, so that some are encouraged and others discouraged. LASS itself provides limited feedback (e.g. ‘good’) where appropriate. Nevertheless, some students will try to elicit additional feedback from the supervisor about their performance. This may take the form of both verbal and non-verbal behaviours. For example, the student may ask directly if they were correct. Many students will look for the supervisor’s facial and bodily reactions to their responses. Some students may even try to evaluate the supervisor’s reaction by observing the supervisor’s reflection in the monitor screen. For these reasons it is usually preferable that the supervisor sits to the side and slightly behind the student to minimise any feedback to the students which may bias the results.
Rather than specific feedback, general encouragement should be given to the student. This encouragement should be referenced to task completion rather than task accuracy and ideally should be delivered equitably to all students. However, it is inevitable that some students will require more encouragement than others, and where this is the case the teacher should be mindful of the possibility of influencing results unduly. Differential encouragement between students is likely to have an influence on the results obtained, and therefore should be avoided where possible. Some key phrases and general incentive prompts which may be used to aid the administration of the tests include: “well done”; “you were good at that game (or level), now try the next one”; “you will like this game”; “now concentrate on this”; “try hard”; “listen very carefully”; “have a go at these ones”; “have a try”; “just do your best”.
Unless it is felt absolutely necessary, prompting during the actual test items should be kept to a minimum. For the most part any necessary prompting should occur during the pauses between test levels and the tests themselves. However, these prompts must be used with careful consideration. It is very important that any prompting should not significantly affect the students’ performances differentially. Ideally these prompts should be given to every student equally and be utilised as general encouragement in order to maintain concentration. They should not be related to students’ specific accuracy performances, which is likely to lead to students receiving differential encouragement due to the fact that some students will inevitably perform better than others.
Keeping a comments record
It is recommended that the teacher keeps a brief written record of the student’s behaviour at each time of LASS testing, particularly noting such factors as health, tiredness, attention, concentration, distractions, and general motivation. A template Comments Sheet is provided in the Appendices of this manual (see Section 9.3, page 101). This may be photocopied or printed freely and used for recording any observations during testing. This record can then be referred to when interpreting the student’s LASS profile. The teacher should particularly be on the lookout for colds and coughs, which not only disturb concentration but which can also affect hearing.
The following are examples of suggestions regarding completion of the LASS Comments Sheet:
Testing Room: e.g. ‘quiet room’, ‘classroom — noisy’ (also mention any uncomfortable conditions)
Health: e.g. ‘good’, ‘had bad cold’, ‘coughing’ (also mention any other health factors)
Attention: e.g. ‘good’, ‘fair’, ‘distracted’, ‘tired’
Other comments: e.g. ‘over-confident’, ‘responded very quickly’, ‘nervous at first’, ‘did not understand instructions’, ‘could not hear computer properly’, ‘unconfident — kept asking “Is that right?”’
Abandoning a test prematurely
Very occasionally, an administrator will want to abandon a test before the student has completed it. This necessity may arise as a result of some unforeseen circumstances, which may interfere with the smooth progress of the assessment. You can quit from a test prematurely by waiting until the mouse pointer is visible and then press the F4 key once. It may take a few seconds to respond before you are returned to the menu screen. The student cannot restart the test where they left off (a consequence of this would be to invalidate the results). It may be necessary for the student to attempt the test at a later date depending on the reason for premature abandonment. Premature exiting from a test is generally used for demonstration purposes rather than in real testing situations. Students should NOT be instructed or allowed to use the F4 key, which should only be used in extreme circumstances because all of the data for that partial attempt will be lost.
Re-testing with LASS 11-15
Teachers often ask ‘How soon can a student be re-tested with LASS 11-15?’ The answer depends on why re-testing is being considered. If the teacher has good reason to believe that a given result is not truly indicative of a student’s ability because of some hindrance factor, then retesting can be as soon as is convenient (see Section 7.11 for an illustration of this). For example, this would be the case if a student had a cold and could not hear the words, was unwell and not able to concentrate, was excessively nervous, or because there were unexpected distractions in the room. Obviously efforts should be made to ensure that those hindrance factors have been resolved before re-testing. To retest, either re-register the student with an amended name (e.g. Williams2 if the original surname was Williams) or use the ‘Fine Tuning’ menu in Reports and Administration to wipe the test(s) from the original testing session. See the LASS Software Guide.
If the teacher wishes to see if the student has improved as a result of some intervention then a sensible interval should be allowed before re-testing. In general, three months would be recommended as the minimum interval, but this could be less if the teacher had good reason for doing so. Repeated re-testing at short intervals is not advisable, because under those circumstances any ability or attainment test is likely to show spurious improvements in performance by virtue of practice effects.
Problems of time-shortage for testing
In cases where teachers wish to administer all the tests in the LASS suite, but are prevented from doing so because of lack of time, useful strategies for solving time-shortage problems include:
- Ensuring that administration of LASS is part of school policy and that appropriate staff time is allocated for it on the timetable, rather than expecting teachers somehow to create the time on top of their other responsibilities. Giving LASS to students does take time, but all teachers in the school should accept that it is time well spent, because the information gained is valuable in their education.
- Encouraging staff to recognise that LASS is a useful educational activity in its own right. The tests are mentally stimulating and involve use of concepts and skills which are vitally important in learning. Hence time spent by teachers and students on the tests has a wider educational value.
- Only minimal supervision is necessary, once a student is clear about what any given LASS test requires. It is not essential for the teacher to observe the whole test administration, and the student’s performance can be inspected later via the Data Tables — see Section 2.4.3.
- Training non-teaching personnel to administer LASS. Although it is essential that interpretation of LASS results is carried out by an experienced teacher or other suitably qualified professional, administration of the tests can be done by any adult who understands the essentials of what the task involves. In particular, that they are tests, so the student needs to understand what is required, but the tester is not permitted to coach the student or give hints to the answers. In many schools LASS tests are being successfully and efficiently delivered by various non-teaching personnel, such as classroom assistants, parents, volunteers or school governors. However, it is not advisable to use older students to supervise testing.
- Registering all students in a block is more time-efficient than registering students singly at the time of testing. LASS can therefore import cohorts of new students using a comma-separated text file which may have originated as output from a schools management system.
- Giving all students in the class the same LASS test, before moving on to another test. That way, the tester can get into a ‘rhythm’ and does not have to re-adjust the delivery of each different test.
- Organising activities in order to use available time most effectively. Using breaks or lunchtime can work in some cases. Amalgamating classes for some activities can free up one teacher who can use that time to administer LASS.
- Operating an efficient ‘queuing’ system, so that the teacher does not have to waste time locating the next student and bringing that student to the computer for assessment. Often, older students can assist in this type of organisation, but it is not recommended that older students should assume responsibility for supervision of the assessments themselves.
Assessing students outside the age range for LASS 11-15
Like all good normative tests, LASS 11-15 is not generally recommended for use outside its specified age range. Any test which meets basic psychometric criteria (which LASS does) must be standardised on a given population and this will determine the range of applicability of the test. LASS 11-15 is designed for use with students aged 11 years 0 months to 15 years 11 months. Use with students outside this range can create difficulties for interpreting results. If the student is older than 15:11, then the program will use the norms for 15-year-old when analysing results and this could lead to an overestimation of the student’s performance. Similarly, if the student is younger than 11:0, then the program will use the norms for 11-year-old when analysing results, and this could lead to an underestimation of the student’s performance. 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’) when the evidence for this is unsound.
The preferred solution to the assessment of students older than 15 years 11 months is to use LADS [Lucid Adult Dyslexia Screening] (Singleton, Horne and Thomas, 2002), which is designed for ages 16:0 upwards), and for students younger than 11 years 0 months the solution is to use LASS 8-11 (8:0–11:11). For information on these assessment products, contact Lucid Research Limited or visit the website www.lucid-research.com
When tests appropriate to the student’s chronological age are not suitable or available, it is permissible to use LASS 11-15 outside the stipulated age range. Examples include (a) a very bright or advanced nine-year-old (who would find the LASS 8-11 tests too easy); (b) a student of sixteen or over who has moderate or severe learning difficulties (and so intellectually would still be within the range covered by LASS 11-15); and (c) adults who have limited educational skills, e.g. due to social or educational disadvantage (such individuals are often encountered in prisons and youth offender units). In such cases, LASS 11-15 results should always be interpreted with caution – see Section 4.5.
When LASS 11-15 is used outside the stipulated age range, age equivalents would be the preferred form of scores for the teacher or administrator to consider. An age equivalent is defined as the chronological age range of individuals that would be expected to achieve a given raw score (or, in the case of the LASS 11-15 adaptive tests, adaptive score). Some teachers working in special education prefer to use age equivalents rather than centile scores, because age equivalents enable them to conceptualise the ability level of the student they are teaching, and so pitch the work at the correct level. For further information about using age equivalents see Section 4.5.
Assessing students who have limited English
Assessment of any student who has limited proficiency in spoken English is often problematic. But there is evidence that LASS is better than many conventional methods of assessment, because of its strongly visual format and minimal reliance on spoken instructions. The practice items enable most students, even those with very little English, to understand the tasks, and where there is uncertainty a teacher or assistant who speaks the student’s mother tongue can help with explaining instructions. Case studies of students for whom English is an additional language (EAL) are given in Section 7.10. Like most students with limited English, these students responded well to the assessment and extremely valuable information was obtained.
It is sometimes found that EAL students gain low scores on certain LASS tests (particularly those assessing literacy skills), which mainly reflects their lack of experience with English. When interpreting the results of these tests, teachers may find it more helpful to use age equivalents rather than centile scores (see Section 4.5 for guidance on how to calculate and use age equivalents). However, on the memory and reasoning tests in LASS scores will normally reflect their true abilities, as these are largely unaffected by language factors (provided the student can cope with the digits 1–9 in spoken and written form in order to attempt Mobile).
There is some evidence that phonological skills of bilingual students can be assessed in the majority language (in this case English) when no suitable test in the minority language (which would be these students’ first language) is available. Miller Guron and Lundberg (2003) found that, given sufficient exposure to the majority language, bilingual students whose mother tongue is a minority language may be expected to score comparably on tests of phonological ability and nonword reading in the majority language (in that particular study, Swedish), and thus poor scores on phonological and nonword tests can be taken as indicative cognitive deficits due to dyslexia rather than necessarily being attributed to lack of experience in the majority language. This result is consistent with findings by Frederickson and Frith (1998) and Everatt et al (2000) that non-dyslexic bilingual students can show normal nonword reading and even enhanced rapid naming skills, possibly as a consequence of the additional demands placed on phonological systems when coping in a multilingual environment. Although further research in needed in this area, the evidence available to date suggests that assessment of phonological ability (such as Segments) and phonic skills (Nonwords) in English can reveal difficulties of a dyslexic nature even in students for whom English is an additional language, although obviously teachers have to use caution when interpreting the test results of such students.
For further information on assessment of learning difficulties in literacy (including dyslexia) in EAL students and other multilingual students, see Cline (2000), Cline and Frederickson (1999), Cline and Shamsi (2000), Durkin (2000), and Peer and Reid (2000).
Students with co-ordination difficulties
Students with co-ordination difficulties may experience problems in using the mouse. In some cases, an adapted mouse device may need to be used when assessing disabled students. However, slowness or difficulty in using the mouse should not make any significant difference to a student’s performance on LASS. Thus, even if a student is totally inexperienced with using a mouse (a rare thing these days) and is consequently very slow, the LASS scores will still be a valid measure of their performance. This is because the tests are not speeded (a ‘speeded’ test is one in which the individual can increase their score by working faster, although in practice there will always tend to be a speed-accuracy trade-off). Although the time taken is recorded and shown in the Data Tables (so that teachers can take this into account when interpreting tests if they wish), it is not scored, as such. In Cave there is a (fairly generous) time limit (the student has to put the phantoms in their correct positions before the candle burns out). If the teacher suspects that this will create significant problems for the student, or where extreme inefficiency with the mouse is affecting the student’s confidence, it is permissible for the teacher to use the mouse and move the phantoms on the student’s behalf. In such situations, it will be necessary to decide beforehand on an agreed scheme of signals or verbal instructions to be given by the student (e.g. the student points at the target on the screen and the teacher uses the mouse to click on that target). Alternatively, a touch screen, which plugs into the mouse port, may be used instead of the mouse.
In some cases a student may be slow on a LASS test because they are finding it hard — i.e. the cognitive load is high. However, if the test is far too difficult the student may appear very speedy because responses are being made at random. Such situations should happen rarely in LASS, because the tests are mainly adaptive — i.e. they automatically adjust to the student’s ability level.
Sometimes the distinction between students who are slow in using the mouse (perhaps because of inexperience or lack of confidence) and those with more serious motor co-ordination difficulties may be tricky for the teacher. Students with motor co-ordination problems used to be called ‘clumsy pupils’ (Gubbay, 1975) but are now officially described as having ‘Developmental Co-ordination Disorder’ (DCD) (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). They are students who have some difficulty in performing skilled, purposive movements, which cannot be attributed to mental abnormality or physical deformity. In adults who have acquired such problems (typically due to stroke or head injury) the term ‘apraxia’ is normally used, ‘praxis’ being defined as the ability to manipulate and deal intelligently with objects in the environment (Ayres, 1985). Thus in students who have similar problems, the related term dyspraxia (or developmental dyspraxia) is also often used.
Developmental dyspraxia covers a range of childhood disorders affecting the initiation, organisation and performance of action (Ayres, 1988; Fisher et al., 1991). However, there is no universal agreement amongst neuropsychologists and neurologists about the categorisation of such problems because dyspraxic students do not form a homogeneous group. Some seem to have problems more at the planning stage of skilled action, others more with the execution of actions. Furthermore, successful actions must usually be underpinned by a number of visual processes as well as motor ones and it may be the case that these visual processes are faulty as well as (or instead of) the motor ones (Lord and Hulme, 1987).
Assessment of dyspraxia can cover a very wide range of tasks, including manipulation of small objects, shape copying by drawing, imitating and repetition of actions and postures, ability to co-ordinate arms and legs together, throwing, catching, jumping and skipping. Both large and small muscles may be involved, as well as fast and slow actions. Well-known tests of motor coordination include the Test of Motor Impairment (Stott et al., 1984) and the Movement ABC (Henderson and Sugden, 1992). Scores are sometimes averaged to give a ‘motor age’ but this is not usually very useful, because it is possible for a student to have a co-ordination difficulty in one area and not another. Thus a limited range of tasks may fail to identify a real difficulty and an overall measure may be misleading (Anderson and Fairgrieve, 1996; Beardsworth and Harding, 1996).
For the above reasons, the incidence of DCD is difficult to establish with any certainty. Figures vary according to the procedures used to assess the students. Reviewing this, Hoare and Larkin (1991) conclude that it is safe to assume that about one student in 10 has co-ordination difficulties, although these will vary in severity. Studies generally report a higher incidence in boys than in girls (Piek and Edwards, 1997). Evidence provided by Knuckey and Gubbay (1983) suggests that some young students with observed DCD have a delay in maturation and will eventually ‘grow out of it’. Labelling such students ‘clumsy’ at an early age may consequently be harmful. On the other hand, several recent studies indicate that long-term effects of DCD are common, including continuing motor difficulties as well as a variety of social, educational and emotional problems (see Piek and Edwards, 1997 for a review). Because of this, many educationalists now believe that it is desirable to identify students with DCD as early as possible in their school lives, because it may affect their educational progress, and as such come within the heading ‘Special Educational Needs’.
For an overview of the current state of knowledge on motor co-ordination disorders in students, see Sugden and Wright (1998). Guidance on assessing motor organisation and dyspraxia is given by Chapman and Ripley (1999). General advice for teachers and parents is provided by Ripley, Daines and Barrett (1997).
Students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD)
‘Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder’ (AD/HD) is the medical term for students who, in the past, would have usually been called ‘hyperactive’. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — DSM–IV (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) distinguishes three types of ADHD:
- Type 1: the student with AD/HD who is predominantly inattentive
- Type 2: the student with AD/HD who is predominantly hyperactive and impulsive
- Type 3: the student with AD/HD who is both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive
In the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases — ICD–10 (WHO, 1990), the term ‘Hyperkinetic Disorder’ corresponds to DSM-IV type 3. It can be seen that the symptoms of AD/HD do not just concern hyperactivity — i.e. restlessness, difficulty with sitting still, excessive movement or fidgeting. Rather, such students are equally, or even more, likely to have problems in sustaining attention on the task in hand, inhibiting impulsive responding, and generally in regulating and controlling behaviour. The causes of AD/HD are uncertain, but the evidence for a biological basis is strong, with pre-natal and birth complications being most frequently cited in the research literature. Evidence for AD/HD being due to food allergies is rather weak, but there is some evidence that hypersensitivity to aspects of nutrition (e.g. sugars and food additives) can be a feature in individual cases of AD/HD (Hinshaw, 1994). There is considerable national variation in the incidence of AD/HD, which largely reflects differences in culture and diagnostic criteria. In the US, incidence is reported to be between 3–8% of students, while in the UK it is only about 0.5% (Barkley, 1990). Approximately 35% of students with diagnosed AD/HD have delays in reading, spelling, writing, and/or mathematics. Obviously these learning problems could be the result of poor attention and concentration in the learning situation (i.e. an indirect effect of AD/HD). In addition it has been suggested that students with AD/HD have problems with working memory, which affects learning directly, because information is not stored properly nor is it retrieved fluently and reliably. Treatment for AD/HD usually involves a combination of psychological methods (e.g. behaviour modification) and pharmacological methods (e.g. use of the drug Ritalin), but good educational management and committed parent involvement is crucial (Goldstein and Goldstein, 1990, 1992).
Students with AD/HD are liable to experience difficulty with many types of assessment (not just computerised assessment) because of inattention and impulsiveness in responding. In cases of AD/HD students, teachers should therefore be prepared to take such factors into consideration when interpreting the results of LASS tests. On the other hand, LASS tests are typically found to be more stimulating than conventional tests, so students with AD/HD will generally remain engaged and attentive for longer than might be expected. To maintain engagement and interest, however, and ensure that results are as reliable as possible, it is recommended that only one test per session should be administered to students with AD/HD.
For practical guidance on identifying and teaching students with AD/HD, the book by Cooper and Ideus (1996) is recommended.