Buros Center for Testing


Date of this Version


Document Type



Carlson, J. F., & Anderson, N. (2015, November). Strategies and resources to enhance test evaluation and selection. Poster presented at the 2015 ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) Convention, Denver, CO.


Copyright 2015 Janet F. Carlson & Nancy Anderson


Testing serves an important function for SLPs in offering an evidence base that is useful in screening, diagnosing, monitoring progress, and documenting outcomes. Tests are used to measure diverse constructs such as communication, literacy, oral and written language, receptive and expressive vocabulary, articulation, phonological awareness and processing, and auditory perception and processing. In addition, specific impairments may require specialized measures to evaluate conditions such as stuttering and orthographic competence.

When using tests to diagnose language impairments, Betz, Eickhoff, and Sullivan (2013) suggest that SLPs consider carefully a test’s psychometric properties, particularly because of the “increasing emphasis on evidence-based practice, specifically, the requirement to validate clinical decisions regarding assessment and treatment” (p. 142). Kirk and Vigeland (2014) echo these sentiments in stating, “It would be helpful to have evidence-based practice guidelines that provide recommendations for determining the psychometric adequacy of norm-referenced tests” (p. 375). At the 2014 ASHA conference, Pavello and Ireland reviewed psychometric and other considerations that influence test selection.

For nearly 80 years, the Buros Center has published independent reviews of commercially available English language tests in its Mental Measurements Yearbook (MMY) series, currently in its nineteenth volume (Carlson, Geisinger, & Jonson, 2014). Each volume provides reviews of tests across a wide range of categories, including Language and Speech & Hearing. Cizek, Koons, and Rosenberg (2011) observed that “the MMY series is unique in that it serves as an independent source of evaluations of specific tests . . . [and] is widely considered to be the most accurate, complete, and authoritative source of information about published tests” (p. 123). However, as the MMY editors carefully note, “The [MMY] series was developed to stimulate critical thinking and assist in the selection of the best available test for a given purpose, not to promote the passive acceptance of reviewer judgment” (Carlson et al., 2014, p. xiii). In a similar vein, Thorndike (1999) advised that MMY reviews “must be supplemented by a thorough knowledge of the situation for which a test is desired and by mature professional judgment on the part of the prospective user” (p. 50).

This poster session presents a framework for test evaluation and selection to inform decisions about standardized tests used by SLPs within their practices or research. Examples of reviews of tests illustrate best practices in test evaluation. Resources to promote the application of critical thinking skills to test evaluation and selection are provided.

Includes Resources handout