Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 55 (June 2012), pp. 754–763; doi: 10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0216)


Copyright © 2012 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Used by permission.


Purpose: The present work describes how vocabulary ability as assessed by 3 different forms of the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT; Dunn & Dunn, 1997) can be placed on a common latent metric through item response theory (IRT) modeling, by which valid comparisons of ability between samples or over time can then be made.

Method: Responses from 2,625 cases in a longitudinal study of 697 persons for 459 unique PPVT items (175 items from Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test—Revised [PPVT–R] Form M [Dunn & Dunn, 1981], 201 items from Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test—3 [PPVT–3] Form A [Dunn & Dunn, 1997], and 83 items from PPVT–3 Form B [Dunn & Dunn, 1997]) were analyzed using a 2-parameter logistic IRT model.

Results: The test forms each covered approximately ±3 SDs of vocabulary ability with high reliability. Some differences between item sets in item difficulty and discrimination were found between the PPVT–3 Forms A and B.

Conclusions: Comparable estimates of vocabulary ability obtained from different test forms can be created through IRT modeling. The authors have also written a freely available SAS program that uses the obtained item parameters to provide IRT ability estimates given item responses to any of the 3 forms. This scoring resource will allow others with existing PPVT data to benefit from this work as well.

SAS program for Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) scoring is attached (below) in a .zip folder.

Hoffman (50 kB)
SAS program for Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) scoring