PIAT-RNU Reliability Review

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The Normative Update of the Revised Peabody Individual Achievement Test - A Review of Reliability Jenna M. Powell Lamar University



Abstract Individually administered achievement tests are delivered to students for a variety of reasons. The Peabody Individual Achievement Test (PIAT) is one that was originally created in 1970 by Frederick C. Markwardt, Jr., PhD. The purpose of the test was to assess academic achievement for students in grades kindergarten to grade 12 (K-12). Originally, five subtest subjects were created to achieve this goal. In 1986, this test was revised and a total of six subtests existed. A sample of 1,563 students in grades K-12 were tested in the United States for the 1986 revision and the results were carefully analyzed through several methods of reliability testing. The content implemented during the revision remains the same, however, in 1995-6, the normative update was created and 3,184 students were sampled. The testing process of the normative update involved four other individually administered achievement tests using an approach called the domain-norming approach. Each student was given one of the five full tests as well as one or several subtests, ensuring one-fifth of each grade level received the PIAT-R. Normative update results of 1996 were then compared with the revised results of 1986.

This reliability review mainly focuses on the revision and normative update of the PIAT. It also discusses each subtest and describes the sampling process, norm development, reliability testing methods, demographic variables used, and administration and interpretation process.



The Normative Update of the Revised Peabody Individual Achievement Test - A Review of Reliability

The Peabody Individual Achievement Test (PIAT-R/NU) is the revised/normative updated version of the classic 1970 version of the Peabody Individual Achievement Test (PIAT), an individually administered measure of academic achievement. The test was revised in 1989 and 1997 is when the norms were updated. Frederick Markwardt, Jr. designed the test to evaluate the academic achievement of students in kindergarten through the 12th grade (K-12) in six areas of content known as the subtests. The test contains two main formats: multiple choice and free response which includes verbal and writing components. A major feature of the revision is the addition of the Written Expression subtest. The subtests are: (a) General Information, (b) Reading recognition, (c) Reading Comprehension, (d) Mathematics, (e) Spelling, and the newest subtest, and (f) Written Expression. Along with the six subtests, there are three composites. They are (a) Total Reading, (b) Total Test, and (c) Written Language Composite. (Markwardt, 1997) During the revision, the order of subtests was changed in hopes of increasing the subjects motivation as well as interest level. (Markwardt, 1997) The General Information subtest measures the general knowledge of the subject and the question is read verbally with an oral response to follow. The Reading Recognition subtest is an oral reading test the subject reads items out loud. In the Reading Comprehension subtest, the subject reads a sentence and chooses a picture to illustrate what the sentence stated, measuring the comprehension of what they read. Multiple choice is offered for the Mathematics subtest, which measures conceptual application and knowledge of mathematical facts. All items are arranged in ascending difficulty order. The



Spelling subtest measures the ability to recognize letters from sounds at the beginning of the subtest and then items are measured by the subjects recognition of standardized spellings in a later part of the subtest. In the newest subtest, Written Expression, there are two levels. Level One is for kindergarten through first grade and the subject is asked to copy and write letters, words and sentences from dictation. Level Two is for grades 2-12 and the subject is asked to write a story after being shown a picture. (Markwardt, 1997)

The PIAT-R items measure functional knowledge and general abilities that are not specific to a particular curriculum. This test is objectively scored without a time constraint, although the average time administration time is about 60 minutes. PIAT-R is helpful when a scholastic survey is needed and it helps in the selection of a more diagnostic instrument. The Total Reading composite is obtained by summing the reading recognition and reading comprehension subtests raw scores. The Total Test composite is determined by the sum of the general information, reading recognition, reading comprehension, math and spelling subtests raw scores. Finally, the Written Language composite is the sum of scaled scores for the spelling and written expression subtests. (Markwardt, 1997)

The test is administered individually, due to the design and materials involved. There are four test plates and test easels which contain all six subtests. These plates are created specifically to capture and hold the interest of each subject, regardless of sex, age, intellect, and cultural background. In an attempt to balance the representation of ethnic groups, sex and race among the test items, contemporary artwork is used throughout the test. (Markwardt, 1997)



The PIAT-R is based on a national sample of 1,563 subjects that were tested in the spring of 1986. (Markwardt, 1997) These subjects are representative of the total school population (K-12) based on parental socioeconomic status, sex, geographic region, race/ethnic group and grade. Information obtained was based on U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Population. This sample size is extremely small and limits actual representation. The parental socioeconomic status was divided into four categories: less than high school education, high school graduate, one to three years of college or education beyond high school, and four or more years of college. 42 percent were at the high school graduate level, while the other three ranged from 18.9 percent to 19.9 percent. The target value for sex was 50 percent and they came very close to their target with female subjects totaling 50.1 percent and males subjects totaling 49.9 percent. Geographic region was divided into four categories and did not include Hawaii or Alaska. The four divisions and percentages of students are: Northeast with 19.1 percent, North Central with 25.6 percent, South with 32.8 percent, and finally West with the remaining 20.6 percent. The divisions given are a close comparison to percentage of population per region according to Markwardt, however, only 20 states are represented out of the upper 48. This is not a fair depiction of every student in the upper 48 in grades K-12. Race/ethnic group was also divided into four categories. The categories and student percentages are as follows: White was the majority with 73.3 percent, Black with 14.3 percent, Hispanic with 9.7 percent and Other with 2.7 percent. The Other category includes Asians, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and Alaskan Natives. (Markwardt, 1997) According to the US Population data in 1985, the other category is 3.2 percent and only 2.7 percent is represented in this study.



Before we discuss the major uses of the PIAT-R, lets discuss the differences from the 1970 version and the most current, 1989 revised edition. As mentioned above, the most notable changes are the order of subtest and the addition of the Written Expression subtest. The primary reason for revision, however, was to bring in more current content. A small 35 percent of the original items remained from the PIAT to the PIAT-R. (Markwardt, 1997) Another addition was the Total Reading composite score, which measures overall achievement in the area of reading. The revision also consisted of increasing the number of items in the original five subtests. In four subtests (General Information, Math, Reading Recognition, and Spelling), the items went from 84 to 100, while in Reading Comprehension, the number went from 66 to 82 items. (Markwardt, 1997)

There are seven major implemental uses for the PIAT-R according to Markwardt. The first is called individual evaluation, which helps gain insight to the subjects existing knowledge, strength and weakness of education and testing behavior. Program planning is another way the PIAT-R is used. This helps develop a course of action to meet unique needs of the subject. The test can also help aid parents and students understand the subjects strengths and weaknesses when deciding future plans through guidance and counseling. Once the subjects general level of accomplishment is determined, school placement is easily achieved and the subject can also be transferred or admitted to a new school determined on these scores. This test is also used to group students by achievement level. The follow-up evaluation provides a measure of educational intervention at times when a more precise test is appropriate. The final use is termed personnel selection and training. The subjects level of achievement is used for employment selection or guiding employee to educational programs as appropriate. In addition to the seven



implemental uses of the PIAT-R/NU, there are five research uses. These research uses are: longitudinal, demographic, program evaluation, basic research and validation studies. (Markwardt, 1997)

The administration and interpretation of the PIAT-R is relatively simple. The administer presents items, records responses and then calculates scores. There is only one test manual