Creating a Brief Rating Scale for the Assessment of Learning Disabilities Using Reliability and True Score Estimates of the Scale's Items Based on the Rasch Model
The purpose of the present studies was to provide the means to create brief versions of instruments that can aid the diagnosis and classification of students with learning disabilities and comorbid disorders (e.g., attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder). A sample of 1,108 students with and without a diagnosis of learning disabilities took part in Study 1. Using information from modern theory methods (i.e., the Rasch model), a scale was created that included fewer than one third of the original battery items designed to assess reading skills. This best item synthesis was then evaluated for its predictive and criterion validity with a valid external reading battery (Study 2). Using a sample of 232 students with and without learning disabilities, results indicated that the brief version of the scale was equally effective as the original scale in predicting reading achievement. Analysis of the content of the brief scale indicated that the best item synthesis involved items from cognition, motivation, strategy use, and advanced reading skills. It is suggested that multiple psychometric criteria be employed in evaluating the psychometric adequacy of scales used for the assessment and identification of learning disabilities and comorbid disorders.