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Percept Mot Skills. 2005 Aug;101(1):72-8.

Diagnosing children's writing disabilities: different tests give different results.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Penn State College of Medicine, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, PA 17033, USA.


Writing problems are common in children with clinical disorders. However, there are significant intra-individual differences between the ability to spell words, construct sentences, and compose text. Therefore, achievement tests measuring different writing skills may not be consistent in identifying children who have these various writing disabilities. Our study compared scores on the Woodcock-Johnson Written Language subtests (which measure the ability to produce single words and single sentences) with scores on the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test Written Expression subtest (which assesses compositional writing skills) in 54 children referred by their teachers to a school psychologist for writing problems. The Woodcock-Johnson only identified 35% of children as having significant writing problems, whereas the Wechsler test identified 78%. Our study suggests that the latter is more likely than the Woodcock-Johnson to identify students who have problems in compositional writing.

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