The RESCA-E Subtests Are Thoughtfully Designed and Highly Refined Measures of CHC Constructs

A Review of the Receptive, Expressive & Social Communication Assessment–Elementary

W. Joel Schneider

2016-06-28

Conflict of Interest Statement: ATP Assessments, the publisher of the RESCA-E, commissioned me to write a descriptive account of the likely relations among the RESCA-E subtests and CHC Theory constructs. I billed them for the hours that I spent researching this topic and writing my thoughts on the matter. However, I was so impressed the the RESCA-E that I wanted to write a short review of it, and I also conducted additional analyses about its structure. Because ATP Assessments did not ask for my opinion about the quality of the RESCA-E nor for the statistical analyses I conducted, I did not bill for the many additional hours I spent on these activities. If I were not impressed with the RESCA-E, this document would have been much shorter.

Introduction

The Receptive, Expressive & Social Communication Assessment–Elementary (RESCA-E) is a new measure of language abilities for children in the elementary school years. The purpose of this review is to evaluate the RESCA-E in terms of the Cattell-Horn-Carroll Theory of Cognitive Abilities (CHC theory; McGrew, 2005McGrew, K. S. (2005). The Cattell-Horn-Carroll Theory of Cognitive Abilities: Past, present, and future. In D. P. Flanagan & P. L. Harrison (Eds.), Contemporary intellectual assessment. theories, tests, and issues (2nd ed., pp. 136–181). New York: Guilford Press.; Schneider & McGrew, 2012Schneider, W. J., & McGrew, K. S. (2012). The Cattell-Horn-Carroll model of intelligence. In D. P. Flanagan & P. L. Harrison (Eds.), Contemporary intellectual assessment: Theories, tests and issues (3rd ed., pp. 99–144). New York: Guilford Press.). However, some preliminary remarks about the test’s design are in order.

First Impressions

Modest elegance, by its nature, attracts little praise. I will do my part here to rectify this injustice. The RESCA-E test materials, stimuli, and protocols are designed for practical efficiency but sacrifice nothing in aesthetic appeal. This might not seem to matter, but it does. Spending time with ugly, frustrating test materials makes one yearn for early retirement.

The application of sound typographical principles has enhanced the readability and ease of use of the protocol; the whole document is thoughtfully coded by font, color, and shading. The protocol does not feel cramped; it has generous space for notes, yet no space is wasted. Sure, the designers could have shortened the protocol by making everything smaller and more compact, but that would have been penny wise, pound foolish. This same care and consistency was extended to everything in the test kit.

Looking Deeper

I do not know the test’s authors, Patricia Hamaguchi and Deborah Ross-Swain, and I have had no contact with them. Yet, I can tell something about their work process and their scholarly values. To someone who has never tried to design an ability test, it may not be obvious that the RESCA-E subtest items were labored over for untold hours until they were just right. In most test batteries I find several items (or whole subtests) that seem a bit off, like bum notes in a singer’s solo. I found none here. The items are so smoothly written that they draw no attention to themselves—no small feat.

Even more importantly, the item content reflects a deep understanding on the part of the authors of what matters in the evaluation of children. No item is merely easy or merely difficult, chosen to meet some psychometric need. No, each item is intended to measure something substantial and relevant to everyday functioning. A rare patience was required to keep working with each item until it was easy to understand, quick to administer, and simple to score, all the while remaining clinically relevant, yet psychometrically sound. For this accomplishment, Patricia Hamaguchi, Deborah Ross-Swain, and their associates at ATP Assessments deserve a tip of the hat and hearty congratulations.

CHC Theory: A Work in Progress

Because a complete description of CHC theory can be found in Schneider and McGrew (2012), no space will be wasted on a summary here. Figure 1 displays the broad abilities arranged conceptually.