Assessing working memory

In November 2012, the SpLD Assessment Standards Committee, SASC, published guidelines saying that the Digit Memory Test would no longer be accepted for DSA reports after the end of the current academic year (2012-2013).  This assessment was standardised in 2003 by Turner and Ridsdale, using a very small UK sample. It was available free of charge from Dyslexia Action and took about five minutes to administer.

Dyslexia Positive looked into the alternatives all of which are expensive and potentially time consuming.

  • TOMAL 2

This consists of a set of different visual and verbal memory tests.  There are 3 core indices: verbal memory, non-verbal memory and composite memory, plus 6 supplementary indices: verbal delayed recall, attention/concentration, sequential recall, free recall, associative recall and learning.

Advice given at the Patoss conference in April 2013 suggested that it may be acceptable to complete  digits forward, letters forward, digits backward, letters backward and manual imitation, i.e. the 5 subtests leading to the attention/concentration index.

This strategy reduces the time needed for this aspect of assessment, but still requires a substantial cost to purchase the kit.

  • NAB

This test is also under threat of withdrawal by SASC, so not particularly worth considering, unless you already have it for now.

  • AWMA

An online tool, dependent on having a viable internet connection, and subject to an annual subscription for its use.  Screener: 5 to 7 minutes.  Short form: 10 – 15 minutes.  long form: 45 minutes.

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