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A number of studies have demonstrated that experienced and inexperienced examiners alike make clerical and other errors when scoring Wechsler protocols (Sattler, 1988). Investigations of scoring accuracy have been conducted with the WAIS-R. Ryan, Prifitera, and Powers (1983) conducted a prototypical study of the different scores obtained when the same record forms are scored by numerous subjects who vary in their level of experience, and Jaffe (1983) conducted an innovative study that tried to determine the source of scoring errors that appear repeatedly on the three subjectively scored Verbal subtests. The Nature of Scoring Errors Ryan et al. (1983) compared the scoring accuracy of 19 Ph.D. psychologists averaging 7.3 years experience with that of 20 psychology graduate
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students. Each subject was asked to score two actual test protocols, one of a male and one of a female middle-aged vocational counseling client. The record forms were unchanged and, therefore, did not include an unusual number of ambiguous responses. Nonetheless, both groups of subjects made errors in scoring that produced a large degree of variability in the obtained IQs, which are summarized in Table 6.3. Although the mean IQs for each protocol were almost identical to the actual IQs earned by the clients, the ranges of the IQs were huge, reflecting an abominable number of scoring errors. According to Ryan et al., examination of the separately scored protocols revealed that IQ variability resulted from mechanical errors in scoring, such as incorrectly converting scaled scores to IQs, giving incorrect credit to individual items, and calculation errors in adding raw scores of subtests (p. 149). Although this result is consistent with previous research (Sattler, 1988), it is nevertheless disheartening that the experienced examiners performed just as miserably in this scoring exercise as did the novices; there were no significant group differences for any IQ or scaled score for either protocol when focusing on mean values. However, mean scores are less important than the variability in the scores in a study like this one, and Ryan et al. reported that the experienced examiners had greater variability than did the novices in the Performance IQs of both protocols; hence, the Ph.D. psychologists were more likely to make errors in computing Performance IQs than were the graduate students. This greater degree of variability is evident in Table 6.3; the experienced examiners ranged from 119 to 129 in their computations of Performance IQ of protocol 1 and from 88 to 105 for protocol 2; this carelessness far exceeded that of the graduate students, who produced corresponding reasonable ranges of 122 126 and 98 102, respectively. Across both protocols, the percentages of perfect agreement with the actual IQs are shown in Table 6.4. When both levels of examiners are combined, the percentages of subjects who com-
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TABLE 6.3 The mean and range of the IQs assigned to two actual WAIS-R protocols by experience and inexperienced examiners
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Verbal IQ Experience Level of Examiners Protocol 1 Experienced (19 Ph.D. s) Inexperienced (20 Students) Combined (N = 39) Actual IQs Protocol 2 Experienced (19 Ph.D. s) Inexperienced (20 Students) Combined (N = 39) Actual IQs
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NOTE: Data are from Ryan et al. (1983).
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Performance IQ Mean (Range)
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Full Scale IQ Mean (Range)
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99.4 99.1 99.2
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(96 105) (97 105) (96 105) 99
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(119 129) (122 126) (119 129) 122
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(104 116) (98 116) (98 116) 108
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(88 105) (98 102) (88 105) 99
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Percentage of perfect agreement with actual IQs in Ryan et al. s (1983) investigation of WAIS-R scoring accuracy Verbal IQ Experienced Inexperienced 40% 38% Performance IQ 69% 88% Full Scale IQ 32% 35%
puted IQs within 1 standard error of measurement of the actual IQs were 89% for Verbal IQ, 95% for Performance IQ, and 83% for Full Scale IQ. Yet, how encouraging is it to find out that trained professionals can usually compute a score within 1 SEm of the actual score The standard error of measurement doesn t even include examiner variability as anything more than a minor source of error because, during standardizations, the test protocols are scored and rescored by statistical clerks who check each other s accuracy. In that sense, scoring errors constitute fluctuations in the IQs that are not
fully taken into account by the SEm, and, therefore, represent additional errors over and above the known or built-in chance errors. The degree of error found in the Ryan et al. (1983) study of the WAIS-R is of the same order of magnitude as the scoring errors found in previous studies of other Wechsler scales (Sattler, 1988), including the WAIS (Franklin, Stillman, Burpeau, & Sabers, 1982), but that fact provides little comfort. If 39 subjects in a study that is obviously concerned with scoring accuracy (including about half with considerable clinical experience) come up with a Verbal IQ ranging from 98 to 116