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posted on 08.07.2021, 04:31 authored by Catherine Billard, Eric Thiébaut, Sahawanatou Gassama, Monique Touzin, Jean-Christophe Thalabard, Anne Mirassou, Arnold Munnich

Background: Learning disabilities in children are a major public health concern worldwide, having a prevalence of 8%. They are associated with lost social, educational, and ultimately, professional opportunities for individuals. These disabilities are also very costly to governments and raise the issue of the appropriate means of screening. Unfortunately, validated tools for preliminary appraisal of learning and cognitive function in struggling children are presently restricted to specific age ranges and cognitive domains. This study sought to validate a first-line battery for assessment of academic skills and cognitive functions.

Materials and Methods: The computerized Adaptable Test Battery, or BMT-i, includes a panel of tests for the first-line assessment of children's academic skills and cognitive functions. The tests reflect expected abilities for the age group in question, exploring academic skills (written language and mathematical cognition) and cognitive domains (verbal, non-verbal, and attentional/executive functions). The authors relied on the results of these tests for a sample of 1,074 Francophone children representative of the mainland French school-age population (522 boys and 552 girls, ages 4–13, from 39 classes at 7 public and 5 private schools). Thirteen speech-language pathologists and neuropsychologists individually administered the tests.

Results: The psychometric characteristics of the empirical data obtained showed acceptable to good test homogeneity, internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha: > 0.70), test-retest reliability (intraclass correlation coefficients: ~0.80), and consistency with reference test batteries (r: 0.44–0.96).

Conclusion: The BMT-i was validated in a large sample of children in mainstream French schools, paving the way for its use in first-line screening of learning disabilities among children with complaints, whether their learning difficulties have been flagged by their parents or by their teachers.

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