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Evaluations of Need period of Acceptance Extended to 31 December 2020
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As there is a gradual easing of lockdown restrictions some face-to-face assessments will become possible. ...
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STEC is a standard-setting group concerned with the diagnostic assessment of specific learning difficulties in ...
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SLC accepts remote assessments of need for DSA SpLD evidence for limited period

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SpLD assessment tools

The list of suitable tests for the assessment of specific learning difficulties (SpLD) in Higher Education is a key part of the National Assessment Framework for Applications for Disabled Students' Allowances. The purpose of the list is to promote quality and consistency in the Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) process. 

New test lists for Pre-16 and Post-16 age ranges are now available to download from our Downloads page and from the links on this page. The webinar on 4th June will be available as a recording afterwards for further viewing.

STEC [SpLD Test Evaluation Committee] 

STEC is a sub-committee of the SPLD Assessment Standards Committee (SASC). Its purpose is to provide guidance on assessment materials to SASC. Its responsibilities are:

  •      To review and evaluate assessment materials on a regular basis.
  •      To revise and update the test recommendations of the SpLD Working Group 2005/DfES Guidelines.
  •      To maintain a list of approved assessment materials for SpLDs in higher education.
  •     To engage with the publishers and distributors of assessment materials.
  •      To carry out other business as advised by and agreed with SASC.
  •      To report to SASC on a regular basis, including an annual written report to be submitted to SASC‘s AGM by the Chair.

STEC Pre-16 and Post-16 Test Lists, and SASC guidance on aspects of assessment are downloadable from this page. 

The WRAT Expanded has accidentally been left in the Post-16 List Mathematics section. It is a very old test and should not be included. It has now been removed. Updated list titled 'Post 16 Test List June 2020 -amended July 2020'. 

Please share this advice with colleagues and other stakeholders.

Updated editions of tests

It is considered good practice to use the most recent edition of a test or battery. However, older editions of tests can be used for 2 calendar years after the year of publication of the most recent edition of the test, or January 2021 whichever is the later date).  [update June 2020]


Confirming guidance agreed in October, percentiles can be used at the discretion of the assessor but are not considered to be mandatory for APC renewal.  If an assessor chooses to include percentiles in a report, particular care must be taken as they can magnify small differences within the average range (SS 85-115) which may not be significant, yet large differences near the outer limits of the average range can seem reduced.  The standard score must always be given alongside the percentile' [Update April 2015]

Maintaining test standards.

SASC advises it is best practice for assessors not to put examples from test papers of errors in reports at all. Advice for training and assessments should be to not state test items, but only give examples of types of errors being made. Assessors are also  reminded that working papers from assessments should not be made available as these could affect the standardisation of the test. [update issued August 2014]

TAPS-4 Test

TAPS4 has been revised from previous versions and rebranded as a test of language processing skills (as opposed to auditory processing skills). It contains tests of listening comprehension, auditory memory and phonological processing skills. STEC has issued guidance (available at Downloads) including a cautiinary note about the phonological processing tests when assessing adults.TAPS4 has been revised from previous versions and rebranded as a test of language processing skills (as opposed to auditory processing skills). It contains tests of listening comprehension, auditory memory and phonological processing skills. STEC has issued guidance (available at Downloads) including a cautionary note about the phonological processing tests when assessing adults. 

See downloads for full review. [Jan 2019]


The WIAT III UK is now available and as an updated version of the WIAT II is acceptable for assessments for DSA. STEC has issued guidance on use of WIAT-III UK. The publisher has provided additional information about the age range of the test and the US norms. The WIAT III guidance has accordingly been amended, using the publisher's suggested wording which appears in red in the updated guidance. (Sept 2018) This revised guidance is downloadable from our website. 

A separate document comparing the WIAT-II UK with the new WIAT-III UK has also been produced (Dec 2017). These are both accessible from the Downloads page.

Guidance on the use of digital scoring platforms supplied with certain assessment materials.

Assessment test publishers and distributors can offer assessors the opportunity to digitally score test results via platforms they provide.

There are advantages and disadvantages to using such platforms to score test results and assessors may find it helpful to weigh up the pros and cons of using these platforms. This guidance explores some of these pros and cons. [Guidance issued March 2018]

Assessors need to ensure that their use of digital scoring platforms is fully compliant with data protection legislation.

Additional Guidance on the use of the Wide Range Achievement Test 5 (WRAT5) 

The WRAT5 is a re-standardisation of the WRAT4. The guidance downloadable from this website may assist assessors if they are considering purchasing and using this test. Assessors will need to take some time to familiarise themselves with this re-standardised test before use. There are some subtle but important changes that require noting. Some of these changes have been highlighted, in purple, in the guidance but assessors will need to read the Manual and Norms books thoroughly to familiarise themselves with the changes. [Guidance issued March 2018]

FAM [Feifer Assessment of Mathematics] 

The Feifer Assessment of Mathematics has been approved by STEC. Additional information on the test battery can be accessed from our downloads page. (Jan 2018) 

ART-2 (Adult Reading Test 2nd Edition)

The Adult Reading Test, 2nd edition has been approved by STEC. Further guidance has been issued (March 2017) can be accessed from our downloads page.

FAR (Feifer Assessment of Reading) 

The Feifer Assessment of Reading has been approved by STEC. Additional information on the test battery can be accessed from our downloads page. (Jan 2017)

KTEA-3 (Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement 3rd Edition)

Additional guidance on the Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement (3rd edition) has been issued. See link on this page. (update issued June 2016)

TOMAL 2 [Test of Memory and Learning, 2nd edition]

All 5 subtests of the Attention/Concentration Index [ACI] should ideally be administered to enable a fully accurate composite to be calculated.  If for any reason a subtest score has been prorated it would be important for the assessor to clearly indicate in the report that the ACI score has been prorated and hence can only be used for a ‘statistical rather than a clinical purpose' (TOMAL2 p.59).  The manual (p.59) also states ‘Although composites scores that contain a prorated value may be profiled, a specific prorated subtest standard score should neither be profiled nor taken as a reflection of an examinee's memory performance on the subtest the prorated score represent.' Consequently, we would not recommend that the individual subtest prorated score is documented in the report. [update issued August 2014]

Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence® - Second Edition (WASI®-II)  The WASI II is acceptable for DSA assessments in all areas the WASI I was listed. The WASI II is an updated version of the assessment battery. The WASI I is still acceptable as long as the forms are available.

Woodcock-Johnson IV Tests of Achievement UK & Ireland Edition (2014) (WJIVAch) STEC has approved Woodcock-Johnson IV Tests of Achievement UK & Ireland Edition (2014)(WJIVAch)  for inclusion on the list of approved tests. Additional guidance will follow in 2020.

WJIVAch is a battery of 11 attainment subtests, open to Teacher Assessors, which have been adapted for use in the UK but are normed on a US population. It includes 6 core tests of aspects of reading, mathematics, and written language and 5 additional tests which can contribute to evaluating the pattern of strengths and weaknesses within an individual's attainment. It covers an age range of 2 to 90 years.

Woodcock-Reading Mastery Tests: 3rd Edition (WRMT-III).  Pearson. 5-75+ years

STEC approve the revised edition of this test battery with the following cautionary note:


In the absence of the publishers/importers providing (a) a re-standardisation to accommodate UK culture and normative standards and (b) guidance/substituted materials on word/picture/phrase substitutions for Americanisms and other cultural features, STEC advises users to apply the necessary caution when administering the test.  Notwithstanding this point, it is STEC's view that it considers this test useful and appropriate to administer for the purposes intended.

STEC response to recent debate about WRIT

The purpose of an ability test is to eliminate general learning difficulties and to examine potential – the WRIT can do both. A comparison between the WRIT and the WAIS is not particularly helpful as Verbal Analogies and Similarities are not measuring the same thing. Most people using the WRIT are well aware that there is some cultural bias as the test was not developed in the UK.

Tests don't diagnose, people do'. An assessment is a differential diagnosis which uses a battery of tests to come to a conclusion about strengths and weaknesses and does not rely on any individual test for a diagnosis. Specialist Dyslexia Assessors do not only rely on the WRIT scores or a working memory deficit to make a diagnosis of dyslexia. They use data from other tests and take into account the verbal abilities of the student throughout the whole assessment process, noting receptive and expressive language skills. The assessment will also look at difficulties with working memory, phonological weakness and speed of processing, literacy weaknesses and specific skills associated with reading and writing. Additional testing may be carried out if supplementary evidence is required.

Terms of Reference and Key Decisions from STEC meetings are accessible from the downloads page.