NCDS – Child of CM (Multi-Age) – PIAT Reading Comprehension Subscale

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The 1958 National Child Development Study (NCDS) assessed the children of a sub-sample of cohort members (CMs) using the Peabody Individual Achievement Test’s (PIAT) Reading Comprehension Subscale.

The child assessments included in the NCDS5 Child Interview (conducted when the CM was aged 33) applied only to the natural or adopted children of CMs aged 3 years, 11 months, and 16 days or older. Some 3,575 (71 percent) of the cohort children identified were eligible for the Child Interview. The tests were based on those used by the US National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) for their 1990 survey of the children of female respondents. These tests were developed in the US and a number of changes (mainly substituting terminology) were made to individual assessments for use in the NCDS.

Prior to administering these tests, the interviewer calculated the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) age of the child (actual age rounded up or down to the nearest whole month) to establish, if the child was eligible for testing, which tests would be administered and, for some tests, the appropriate starting point of the test. Time at start and completion (24 hour clock) was calculated using the following variables: n520128 n520130 n521935 n521937.

The PIAT: Reading Comprehension Subscale was administered if the child was aged 3 years, 11 months, and 16 days or older. Details on this measure and the data collected are outlined in the table below.


Domain:Verbal (word meaning)
Measures:Word understanding / lexical comprehension
CHC:Gc (Crystallised)
Grw (Reading/Writing)
Administrative method:Interviewer at home; face to face; child reads and says out loud
Procedure:Consists of 56 items of increasing difficulty. The child read a sentence and selected one of four pictures which best portrayed the meaning of the sentence. Entry to the test was determined by the PIAT Reading Recognition Score.
The interviewer:
identified the start point (using the PPVT age)
established basal (5 correct answers in a row) and ceiling (5 out of 7 responses wrong) points.
If the child did not get the first 5 items correct, then the test was moved back 5 words and started from there. The ceiling was identified when 5 out of 7 items were incorrect or if item 84 was reached.
Link to questionnaire:https://cls.ucl.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Ncds5d.pdf (opens in new tab)
Scoring:(see source materials)
Item-level variable(s):n521513 (score from reading Test I)
n521515-n521680 (individual items)
n521713 (Basal 5/5 right)
n521714 (ceiling 5/7 wrong)
Total score/derived variable(s):None
Age of participant (months):Mean = 112.42, SD = 33.64, Range = 47 - 224
Descriptives:Not available (see technical resources on deriving scores)
Other sweep and/or cohort:None
Source:Dunn, L. M., & Markwardt Jr, F. C. (1970). Peabody Individual Achievement Test Manual (Circle Pines, MN American Guidance Service)
Technical resources:National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, (1988). Child Data (Columbus, Ohio Center for Human Resource Research, The Ohio State University)
Reference examples:Michael, R. (2003). Children’s cognitive skill development in Britain and the United States. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 27(5), 396-408.

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This page is part of CLOSER’s ‘A guide to the cognitive measures in five British birth cohort studies’.