The DTLA, Detroit Test of Learning Aptitude is used to measure special needs of the subjects.

DTLA can identify early if your child has special needs!

Detroit Test of Learning Aptitude, DTLA measures general and specific mental abilities!

If you’re looking for an aptitude test that will tell you if your child or teen can benefit from special education, remedial classes or some form of reasonable accommodation, you don’t have to look further than the DTLA. The test can provide you with information regarding your child or teen’s general intelligence, as well as his aptitude in specific inter-related mental tasks. Like most psychological tests, the DTLA is not just beneficial in the hunt for the problematic. It can also surface strengths and learning styles.

An Overview of the DTLA

The Detroit Test of Learning Aptitude is composed of 11 assessments that evaluate different aspects of intelligence among young children and teenagers. Unlike most aptitude tests, the DTLA is administered one-on-one as the protocol is not just made up of a pen-and-paper test. Instructions can be given orally, and actual behavior is being measured aside from verbal responses. In some of the sub-scales, even the test-takers’ motor skills are being assessed. The test takes anywhere around 15 to 45 minutes to administer.

The following are just some 3 of the 11 sub-tests within the DTLA:

1- Visual Attention Span for Letters

The test-taker is asked to recall a set of random letters presented visually. The proctor begins by presenting just 2 letters for the test-taker to memorize, but the number of letters presented increases over time.

2- Verbal Absurdities

As the term implies, this test involves the presentation of weird and nonsensical phrases and statements to the test-taker. Test-taker must them explain what is absurd about the phrases or statement he or she heard. This sub test aims to measure understanding of material presented orally.

3- Following Oral Directions

This test is designed to measure a person’s aptitude in grasping and executing directions presented orally. In many ways, this is a more practical measure of intelligence, as it involves measuring a skill that is critical in not just school but also at work.

The good thing about the sub-tests of the Detroit Test of Learning Aptitude is that they don’t contain the bias of traditional aptitude tests against persons with visual impairment or learning disabilities related to reading and comprehension of written text (e.g. dyslexia). The clear delineation of which senses or learning style to use in each sub-test also makes for the easy identification of special needs in particular areas. For instance, a child who does well in processing information presented visually, but struggles with information presented orally, may need extra support in classrooms where lectures are the main medium of instruction.

More so, the test is age-sensitive. That is, it uses different set of norms when dealing with young children and when dealing with young adults. You can use the Detroit Test of Learning Aptitude – Primary 3rd Edition (or DTLA – P3) when testing children 6 to 11 years of age, and the regular format for older children.

How You Can Avail of the Test?

Like most standardized tests, the Detroit Test of Learning Aptitude can only be administered by licensed psychometricians, educational psychologists and clinical psychologists. This is because there are important considerations when administering psychological assessments; an untrained proctor can skew the results. Keeping the protocol away from the general public’s hands also help in maintaining the integrity of the test. If a mental assessment is readily made available for everyone, then the norms (the scores that are being used to define what is statistically “average” or within the typical range) will no longer be reliable.

But this doesn’t mean that availing of the assessment is impossible. The best way to go about it is to ask the mental health professionals in your area. If your child or teen is still at school, consult people from the guidance and counseling office; they usually make available assessment tools that can help their students adjust better both in and out of the classroom. Or you can approach learning specialists, especially those that conduct assessment for special needs children.

If you need more leads on who can administer the Detroit Test of Learning Aptitude in your area, you can make an inquiry to the state board that license psychometricians and psychological testing centers.


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