Mastery of language skills is an important predictor of daily functioning and health. Vocabulary comprehension and reading decoding are relatively quick and easy to measure and correlate highly with overall cognitive functioning, as well as with success in school and work. New measures of vocabulary comprehension and reading decoding (in both English and Spanish) were developed for the NIH Toolbox Cognition Battery (CB). In the Toolbox Picture Vocabulary Test (TPVT), participants hear a spoken word while viewing four pictures, and then must choose the picture that best represents the word. This approach tests receptive vocabulary knowledge without the need to read or write, removing the literacy load for children who are developing literacy and for adults who struggle with reading and writing. In the Toolbox Oral Reading Recognition Test (TORRT), participants see a letter or word onscreen and must pronounce or identify it. The examiner determines whether it was pronounced correctly by comparing the response to the pronunciation guide on a separate computer screen. In this chapter, we discuss the importance of language during childhood and the relation of language and brain function. We also review the development of the TPVT and TORRT, including information about the item calibration process and results from a validation study. Finally, the strengths and weaknesses of the measures are discussed.
© 2013 The Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.