Development and Initial Validation of a Reading-Specific Performance Validity Test: the College Assessment of Reading Effort (CARE)

  • Robert WeisEmail author
  • Sarah J. Droder


Although performance validity tests (PVTs) are routinely used in neuropsychological assessment to detect malingering or low-effort test-taking, they are seldom administered to college students seeking academic accommodations and other benefits for reading disabilities. Previous research indicates that between 9.5 and 31% of students seeking learning disability evaluations at university-based clinics provide noncredible test scores indicative of symptom exaggeration or low effort. We developed a brief reading–specific PVT designed for college students participating in reading disability testing: the College Assessment of Reading Effort (CARE). We administered the CARE and standardized reading tests to three groups of students: honest controls, students with documented reading disabilities, and students coached to simulate reading disabilities. Simulators displayed normative deficits on standardized reading measures, similar to the scores earned by students with actual reading disabilities and lower than the scores earned by honest controls. In contrast, CARE scores differentiated simulators from honest examinees with and without disabilities. ROC curve analysis showed that CARE composite scores could be used diagnostically to detect low effort with sensitivity, specificity, and predictive power ≥ 0.90. The CARE offers a time- and cost-effective way to assess performance validity during reading disability testing for postsecondary students.


Assessment College students Malingering Reading disabilities Symptom validity Performance validity 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (national and institutional). Approval was obtained from the ethics board at Denison University.

Animal Rights

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyDenison UniversityGranvilleUSA

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