Using the Comprehensive Executive Function Inventory (CEFI) to Assess Executive Function: From Theory to Application

  • Jack A. Naglieri
  • Sam Goldstein


Interest in measuring variables that might explain the difference between children’s ability and knowledge and their actual performance in the classroom on tests or on the playground has been of increasing interest to researchers, educators, psychologists, and mental health professionals (Goldstein & Naglieri, 2013). Increasingly, evaluators are focused upon explaining the processes and abilities that facilitate acquisition of knowledge. Interest in the mental application of human brain behavior relationships has, to a significant degree, driven interest in phenomena like executive function. Nonetheless, this concept is in a relatively early stage of development (McCloskey, Perkins, & Van Divner, 2009). As in all areas of science, what is discovered depends upon the quality of the instruments used and the information provided. Thus, as interest in executive function and its impact upon children’s development has grown, so has an interest in developing valid and reliable instruments. The better the assessment tool, the more valid and reliable decisions made, the more useful information obtained, ultimately greater benefit derived by children in need.


Autism Spectrum Disorder Executive Function Full Scale Standard Score Item Score 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Abdi, H. (2010). Congruence: Congruence coefficient, RV coefficient, and mantel coefficient. In N. J. Salkind, D. M. Dougherty, & B. Frey (Eds.), Encyclopedia of research design (pp. 222–229). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. Best, J. R., Miller, P. H., & Jones, L. L. (2009). Executive functions after age 5: Changes and correlates. Developmental Review, 29, 180–200.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Best, J. R., Miller, P. H., & Naglieri, J. A. (2011). Relations between executive function and academic achievement from ages 5 to 17 in a large, representative national sample. Learning and Individual Differences, 21, 327–336.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Davidson, M. C., Amso, D., Anderson, L. C., & Diamond, A. (2006). Development of cognitive control and executive functions from 4–13 years: Evidence from manipulations of memory, inhibition, and task switching. Neuropsychologia, 44, 2037–2078.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Duncan, J., & Miller, E. K. (2002). Cognitive focusing through adaptive neural coding in the primate prefrontal cortex. In D. Stuss & R. T. Knight (Eds.), Principles of frontal lobe function (pp. 278–291). New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Friedman, N. P., Miyake, A., Corley, R. P., Young, S. E., DeFries, J. C., & Hewitt, J. K. (2006). Not all executive functions are related to intelligence. Psychological Science, 17, 172–179.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gilbert, S. J., Bird, G., Brindley, R., Frith, C. D., & Burgess, P. W. (2008). Atypical recruitment of medial prefrontal cortex in autism spectrum disorders: An fMRI study of two executive function tasks. Neuropsychologia, 46, 2281–2291.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gioia, G. A., Isquith, P. K., Guy, S. C., & Kenworthy, L. (2000). Behavior rating inventory of executive function: Professional manual. Lutz, FL: Psychological Assessment.Google Scholar
  9. Goldstein, S. (2013). The science of intelligence testing: Commentary on the evolving nature of interpretations of the Wechsler scales. Journal of Psychoeducaitonal Assessment, 31, 132–137.Google Scholar
  10. Guy, S. C., Isquith, P. K., & Gioia, G. A. (2004). Behavior rating inventory of executive function: Self report version. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.Google Scholar
  11. Happé, F., Booth, R., Charlton, R., & Hughes, C. (2006). Executive function deficits in autism spectrum disorders and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: Examining profiles across domains and ages. Brain and Cognition, 61, 25–39.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Herba, C. M., Tranah, T., Rubia, K., & Yule, W. (2006). Conduct problems in adolescence: Three domains of inhibition and effect of gender. Developmental Neuropsychology, 30, 659–695.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Jensen, P. S. (2001). Clinical equivalence: A step, a misstep, or just a misnomer? Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 8, 436–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jurado, M. B., & Rosselli, M. (2007). The elusive nature of executive functions: A review of our current understanding. Neuropsychology Review, 17, 213–233.Google Scholar
  15. Kaufman, A. S. (1994). Intelligent testing with the WISC-III. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  16. LeBuffe, P. A., & Naglieri, J. A. (2003). Devereux early childhood assessment clinical form (DECA-C). Lewisville, NC: Kaplan Press.Google Scholar
  17. McCloskey, G., Perkins, L. A., & Van Divner, B. (2009). Assessment and intervention for executive function difficulties. School-based practice in action series. New York, NY: Routledge Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  18. Miller, E. K., & Cohen, J. D. (2001). An integrative theory of prefrontal cortex function. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 24, 167–202.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Miyake, A., Friedman, N. P., Emerson, M. J., Witzki, A. H., Howerter, A., & Wagner, T. D. (2000). The unity and diversity of executive functions and their contributions to complex “frontal lobe” tasks: A latent variable analysis. Cognitive Psychology, 41, 49–100.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Morgan, A. B., & Lilienfeld, S. O. (2000). A meta-analytic review of the relation between antisocial behavior and neuropsychological measures of executive function. Clinical Psychology Review, 20, 113–136.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Müller, U., Lieberman, D., Frye, D., & Zelazo, P. D. (2008). Executive function, school readiness, and school achievement. In S. K. Thurman & C. A. Fiorello (Eds.), Applied cognitive research in K-3 classrooms (pp. 41–84). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Naglieri, J. A. (2000). Can profile analysis of ability test scores work? An illustration using the PASS theory and CAS with an unselected cohort. School Psychology Quarterly, 15, 419–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Naglieri, J. A. (2011). The discrepancy/consistency approach to SLD identification using the PASS theory. In D. P. Flanagan & V. C. Alfonso (Eds.), Essentials of specific learning disability identification (pp. 145–172). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  24. Naglieri, J. A., & Goldstein, S. (2011). Assessment of cognitive and neuropsychological processes. In S. Goldstein & J. A. Naglieri (Eds.), Understanding and managing learning disabilities and ADHD in late adolescence and adulthood (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  25. Naglieri, J. A., & Goldstein, S. (2013). Comprehensive Executive Functioning Index. Toronto: Multi Health Systems.Google Scholar
  26. Naglieri, J. A., & Das, J. P. (1997). Cognitive assessment system. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.Google Scholar
  27. Naglieri, J. A., Das, J. P., & Goldstein, S. (2013). Cognitive assessment system—Second edition. Austin, TX: ProEd.Google Scholar
  28. Naglieri, J. A., & Goldstein, S. (2013). Evaluation and treatment effectiveness in the field of autism: Psychometric considerations and an illustration, in S. Goldstein and J.A. Naglieri handbook of autism treatment. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  29. Naglieri, J. A., & Gottling, S. H. (1995). A cognitive education approach to math instruction for the learning disabled: An individual study. Psychological Reports, 76, 1343–1354.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Naglieri, J. A., LeBuffe, P. A., & Pfeiffer, S. I. (1994). Devereux scales of mental disorders. San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
  31. Naglieri, J. A., McNeish, T. J., & Bardos, A. N. (1991). Draw a person: Screening procedure for emotional disturbance. Austin, TX: ProEd.Google Scholar
  32. Naglieri, J. A., & Otero, T. M. (2012). The cognitive assessment system: From theory to practice. In D. P. Flanagan & P. L. Harrison (Eds.), Contemporary intellectual assessment, third edition: Theories, tests, and issues (pp. 376–399). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  33. Naglieri, J. A., & Pickering, E. B. (2010). Helping children learn. Intervention handouts for use in school and at home (2nd ed.). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.Google Scholar
  34. Ogles, B. M., Lunnen, K. M., & Bonesteel, K. (2001). Clinical significance: History, application, and current practice. Clinical Psychology Review, 21, 421–446.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Raiche, G., & Magis, D. (2010). nFactors: Parallel analysis and non graphical solutions to the Cattell Scree Test. R package version 2.3.2.
  36. Revelle, W. (2011). Psych: Procedures for personality and psychological research. Northwestern University, Evanston. R. package version 1.1.12.Google Scholar
  37. Revelle, W., & Rocklin, T. (1979). Very simple structure: An alternative procedure for estimating the optimal number of interpretable factors. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 14, 403–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Reynolds, C. R., & Kamphaus, R. W. (1992). BASC: Behavioral assessment system for children. San Antonio: Pearson.Google Scholar
  39. Sadeh, S. S., Burns, M. K., & Sullivan, A. L. (2012). Examining an Executive Function Rating Scale as a predictor of achievement in children at risk for behavior problems. School Psychology Quarterly, 27, 236–246.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Slocum-Gori, S. L., & Zumbo, B. D. (2011). Assessing the unidimensionality of psychological scales: Using multiple criteria from factor analysis. Social Indicators Research, 102, 443–461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Solomon, M., Ozonoff, S. J., Ursu, S., Ravizza, S., Cummings, N., Ly, S., et al. (2009). The neural substrates of cognitive control deficits in autism spectrum disorders. Neuropsychologia, 47, 2515–2526.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Velicer, W. F., Eaton, C. A., & Fava, J. L. (2000). Construct explication through factor or component analysis: A review and evaluation of alternative procedures for determining the number of factors or components. In R. D. Goffin & E. Helmes (Eds.), Problems and solutions in human assessment: Honoring Douglas N. Jackson at seventy (pp. 41–72). Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wechsler, D. (2003). Wechsler intelligence scale for children—4th edition (WISC-IV®). San Antonio, TX: Harcourt Assessment.Google Scholar
  44. Weyandt, L. L., Willis, W. G., Swentosky, A., Wilson, K., Janusis, G. M., & Marshall, S. (in press). A review of the use of executive function tasks in externalizing and internalizing disorders. In S. Goldstein, & J. A. Naglieri (Eds.), Comprehensive handbook of executive functioning. New York, NY: Springer.Google Scholar
  45. Wiebe, S. A., Espy, K. A., & Charak, D. (2008). Using confirmatory factor analysis to understand executive control in preschool children: I. Latent structure. Developmental Psychology, 44, 575–587.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Willcutt, E. G., Doyle, A. E., Nigg, J. T., Faraone, S. V., & Pennington, B. F. (2005). Validity of the executive function theory of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A meta-analytic review. Biological Psychiatry, 57, 1336–1346.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Woodcock, R. W., McGrew, K. S., & Mather, N. (2001). Woodcock-Johnson III. Itasca, IL: Riverside Publishing.Google Scholar
  48. Zelazo, P. D., & Müller, U. (2002). Executive function in typical and atypical development. In U. Goswami (Ed.), Handbook of childhood cognitive development (pp. 445–469). Oxford: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Zwick, W. R., & Velicer, W. F. (1986). Comparison of five rules for determining the number of components to retain. Psychological Bulletin, 99, 432–442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Virginia, Curry School of EducationCharlottesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Neurology, Learning and Behavior CenterUniversity of Utah School of MedicineSalt Lake CityUSA

Personalised recommendations