Abstract

Objective: The purpose of this study was to describe performance on an indicator of effort, Reliable Digit Span (RDS), in a sample of children referred primarily due to academic difficulties. Little research has examined RDS performance in this population. Method: This archival study consisted of 37 children (28 males, 9 females) referred for a psychological evaluation primarily for academic difficulties to a college-affiliated psychological clinic. Participants ranged in age from 6 to 16 (M = 10.789, SD = 3.16) and were primarily Euro-American (66%). Six participants met criteria for a learning disability (LD), four for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), 18 had more than one diagnosis (typically ADHD and LD), one had dysthymia, and eight did not meet any diagnostic criteria. Results: RDS scores ranged from 6 to 15 (M = 8.51, SD = 2.04). The rate of participants scoring above the low effort cutoff score of ≤6 was 91.9%. RDS scores were not significantly differentiated by gender, t(35) = 0.44, p > 0.05, or diagnostic category, F(4, 32) = 1.35, p > 0.05. There was a significant positive correlation between RDS and age, r(n = 37) = 0.50, p < 0.01) but not RDS and FSIQ, r(n = 37) = 0.04, p > 0.05). Conclusion(s): Results indicated that RDS performance exceeded the pass rate of 90% recommended in prior research for an effective effort index, suggesting that it is a potentially useful indicator of effort in children referred due to academic difficulties.