Cognitive Assessment for Young Children (CAYC)

by M. Beth Langley, Rebecca R. Fewell, and Taddy Maddox

Benefit: Offers a reliable, child-friendly way to assess cognitive ability in young children and determine need for services
Ages: 2 months through 5-11 years
Administration Time: 15 to 30 minutes
Format: Individually administered, play-related tasks
Scores: Percentiles, age-equivalents, and index scores
Norms: Based on a nationally representative sample of 743 children in 16 states

Here is a well-constructed, child-friendly test that identifies youngsters who have developmental delays. Using a structured, play-based approach, the CAYC provides a comprehensive assessment of cognitive abilities in children from 2 months through 5 years, 11 months of age. It tells you how well youngsters can:

  • Organize, plan, and execute actions
  • Apply past learning to new problems
  • Solve problems related to everyday experience

At higher levels, the CAYC also assesses skills essential to literacy, math, and writing.

Age-Related Developmental Tasks
The CAYC consists of 107 structured items within six age-related levels. At each level, developmental and meta-cognitive tasks are presented to the child. These involve but are not limited to the following:

  • Fine motor coordination and planning
  • Communication and play
  • Memory
  • Reasoning
  • Perceptual development
  • Processing
  • Classification and organization
  • Concept development
  • Practical knowledge

Items within each level are sequenced according to increasing difficulty, and later tasks build on earlier skills. This allows examiners to establish basals and ceilings, thereby limiting evaluation time and making it less likely that the child will become frustrated. The materials and activities presented to the child are very similar to those encountered in early intervention programs. Most youngsters find them engaging, motivating, and enjoyable. (Note: Children must have sufficient hearing, vision, and movement skills to understand and respond to test items.)

The CAYC provides three kinds of normative scores: percentile ranks, age equivalents, and index scores. Standardization is based on a sample of 743 children, nationally representative in regard to gender, geographic region, ethnicity, family income, and parental education.

An Ideal Way to Determine Need for Services

The CAYC is a particularly effective way to:

  • Estimate a child’s cognitive ability relative to his or her peers
  • Identify cognitive strengths and weaknesses
  • Document change following intervention
  • Measure cognitive ability for research purposes

Psychometrically sound and highly informative, the CAYC is an excellent choice for professionals who must assess young children in order to determine their need for services.