Cognitive Processing Inventory (CPI)


Designed for:


  • assessment of information processing skills

  • evaluation of learning styles

  • differential diagnosis of specific learning disabilities








Developed by


Scott L. Crouse, Ph.D


Copyright © 2007-2017 LDinfo Publishing


Jump to:

Section 1 - Overview of the CPI

Section 2 - Statistical Properties of the CPI

Section 3 - The Processing Model of the CPI

Section 4 - The CPI as Part of a Comprehensive LD Assessment

Section 5 - Rating and Scoring the CPI

Section 6 - Interpretation of the CPI

Section 7 - Installation and Use of the CPI Professional Software




Section 1


Overview of the Cognitive Processing Inventory (CPI)



Development of the CPI:  The CPI has been developed over the past thirty years to assist in the process of non-biased differential diagnosis of learning disabled students.  It is based upon a thorough review of current neuropsychological research in addition to formal cognitive assessment of over 2000 students, hundreds of parent and student interviews, and direct behavioral observation of the learning disabled population.  Ultimately, the intent was to develop a tool which could supplement standard assessment practices and also quantify the information which parents already have about their own child’s learning and cognitive skills.  It has been found that the CPI can reliably differentiate specific subtypes of learning disabilities and promote clearer understanding of cognitive processing skills and appropriate educational intervention.


Standardization: The initial preliminary standardization of the CPI used a two-phase process completed over the course of one year.  Phase one of that process involved distribution of CPI rating forms to over 5000 families in a suburban Minnesota area.  Approximately 700 of these parent and student/self ratings were completed and returned for data analysis.  Teachers were also asked to complete CPI ratings for students who had taken part in the home-rating process.  After development of preliminary norms during phase one, phase two was initiated which involved posting an internet web-based CPI rating program.  This on-line CPI rating allowed anyone with an internet connection to take part in the standardization process and facilitated the gathering of additional ratings from across the country.  The web-based CPI has also enabled ongoing monitoring and revision of the norms.

After establishment of preliminary norms through the two-phase process described above, several school districts and psychologists in private practice across the United States volunteered to complete a more traditional standardization process by gathering rating data from a broad random sampling of subjects. Norms are regularly updated though this process.

Age and Gender:  The current total standardization sample of 5776 cases was separated into six  age/gender groups to be used in the development of the norms.  Table 1.1 shows the total number of individuals in each group.


Table 1.1


Standardization Samples by Age and Gender


                                       Age Group                  Male (N)               Female (N)


                                          4.0-6.9                          438                          444


                                         7.0-10.9                         569                          547


                                        11.0-14.9                        489                          583


                                        15.0-18.9                        405                          546


                                        19.0-22.9                        443                         471


                                             23+                            417                         424




Ethnicity: Ethnic distribution within the CPI standardization group has been adjusted to match current U.S. census data.


Because of concern regarding nonbiased assessment practices, further data analysis was conducted to determine the significance of any potential differences found between ratings of "white" and "non-white" individuals.  Two-tailed t-tests were performed comparing white and non-white average raw scores obtained in each processing domain for parent, teacher, and student/self ratings.  These statistical comparisons found no significant differences across any of the six processing domains or within the Global Processing Index as a function of ethnicity.  This suggests that the CPI is able to provide a nonbiased assessment of cognitive processing skills.


Appropriate use of the CPI:  The CPI is intended to provide an observable rating of a student's information processing and/or learning style.  It primarily represents a convenient means of gathering information from parents about how they view their child's learning and thinking skills.  And for older students (age 12 and up) and adults, valuable information can be directly obtained about how they view themselves.  Although teacher norms are included, because the CPI is most accurate when completed by someone with long-term familiarity with the student, teacher ratings tend to be somewhat less reliable than parent ratings.  For this reason it is suggested that the CPI only be used with teachers who are very familiar with the student in a variety of settings over a relatively long period of time.  In general, parent ratings are preferred (as well as self-ratings for individuals over the age of 12).


The CPI is not intended to be used as a sole or even primary assessment of information processing.  In general, it should be used in conjunction with objective assessment data and always interpreted with sound professional judgment. 


Brief description of the rating scales:  The information processing model chosen for the CPI includes the following six general areas of cognitive processing, each of which is based upon well-researched theories of learning and cognition:


                                                 Visual processing


                                                 Auditory processing


                                                 Sequential/rational processing


                                                 Conceptual/abstract processing


                                                 Processing speed


                                                 Executive Functioning



In order to evaluate these processing areas, rating forms are completed by parents, teachers, or

the students themselves.  These forms consist of 10 questions pertaining to background information followed by 50 rating items.  Each item is rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 indicating "obvious difficulty" and 5 indicating "obvious strength" for the person being rated.  A rating of 3 is to be used either to indicate "average skill" or when the rater is uncertain about the correct response.  This insures that "uncertain" ratings will not significantly skew the results.


Two versions of the rating forms are available in both English and Spanish;  the CPI for children ages 4-7, and the CPI for ages 7-adult.


The CPI vs formal cognitive assessment:  An individually-administered cognitive assessment instrument is primarily designed and intended to evaluate a student's general intellectual/cognitive abilities.  Although subscale or subtest scatter analysis can be an effective means of developing hypotheses regarding an information processing "style", the utility of such approaches has not been clearly substantiated by research.  This is probably due to the limited sample of behavior which is available within each subtest along with the inherent error of any "one time only" test of skill. 


In contrast, a rating scale such as the CPI is intended to evaluate parents' (and teachers') long-term knowledge and understanding of how a specific child typically performs on everyday activities which have been observed over the course of several months or even years.  Each item within the CPI has been carefully chosen because of its direct empirically-based relationship to the given processing area.  As such, a certain level of reliability and validity is "built-into" the CPI rating process.  Combining the CPI with formal cognitive assessment provides a very solid base of interpretive data for identifying an information processing pattern within a specific individual. 







Section 2


Statistical Properties of the CPI


Scores Provided by the CPI: 


Presently, the scores provided by the CPI are based upon a normative sample of over 5500 individuals ages 4 through 60, across the United States.  Norms are provided for parent ratings, teacher ratings, and self ratings across all age groups.  Standardized scores (provided through either hand or computer scoring) include:


                                    •  Standard Scores (SS) in each processing domain,


                                    •  A Global Processing Index (GPI), and


                                    •  Standard Deviation of Difference scores (SDD)


Standard Scores (SS) in each processing domain reflect how a particular student's rating compares to the population "norm" for that rating group (parent, teacher, or self).  The mean is set at 100 and the standard deviation set at 15 in order to facilitate interpretation.  These standard scores are provided on the Technical Report format of the CPI computer scoring program and can also be plotted on the Graphic Report format to provide a visual display of relative processing strengths and weaknesses. 


The Global Processing Index (GPI) is also provided on the Technical Report format as a standard score (with a mean of 100 and standard deviation of 15) and simply represents the average "overall" rating of a particular subject.  This is used to determine the relative significance of any differences found across the six processing domains.  The GPI provides a standardized comparison between a specific person's rating and the "norms" of the standardization sample who have already been rated.  Scores within + or - one standard deviation of the mean (from 85 to 115) represent the "average range" of the standardization group and account for approximately 67% of the total population scores. Although it is on the same scale as most IQ scores, the GPI should not be confused with a measure of general intelligence. The GPI is intended to provide a general measure of overall information processing skill (as viewed by those completing the ratings) which can then be used to determine relative processing strengths and weaknesses in specific areas (see below).  Although a low GPI score may suggests rather significant overall information processing difficulty, it would not necessarily suggest low cognitive ability.  This is a very important distinction.


The Standard Deviation of Difference (SDD)  score is provided to assist with the interpretation of the significance of differences found between standard scores in each processing domain and the Global Processing Index.  From a diagnostic standpoint, Standard Deviation of Difference (SDD) scores are considerably more valuable than the GPI because these SDD scores reflect measurable differences within the individual rather than in comparison to other students.


SDD scores provide a measure of the significance of differences found between an individual's

GPI and their particular rating in each specific processing area.  As with the GPI, the SDD scores relate to the differences found within the standardization group of the "normal population".  SDD scores within the -1 to +1 range represent the average or "normal" differences found within 67% of the general population.  Based upon the norms, approximately 16% of the general population would obtain an SDD score in any given area lower than -1 and 16% of the general population would be expected to have SDD scores above +1. Only 2% of the general population would be expected to have SDD scores either less than -2 or greater than +2.  From a diagnostic perspective, a processing SDD score below -1 could be considered significant enough to negatively impact learning.


For interpretation, "moderate discrepancy" is found in the range of 1 to 2 SDDs (either positive or negative) from the GPI.  2 or more SDDs from the GPI represents a "severe discrepancy" and would indicate either a significant strength or significant weakness in that processing area.  Besides the SDD scores in each processing area, the CPI also provides SDD scores reflective of differences between dichotomously paired processing domains.  These would included: Auditory Processing vs Visual Processing, and Sequential Processing vs Conceptual processing.  Again, 1 or more SDDs between these processing areas would indicate a moderate to significant difference. 


                      SDDs from GPI          Interpretation


                                 2 +           Significant Relative Strength


                                1 to 2          Moderate Relative Strength


                              -1 to +1                  Average Range


                              -1 to -2       Moderate Relative Weakness


                                 -2 +         Significant Relative Weakness


The computer-generated report automatically calculates the number of SDDs that a specific processing standard score falls above or below the Global Processing Index.  For example, if the GPI is 100 and the Auditory Processing SS is 88, that may translate to a difference of -1.5 SDDs.  This would suggest that Auditory Processing is moderately discrepant from the GPI indicating an apparent relative weakness in this area.  The actual SDD values found within the various norm groups are listed in the norms tables in Appendix E.


Intra-cognitive vs inter-cognitive interpretation:


Beginning with version 5.0 of the CPI scoring software, examiners are provided the option of either utilizing the default “intra-cognitive” interpretation (evaluating the significance of differences within the individual subject) or switching to a somewhat more traditional “inter-cognitive” interpretation (evaluating the significance of differences between the individual subject and the mean of the norm group).  Before deciding which interpretation to use it is very important to fully understand the design and intent of the CPI as well as the pros and cons of each option.


Intra-cognitive comparison represents the true design and intent of the CPI and also follows the philosophical underpinnings of the term “Learning Disability”.  In essence, a true learning disability exists when a student’s underachievement is caused by information processing differences within his or her brain.  By default, the CPI provides a formal evaluation of intra-cognitive processing differences by comparing the differences noted on the CPI rating forms with “normal” differences found within the norm group.  To do this, the CPI scoring program first calculates the subject’s global processing index (GPI) for each rating as well as standard scores in each processing area.  These standard scores are then converted to standard deviation of difference (SDD) scores based upon the variance of scores among the norm group.  These SDD scores range from -4 to +4 with a mean of 0 (zero).  A score of zero simply means that the specific processing area score exactly matches the GPI of that particular rating.  Since each specific rating for a particular subject is converted to this scale, all ratings can be directly plotted for visual comparison of relative strengths and/or weaknesses.  In other words, even if one rating was rather critical and another rating somewhat lenient, intra-cognitive interpretation gives all ratings a mean of zero so that relative highs and lows can be directly compared.  


In conrast, Inter-cognitive comparison represents a means of more directly comparing a given subject’s processing skills with the mean of the norm group.  In other words, this interpretation simply compares a given subject’s standard scores in each processing area with the statistical mean of the norm group (100).  Standard scores between 70 and 85 are considered to be of “moderate concern” while scores below 70 would be considered “severe concern”.  Although this is a traditional interpretive approach (typically used with other types of assessment instruments) it does not provide a means of comparing the significance of differences within the individual subject.  The option of inter-cognitive interpretation is offered primarily for situations in which a subject may have generalized information processing issues (across categories) which may not be revealed via intra-cognitive comparison. 


Reliability of the CPI: 


Test-Retest Stability - An evaluation of test-retest reliability was performed which compared initial and follow-up parent CPI ratings of 150 students at approximate one-year intervals.  Of the 150 follow-up sets of ratings, 92% were found to show a pattern of processing which identified identical areas of relatively significant strength and weakness as were noted on the initial rating.  This suggests an overall stability correlation of approximately .92.


Internal Consistency - In order to assess the internal consistency and overall reliability of the CPI a split-half method was employed in which the entire CPI item pool and each subscale was randomly divided into 2 similar forms.  These split-half correlations were then gathered from the initial normative sample of 4554 cases and are presented in Table 2.1.  Correlations across specific processing areas range from .85 to .92 with overall Global Processing Index (GPI) correlations ranging from .94 to .96.  This data verifies that the CPI has very strong internal consistency.

Table 2.1

Split-Half Reliability Coefficients


                                                             Parent                Teacher                Self       

                Auditory                                 .88                      .91                     .87        

                Visual                                     .85                      .90                     .85        

                Sequential                               .87                      .89                     .89        

                Conceptual                              .89                      .92                     .86        

                Processing Speed                    .88                      .88                     .90        

                Executive Functioning            .89                      .92                     .89        

                Global Processing Index         .95                      .96                     .94                      


Validity of the CPI: 


Content Validity - The initial item selection and categorization for the CPI was derived through an empirically-based process which utilized published research findings related to cognitive processing along with hundreds of direct observations and interviews with parents and teachers of learning disabled students.  The initial item groupings were then refined through an extensive process of factor analysis to ensure that each item was indeed loading on the specific "processing" factor being rated. 


Predictive Validity - In order to evaluate predictive validity of the CPI, parent ratings were obtained on 150 students in grades 3 through 12 who were concurrently being formally evaluated for possible special education services.  Using only a pattern analysis* of the general processing clusters of the CPI, correct predictions of learning disability placement were made for 118 of the 150 students (78%) with 12% false-positive and 10% false-negative predictions. 


Concurrent Validity - Using data collected during the normative process, concurrent validity was evaluated through parent, student/self, and teacher CPI ratings of students in grades 3 through 12 who had previously been formally identified as having some form of learning disability.  For parent ratings of LD students, 86 out of 102 (84%) were found to demonstrate a significant information processing weakness on the CPI at the .15 level.  For student/self ratings of LD students, 39 out of 55 (71%) were found to demonstrate a significant information processing weakness on the CPI at the .15 level.  For teacher ratings of LD students, 67 out of 86 (78%) were found to demonstrate a significant information processing weakness on the CPI at the .15 level.



Table 2.4

Concurrent Validity

Identified LD Students


                       Ratings                                 Total                           Significant        Correlation

                Parent                                         102                                    86                   .84

                Student/self (LD)                          55                                     39                   .71

                Teacher                                       86                                     67                   .78           



Overall, these reliability and validity studies provide very strong support for both the CPI as a screening/assessment instrument and the underlying information processing model chosen.






Section 3


The Processing Model of the CPI


There are many differing and often conflicting theories of cognitive development and information processing.  The information processing model chosen for the CPI includes the following six general areas of cognitive processing, each of which is based upon well-researched theories of learning and cognition:


                                                 Visual processing


                                                 Auditory processing


                                                 Sequential/rational processing


                                                 Conceptual/holistic processing


                                                 Processing speed


                                                 Executive Functioning


These broad processing areas have been chosen because of strong historical and empirical support along with the direct educational implications each can provide.


The auditory/visual (sometimes referred to as verbal/non-verbal or linguistic/visuospatial) comparison is the oldest and most extensively researched processing dichotomy.  These were the original processing areas described when the concept of a learning disability was first introduced.  Various intelligence scales such as Wechsler scales, McCarthy, DAS, Stanford Binet, etc. have continued to emphasize these as primary processing areas.  Research has consistently supported the assumption that the brain processes auditory and visual information in very different ways, and when a student demonstrates a significant preference for one over the other, a learning disability can occur. 


The sequential/conceptual (sometimes referred to as sequential/simultaneous or successive/holistic) comparison has evolved directly from extensive neuropsychological research conducted over the past several decades.  The implications from this research have clearly suggested that each of the two cerebral hemispheres processes information in a rather unique fashion.  The left hemisphere appears to process information in a very orderly and detailed manner whereas the right hemisphere takes a more general, holistic processing approach.  The Kauffman Assessment Battery for Children (K-ABC) was developed directly from this neuropsychological research base.  Although the term "rational thinking" has taken on a somewhat different meaning, taken literally, the word "rational" means "part by part" which is virtually synonymous with our understanding of left-brain processing.  However, since the term "sequential processing" is more widely associated with learning disabilities it will be primarily used to describe this processing domain within the CPI. 


Processing speed is one of the most recently identified cognitive processing areas, well-supported in research and literature.  The actual speed of neural transmission has been measured and found to correlate negatively with some forms of learning difficulties (e.g. low processign speed = high probability of learning difficulty).  This has been endorsed as a distinct area of information processing within the latest editions of the WISC, Woodcock-Johnson, and various other cognitive assessment batteries. 


The area of Executive Functioning has been added to version 5.0 of the CPI due to the increasing popularity of this cognitive construct within the educational and mental health communities. Executive Functioning refers to the overall ability to manage or regulate all of the various cognitive and emotional processes.  This involves initiation, planning, organization, and execution of various tasks as well as the ability to cope with transitions or regulate emotional responses. Subjects with Executive Functioning issues often need externalized structure (i.e. lists, schedules, etc.) and typically respond well to increased structure and predictability in their lives.  Weakness in this area is often associated with an attention deficit disorder.


Educational Implications:  The intent of any information processing model is to explain the reasons for the educational difficulties experienced by students.  The processing model used with the CPI not only helps to explain existing problems but also provides specific guidance for intervention along with the potential to predict other possible areas of difficulty (both educational and non-educational) which typically relate to a particular information processing style.  A text is also available entitled "Uncovering the Mysteries of your Learning Disability:  Discovery, Self-awareness, Self-advocacy" which is based upon the processing model used within the CPI and is intended to help students understand and cope with their specific learning disabilities.  This text provides direct and specific home and classroom interventions for each of the 6 processing subtypes covered by the CPI.


Clarification of the 6 general processing domains:


Visual Processing involves the ability to understand, remember and utilize visual information even when it becomes abstract or complex.  When they see something, especially something complex, do they understand it quickly and easily.  Can they “visualize” things (like pictures, shapes, words, etc.) in their head?  Can they remember information that they see?


        Visual Processing involves:


                       seeing differences between things

                       remembering visual details

                       filling in missing parts in pictures                                 

                       remembering general characteristics

                       visual-motor coordination

                       visualization and imagination

                       organization of their room, desk, etc.

                       artistic skills


Students with a general visual processing disability often experience most learning difficulty in the areas of math and spelling because they have trouble “visualizing” words, letters, symbols, etc. 


Specific difficulties may include:


        - writing

                       poor handwriting

                       poor spelling (cannot visualize the words)

        - math

                       difficulty visualizing problems

                       difficulty with cluttered worksheets

        - reading

                       slow speed

                       poor comprehension

        - general

                       poor organization/planning/neatness

                       difficulty rechecking work for accuracy

                       difficulty learning by demonstration

                       difficulty learning by video


Auditory Processing involves the general ability to understand, remember, and utilize auditory information..  Can they “keep up” when people talk very fast?  Can they tell voices apart easily (even on the phone)?  Can they imagine the voices of familiar people in their head?  Can they remember information that they hear?


        Auditory Processing involves:


                     hearing differences between sounds/voices

                     remembering specific words or numbers

                     remembering general sound patterns

                     understanding even when they miss some sounds

                     blending parts of words together



Students with a general auditory processing disability usually have most difficulty with general reading, general writing, and language (understanding and expressing).  Specific difficulties may include:


        - reading

                       poor decoding of new words

                       poor comprehension

        - writing

                       poor spelling/mechanics

                       poor sentence structure

        - communication

                       difficulty with expression

                       poor receptive language

        - general

                       difficulty following oral directions

                       difficulty learning in lectures


Sequential/Rational processing is generally regarded as the brain's detailed filing system.  It involves the ability to learn, memorize, organize, and express detailed or specific information including facts, figures, and formulas.


This is very much like a computer organizes and stores information.  How well does a student remember details (like names, addresses, facts, etc.)?  How organized are they?


Students with poor sequencing skills may benefit from external structure (such as lists, schedules, reminders, etc.).  Such students also sometimes have stronger conceptual processing abilities (reasoning, abstract thinking, creativity) and may learn best when first presented overviews, summaries, and underlying concepts rather than detailed facts.


        Sequential/Rational processing involves:


                       Short-term memory for details

                       long-term retrieval of details

                       fine-motor coordination

                       finding the words you want to say or write

                       organization of your thoughts and materials

                       writing mechanics (spelling, punctuation)

                       reading speed/sounding out new words

                       attention to details

                       putting words and thoughts in order


Students experiencing a general Sequential/Rational processing disability often have most learning difficulties in the areas of basic reading, math computation, expressive language, and writing mechanics.  Specific difficulties may include:


        - handwriting


                       letter reversals


                       letters in wrong sequence (order)

        - reading

                       decoding (sounding our words)


                       remembering details


        - math

                       remembering formulas/steps

        - communication

                       finding words for verbal or written expression

        - general

                       planning lengthy assignments

                       remembering details

                       paying attention - easily distracted by surroundings

                       remembering names of people or objects

                       following specific directions



Conceptual/Holistic processing involves understanding “the big picture”, overall patterns and underlying concepts for use in higher-order thinking, creating, and reasoning. 


Conceptual/holistic filing is like throwing things into boxes with very general labels. 


            Conceptual/Holistic (right-brain) processing involves:


                       memory for general themes or ideas


                       spatial awareness

                       general knowledge

                       inferential thinking


                       conceptual understanding


                       reading comprehension

                       use of context





Students experiencing a general conceptual/holistic processing disability often perform quite well during early school years but later experience difficulty with reading comprehension, math reasoning, and creative writing.  Specific difficulties may include:


        - reading

                       understanding irony, inferences, sarcasm

                       general comprehension

        - math

                       generalizing to new situations

                       story problems

        - written language

                       creative writing

        - communication

                       general language comprehension

                       understanding humor

        - general

                       global/general awareness

                       attention - may focus too much on a specific area



Processing Speed involves how quickly the brain is able to act or react in various situations.  Problems can arise when information is either processed too slowly (i.e. the subject can't keep up) or too quickly (i.e. the subject responds impulsively or carelessly). 


All LD students experience some processing speed difficulty when required to process information through their weakest processing “channel” or “modality”.  But for other LD students, a general weakness in processing speed causes difficulty in all areas. 


It is like having the brain work at 40 miles per hour when the rest of the world (and all the information) is going 55 miles per hour.  Such students just can’t keep up.


Relatively low Processing Speed is sometimes associated with ADHD - Inattentive type while relatively high Processing Speed is sometimes associated with impulsivity which can be a characteristic of ADHD – Hyperactive type.


Processing Speed involves:


                       short-term memory (with time pressure)

                       long-term retrieval (with time pressure)

                       talking speed, word-finding

                       writing speed

                       reading speed


                       reasoning (with time pressure)

                       general response speed


Students experiencing a general Processing Speed disability often have learning difficulties in all academic areas due to their inability to process all types of information quickly.  Specific difficulties may include:


        - reading

                       reading speed

                       ability to stay focused while reading

        - math

                       completing a series of problems

        - written language

                       writing speed


                       clarity (with time pressure)

        - communication

                       delays in responding

                       slow, deliberate speech

                       word-finding difficulties

        - general

                       coping with implied or expressed time pressures

                       always "a step behind"

                       difficulty maintaining attention to tasks

                       exceeding time limits during tests              

                       trouble with social pressures to perform "faster"



Executive Functioning refers to the overall ability to manage or regulate all of the various cognitive and emotional processes.  This involves initiation, planning, organization, and execution of various tasks as well as the ability to cope with transitions or regulate emotional responses. Weakness in this area is often associated with an attention deficit disorder.


        Executive Functioning skills involve:


                       ability to stay focused on tasks

                       ability to plan and anticipate

                       organization of thoughts and materials

                       ability to follow-through and complete tasks

                       ability to cope with unstructured situations

                       ability to cope with changes in routine

                       ability to regulate emotions


Students experiencing general Executive Functioning difficulties often struggle academically with work-completion, organization, and motivation for any task which is perceived as difficult, frustrating, or simply unappealing.  Specific

difficulties may include:



        - reading

                       motivation when material is “boring”

                       speed/fluency - skipping words or lines

                       remembering details


        - math

                       difficulty seeing the “relevance”

                       difficulty maintaining motivation to complete practice worksheets

        - general

                       planning lengthy assignments

                       remembering details

                       paying attention - easily distracted by surroundings

                       completing assignments

                       following specific directions

                       ability to keep school a “priority”






















Section 4


The CPI as Part of a Comprehensive LD Assessment


As mentioned previously, the CPI is not intended to be used in isolation to identify LD students but is ideally suited as one component of a broader educational assessment.  It may be most appropriate to use the CPI as a pre-referral screening measure to provide an initial indication of a student's learning/processing style followed by more comprehensive cognitive and academic assessment if indicated. 


Obviously, the goal of any assessment is to obtain data across settings which consistently points in the same interpretive direction.  In order for this to occur, it is very important that all forms of data be interpreted in terms of the same information processing model. 


The CPI and Achievement:  Table 4.1 is provided to demonstrate the relationship between the processing model of the CPI and specific areas of academic achievement. 


Table 4.1


Correlation Between CPI Processing and Achievement









Basic Reading







Reading Comprehension







Math Calculation







Math Reasoning







Writing Mechanics







Writing Content







Oral Expression







Listening Comprehension








This relationship demonstrates one of the greatest strengths of the CPI processing model.  It is not only possible, but also relatively easy to differentiate between various subtypes of learning disabilities in order to understand the cause of a student's specific learning problems and promote appropriate and effective intervention.  This can be accomplished informally as part of the pre-referral process or formally in conjunction with individual achievement test results.


The CPI and cognitive testing:  Table 4.2 displays the relationship between the CPI processing model and the various subtests of the Wisc-IV and Woodcock-Johnson III as suggested by numerous factor-analytic and empirical research studies.  Note:  The CPI computerized software package allows entry of objective test data from all current Wechsler scales (IQ and achievement), Woodcock-Johnson III tests of Cognitive Ability and Achievement, the Stanford-Binet (IV & V), and the Differential Abilities Scale (DAS 1 & 2).  This data can then be directly compared to CPI rating data for broader interpretation. 

Table 4.2


Correlation Between CPI Processing and Formal Cognitive Assessment      
















Block Design














Digit Span







Picture Concepts





















Letter-Num. Sequencing







Matrix Reasoning














Symbol Search







Picture Completion




























Word Reasoning







Piture Arrangement







Object Assembly





















Woodcock-Johnson III







Verbal Comprehension







Visual Auditory Learning







Spatial Relations







Sound Blending







Concept Formation







Visual Matching







Numbers Reversed







Incomplete Words







Auditory Working Mem.









As Table 4.2 suggests, differing patterns of subtest scatter within formal cognitive assessment batteries may be indicative of various forms of information processing difficulty. 


When the same overall pattern of information processing is demonstrated within achievement testing, cognitive assessment and the CPI, diagnostic confidence is clearly enhanced.



General Caution:  There is no pure measure of any specific area of information processing.  In other words, there can never be any one task designed to exclusively evaluate a student's abilities in a specific processing area.  Although some types of tasks are "generally" regarded as heavily favoring one type of information processing over another, every individual task requires, or at least can be performed with, alternative or combinations of processing skills.  This is why it is extremely important to always take a very broad perspective of all available information related to a student's processing pattern and never base decisions entirely upon how a student performs on a single task or activity.


































Section 5


Rating and Scoring the CPI


The CPI consists of a two-page, 65-item checklist (see Appendix A) which includes 15 items pertaining to background information and 50 items which are used to provide scores in the various cognitive processing domains.  When completed by parents, this checklist is typically sent home along with a brief explanation of the intent and purpose of the rating.  When completed by students, the checklist can either be given to them directly to complete by themselves, or it can be read to them with their responses recorded by a teacher, psychologist, etc.  It is important to note that each and every item must be completed.  Raters should be instructed to use a rating of "3" when uncertain about the correct response.  This will minimize the impact of incorrect "guesses".


Who should rate the student?  Normally, behavior rating scales such as the CPI are completed by teachers familiar with the student.  However, since the CPI requires a long-term and in-depth understanding of how a student functions in his or her every-day life, the most reliable ratings are obtained from parents.  In addition, students aged 12 or above are usually able to provide reliable and accurate ratings of themselves (norms are also provided for younger self-ratings although those results should be viewed with caution).  When both student and parent ratings are completed, it has been found that both ratings typically indicate the same general processing pattern although the raw scores for the student rating, in general, tend to be a bit higher than those of the parent rating.  This probably reflects the reluctance of students to admit the severity of their own difficulties.  Of course, the tendency of students to minimize their difficulties on the CPI is corrected when raw scores are converted to standardized scores for comparison and interpretation.  Teacher ratings tend to minimize both strengths and weaknesses due to a tendency to over-utilize the rating of "3" when uncertain of the correct rating for a given item.  For this reason, the CPI is only recommended for use as a teacher rating if the teacher has considerable long-term knowledge and understanding of the student. 


Scoring the CPI:


Computer Scoring:  Computer scoring is easily accomplished with the CPI scoring program which is included as part of the standard professional CPI package.  Computer scoring involves simply entering the raw rating data (plus any additional objective test data which may be available) into the appropriate fields of the CPI scoring program.  The computer then calculates the standardized scores, generates a graphic display of the data, provides a written interpretation of the results, and generates an extensive list of recommendations based upon the information processing pattern found.  Examiners can chose to edit the recommendation choices if desired.  The computer program also allows entry and comparison of multiple ratings from different sources and provides a statement of the apparent validity of each rating (based primarily upon the variability of item scores).  This can be extremely useful when inconsistency is found among raters. 


Detailed instructions for installation and use of the CPI professional software is provided in Section 7 of this manual.




Section 6


Interpretation of the CPI


Once you have gained a basic understanding of the processing components of the CPI (see section 3), interpretation is fairly obvious and straight-forward.  Remember, the CPI is not intended to be used as an isolated instrument to identify learning disabled students.  But the CPI clearly can be an important tool to help with such placement decisions and to clarify a strategy for educational intervention, even for students who are found not eligible for special education services.   


Interpretation of the processing scales:  After the CPI ratings have been entered into the computer scoring program a visual display of processing skills is provided.  Interpretation can be performed rather informally by simply looking for relative strengths and weaknesses across the 6 processing areas.  But the computer scoring program also generates fairly extensive interpretive statements.


Significance of differences – intra-cognitive interpretation:  As mentioned in Section 2,  by default, Standard Deviation of Difference (SDD) scores are provided to assist with the interpretation of the significance of differences (within the individual subject) between standard scores in each processing domain and the Global Processing Index.  The computer-generated report automatically calculates the number of SDDs that a specific processing standard score falls above or below the Global Processing Index.  For example, if the GPI is 100, the Auditory Processing SS is 88, and the SDD value for that rating is 8.0, that translates to a difference of -1.5 SDDs.  This would suggest that Auditory Processing is moderately discrepant from the GPI indicating an apparent relative weakness in this area.  For interpretation, "moderate discrepancy" is found in the range of 1 to 2 SDDs (either positive or negative) from the GPI.  2 or more SDDs from the GPI represents a "severe discrepancy" and would indicate either a significant strength or significant weakness in that processing area.  Besides the SDD which has just been discussed, the CPI also provides SDD scores pertaining to differences between dichotomously paired processing domains.  These would include: Auditory Processing vs Visual Processing, and Sequential Processing vs Conceptual processing.  Again, 1 or more SDDs between these processing areas would indicate a moderate to severe difference.  The significance of any differences is identified and clarified by the computer scoring software.


Significance of differences – inter-cognitive interpretation:  As mentioned in Section 2, examiners are given the option of basing interpretations on inter-cognitive comparisons if desired.  Inter-cognitive comparisons simply involve comparing a subject’s standard scores in each processing area with the mean standard score of the norm group (100).  For interpretation, standard scores between 70 and 85 would be considered “moderately discrepant” and scores below 70 would be considered “severely discrepant” from the mean of the norm group.  Although this is not the recommended interpretive process, it may help to differentiate among generalized processing issues (when all scores are relatively low and intra-cognitive comparison identifies no significant processing pattern).


Statistical Significance vs Logical Significance:


The paragraphs above refer to "statistical significance" which is commonly used by practitioners as a convenient means of establishing the "probability" that a difference in scores actually represents a real difference in skills.  Although establishing this statistical probability certainly provides an objective means of interpreting the data, too often such values or formulas are used as the primary, if not sole basis for determining eligibility or placement decisions.  In reality, for some individuals, differences less than the "significant" value may actually represent a "severe" area of difficulty.  On the other hand, other individuals may be able to cope very well even with rather high statistical differences.  Ultimately, it is important for the examiner and/or assessment team to compare relative strengths and weaknesses indicated on the CPI (even differences of less than 1 SDD) with other data available (from cognitive assessment, achievement assessment, background information, behavioral observation, etc.) in order to determine the consistency and "logical significance" of any pattern found.  In many ways, this logical significance is far more valuable than statistical significance when making important educational decisions.


Caution regarding "gifted" individuals:  One of the more intriguing aspects of learning disabilities is the fact that every person has some capacity to compensate for his or her processing weakness(es).  This is especially true of bright or "gifted" individuals.  It is quite possible for such a person to effectively conceal his or her learning difficulties from teachers and parents, at least for a while.  It is also quite possible for such a person to compensate quite well during formal cognitive assessment, even on tasks that would normally involve their greatest processing difficulties.  For this reason it is especially important for assessment teams to take a very broad perspective when looking for processing patterns in bright students or adults.  Don't be fooled by a person's ability to effectively conceal his or her difficulties.  Cognitive processing patterns (either from formal cognitive assessment or from the CPI) will often underestimate the real severity of an information processing disability for bright or gifted individuals.


Interrelationship across processing clusters:  As mentioned previously, there can be no pure measure or rating of any distinct area of information processing.  For example, by definition, general sequential processing involves a combination of visual sequencing and auditory sequencing.  Therefore, a weakness in general sequencing would naturally impact both general visual and general auditory processing to some extent.  Obviously, a similar relationship is found among conceptual, visual, and auditory processing areas.  For this reason, often the most relevant comparisons will be between the 2 dichotomously related processing areas (sequential vs conceptual and visual vs auditory).  The area of processing speed is somewhat related to all of the other processing areas because a weakness in any of the other areas will naturally result in somewhat slower processing of some types of information.  Similarly, a subject may not be able to demonstrate effective executive functioning if there is also some other area of information processing weakness.


Because of these interrelationships, several areas of relative processing weakness may be indicated for some individuals.  In these cases it is important to look both at the severity of the weaknesses indicated along with how well each area of suggested difficulty "fits" with the learning difficulties experienced by the person.  In some cases the ultimate interpretation will be reduced to one processing area whereas in other cases all indicated processing areas may be appropriately identified as relative weaknesses.  What is most important is that the ultimate interpretation "makes sense" from the standpoint of what is commonly known and understood about the particular person being rated.


Relationship between LD and ADD or ADHD:  There are numerous references in research literature about the relationship between learning disabilities and attentional difficulties.  This relationship really isn't very surprising given the characteristics of the various forms of information processing disability.  For example, a weakness in sequential processing (probably the most common processing problem for LD students) naturally results in some difficulty focusing on details along with a tendency to be overly sensitive to general surrounding distractions.  Similarly, weaknesses in visual or auditory processing naturally result in some difficulty maintaining attention to either visual or auditory instruction.  Conversely, a student with an attention deficit disorder naturally will experience difficulty attending to, and therefore "processing" various types of information.


Using the CPI to screen for ADD or ADHD:  Research (both within and beyond the CPI) has suggested a relatively strong correlation between low processing speed and passive inattention (or ADHD Inattentive Type).  Conversely, high processing speed often suggests impulsiveness which correlates highly with ADHD Hyperactive Type.  Similarly, executive functioning difficulties have been implicated as common characteristics among the ADHD population.  Although such cluster comparisons may be suggestive of broader attentional concerns, the CPI is not intended to provide a diagnosis of attention deficit disorders.


A word about Conceptual processing:  Although the area of conceptual processing has been firmly established in research and has a clearly dichotomous relationship with sequential processing, very few identified LD students are found to actually have a weakness in conceptual processing.  In fact, for most identified LD students, conceptual processing represents their greatest strength.  This probably relates to the fact that the basic academic skills emphasized in elementary grades (when most learning disabled students are identified) rely heavily upon sequential processing.  Students with conceptual processing difficulties are often able to learn and memorize detailed information, can read and spell quickly and easily, and can remember basic math formulas.  The difficulty these students have with conceptualization often does not become apparent until secondary grades when they begin to struggle with underlying concepts, inferential thinking, creative writing, and abstract problem-solving. 


Evaluating the impact of culture, language, or other environmental factors:  Whenever attempting to diagnose a learning disability it is important to rule-out factors other than a true learning disability which may be negatively impacting a student’s education.  Beginning with version 6.0, the CPI provides support for identifying and ruling out such factors.  First, the rating forms solicit background and demographic data which helps to identify potential rule-out factors such as behavioral interference, inconsistent educational exposure, lack of instruction in English (either due to schooling in a foreign country or in a foreign language immersion program), lack of English language fluency, or something other than English as the primary language spoken at home.  Any identified rule-out factors are then listed on the report to be taken into consideration by the examiner.  Second, the CPI report includes a Culture/Language Impact index (both on the graphic display and within the report text) to provide an objective measure of the apparent impact of cultural or language issues.  By default, the Culture/Language Index is displayed whenever potential issues of culture or language are identified on the rating form.  A checkbox is provided on the Report Preview screen for the examiner to manually include or exclude the Culture/Language index as desired.  Note – due to the obvious overlap between the Culture/Language index and certain information processing domains (especially the auditory processing index), it is not possible to ever fully rule in or rule out the impact of cultural or language issues.  By “rule of thumb”, if the Culture/Language index falls within or above the average or “normal” range (i.e. above -1.0 SDD) you can be fairly confident that issues of culture or language are not significantly impacting the student.  On the other hand, if the Culture/Language index shows at least “moderate concern” and is lower than any of the information processing indexes, it is quite possible that issues of culture and/or language are primary factors impacting the student’s academic progress.
























Section 7



Installation and Use of the CPI Professional Software




If the CPI software package was downloaded from the web site, your web browser probably unstuffed the file and created the appropriate CPI installer (for Mac or Windows) on your hard drive. Whether installing from the downloaded installer or from the CD-ROM, simply open the installer and follow the on-screen instructions.






During installation, by default the CPI package is placed either in the 'Program Files' directory (Windows) or in your main hard drive directory (Macintosh) unless you select a different location.






An 'alias' or 'shortcut' is also created on your Windows desktop or Macintosh Dock for easy access to the CPI application.


Important: Always be sure that all files related to the CPI scoring application remain inside the CPI Pro folder/directory where they first exist.  If these files are moved, the scoring program and/or registration codes may not function properly.



Using the CPI:


To begin using any of the CPI materials (scoring file, forms, manual, instructions, etc.) simply double-click the CPI Pro application or the desktop shortcut (or alias).  If you are opening a demonstration version of the application, you will first be presented a popup message describing the limitations of that version along with options for upgrading your registration.







Simply click “OK” in the “Registration Notice” window in order to proceed to the actual application. 
















If you have purchased a registration code, click the button near the top of the next screen (shown below) to enter the code and register the software.







This will open a separate registration window where you can enter your registration code.



After entering a valid registration code, you will be presented a “Thank You” message.  Simply click “OK” on that message and the software will reopen to complete the registration process.


If you are using a registered version of the CPI, the application will open directly to the screen which gives various options including viewing/printing forms, starting a new entry or viewing a list of existing entries.






If you are wishing to view or edit an existing entry you can simply select the name of the subject from the drop-down list and click the appropriate button to the right of the name.






Completing an entry on a new subject is accomplished in 4 easy steps as follows:


Step 1: From the opening screen click the button entitled 'View/Print CPI Rating Forms'. A new window will open in which you can preview and/or print the various paper rating forms. You may either print 1 copy of each form and then duplicate them as needed or just print new forms as you need them. In either case, the printed forms will note the expiration date for you to legally print or duplicate the forms (based upon your registration status).








Step 2: Distribute CPI rating forms to parents, teachers, and/or subjects and collect the completed forms for scoring.















Step 3: To score completed CPI forms, simply open the CPI Pro application and click the 'New Entry' button.


















A new window will open which allows entry of subject information including name, age, grade, school, etc. Be sure to enter an age in whole years (no dashes, decimal points, months, etc.) and sex so that the norm-referenced scores can be accurately calculated.




















Then select the appropriate button below that section to begin entering actual rating data (from parent, teacher, or self-ratings).



















For each parent entry you may select from a list of parent/guardian types to be used as the label in the interpretive chart and descriptions.





















You may enter multiple ratings for each subject (i.e. parent, teacher, and/or student/self ratings) in order to directly compare results on the graphic display provided in the report.





Step 4: When available ratings have been entered, simply click the 'Calculate Scores/View Report' button at the top of the window. A new window will open in which you can preview graphic displays of each rating category, combine or separate parent or teacher ratings or exclude certain ratings. You may also select the level of significance required for interpretation as described below.






















The default interpretation is based upon intra-cognitive differences (within the subject) based upon the significance of such differences found within the norm group.  Although this is clearly the most appropriate interpretive option, in rare cases you may wish to switch to the alternate inter-cognitive comparison (using the button in the top right corner of the screen) which will simply base interpretations on differences between obtained standard scores and the mean of the norm group (100). 









To the right of the graphic display and data chart are additional buttons allowing you to combine/separate multiple parent or teacher ratings or exclude specific ratings (possibly due to low validity).

Combining/Separating parent or teacher ratings:  By default, the CPI scoring program combines highly similar parent ratings and separates dissimilar ratings.  You can override this selection simply by clicking the appropriate button to the right of the data chart.  By default, any available teacher ratings are combined to provide a display of the average teacher rating.  Again, you can override the default selection by simply clicking the appropriate button to the right of the data chart.

Excluding Certain Ratings: If it is felt that a given rating may be invalid (and inappropriately skew the overall results or cause confusion) that rating can simply be excluded from the charts and interpretations by clicking the appropriate button to the right of the data chart. Any excluded rating can be 'included' again by simply clicking the same button.




Optional Technical Report:  From the Graphic Report screen you may view a somewhat more technical report layout by clicking the appropriate button at the top of the screen.


This report provides the actual standard scores standard deviation of difference (SDD) scores, and global processing index (GPI) scores for each specific rating along with the overall interpretation summary.


















From any of the report screens you may choose to view and/or edit computer-generated recommendations by clicking the appropriate button at the top of the screen.


Then you may scroll through all possible recommendations and select (by clicking “yes”) or deselect (by clicking “no”) those which are deemed appropriate.

















Printing Reports:


Various print/save buttons are included in any layout which can be printed (usually at the bottom of the page).




Clicking the chosen print button will bring up your normal print screen giving you options such as number of copies, which pages to print, etc.  Be sure the page range is set appropriately for the pages you wish to print.





Note:  For best viewing and printing results the Times New Roman font should be installed on your computer.

Saving Reports:


You may also email the report text.


Sending report text via email is accomplished by simply clicking the “Send as Email” button at the bottom of the report screen or selecting the appropriate option from the “Scripts” menu.  This option only works if your computer is set up with a default email application. 


In the screen which opens, simply enter a valid email address and edit the subject and message body as desired before clicking the “Send Mail” button.  After clicking this button a popup message will inform you that the message has been placed in the outbox of your email application.  You will then be automatically returned to the Graphic Report screen.


Deleting Records:


If you would like to delete any or all of the records in your CPI file (possibly to start fresh each school year), from the opening screen select the “View List of Records” button.  The screen below will open showing you a list of all available records.  From this list you may either delete individual records or select the button at the top to delete all records. 





If you would like to delete all records but also save an archived copy of the file (for later review) select the “Archive & Delete all records” button. 








This option will open a window asking you to select a location for saving the copied file.  Be sure to navigate to the CPI Pro folder/directory.   This location can be found on Windows/PC computers in the Program Files directory of  your C Drive (unless you chose a different location during installation).  For Macintosh users, the CPI Pro folder/directory is located in your Applications folder (unless you chose a different location during installation).














You may also rename the saved file as you see fit (perhaps including the year or date saved).


















At a later date when you wish to reopen the archived file, simply select that option from the top of the “View List of Records” CPI screen and navigate to the CPI Pro folder/directory to open the desired file.




This archived file will open directly in front of the current CPI screen and you can navigate from one file to the other by using the “Window” menu.  Both files will close when you exit the CPI application.










Free Trial Period/Registration Code:


All LDinfo software is provided either through entirely online Apps (which work with any internet browser from anywhere) or downloaded applications (compatible with Windows OS, MacOS, or IOS). Initially, these apps or applications are provided a no cost and with sufficient functionality in order for you to fully evaluation their potential usefulness for your particular needs.


In order to unlock full professional functionality you would need to purchase a registration code with varying pricing options depending on number of software users and desured length of registration (from 6 months to 3 years). Click here to view pricing options.


You may always increase your length of authorized use by purchasing a new registration code (instructions for purchasing this code are provided on the web site) and entering this code iwithin the specific LDinfo App or application.





CPI Forms: During your period of authorized use you may view, print, and duplicate any CPI forms which you may need.


There is a button near the top of the CPI application main window which will allow you to view and/or print CPI rating forms. There are 2 versions of the rating forms, one for parents or teachers to complete and the other for subjects to rate themselves (not recommended for children younger than age 10).


You may either print 1 copy of each form and then duplicate them as needed or just print new forms as you need them. In either case, the printed forms will note the expiration date for you to legally print, duplicate, or distribute them (based upon your registration status).


NOTE: During your free trial period or after your registration period has expired any printed report will bear the designation 'Unauthorized Report, Not for Distribution'.







































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