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Frequently Asked Questions about the CPI


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What exactly is the CPI?

The CPI (cognitive processing inventory) is a behavior rating scale designed to provide a norm-referenced rating of real-life information processing strengths and weaknesses of students with learning disabilities (or potential learning disabilities). It can be completed by parents, teachers, or even the students themeselves.


What's the difference between the online CPI and the Professional CPI?

The online CPI allows parents, teachers, or individuals to quickly and easily screen for potential information processing concerns and obtain suggestion for intervention at no cost. The Professional CPI software allows educational and/or mental health professionals a means of directly comparing data from multiple observers across various settings. The computer-generated report provides both a graphic display of all rating data and extensive written interpretation which includes suggested educational recommendations. In addition, the professional CPI allows the examiner to use either the default 'intra-cognitive' comparison or the alternative 'inter-cognitive' comparison for broader interpretation


Who should complete the CPI?

The CPI can be completed by any parental figure or school staff who has had long-term opportunity to observe the student's behavior in a variety of settings and situations. Since the CPI is intended to evaluate real-life processing patterns and characteristics, parent ratings are generally more valid and accurate than are teacher ratings (unless the teacher has had long-term experience with the student). Students/individuals can also rate themselves assuming they have the maturity, mental capacity, and willingness to honestly and objectively rate their own relative strengths and weaknesses.


Does the CPI identify a learning disability?

A learning disability exists when a student is experiencing a significant information processing issue which results in a severe level of underachievement. While the CPI is designed and intended to provide an evaluation of potential information processing concerns, it does not and cannot measure the significance of a student's possible underachievement. Relatively significant processing concerns noted on the CPI may be indicative of a learning disability and provide direction for intervention, but the CPI is not intended to diagnose a learning disability.


My child really struggles in school but the CPI shows no apparent processing problems. How can this be?

The CPI provides a rating of relative processing strengths and weaknesses within the individual student. Students with learning disabilities typically demonstrate specific areas of strength as well as weakness. When scores across all processing areas are consistent (either low or high) a pattern of relative strengths and weaknesses cannot be determined and the CPI will identify no concerns. When a struggling student does not demonstrate the typical LD pattern of strengths and weaknesses, this may suggest either global or generalized information processing issues (sometimes related to low cognitive ability) or an invalid rating (possibly due to a rater who is either overly critical or does not have enough familiarity with the student to provide a valid rating).


My child has been diagnosed with Executive Functioning problems but the CPI does not identify this. How can this be?

Executive functioning is an emerging term which refers to a theoretically global ability to manage or regulate several basic 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. Most students with a learning disability demonstrate difficulty with certain aspects of executive functioning. As a result, when executive functioning is evaluated 'in isolation' it is quite commonly identified as an area of concern within the LD population. The area of executive functioning is included within the CPI in order to help clarify how the student's overall executive functioning abilities compare with his/her other more specific information processing skills. When a student demonstrates similar difficulty in all processing areas (including executive functioning) it is quite possible that no specific area of information processing concern will be identified (see question directly above). In other cases a student may simply demonstrate much more significant difficulty in other processing areas resulting in 'no concern' related to executive functioning. In this case, the more specific processing concerns may be the real underlying cause of any apparent executive functioning difficulties.


What is the difference between 'inter-cognitive' and 'intra-cognitive' differences?

By default, the CPI provides an evaluation of intra-cognitive processing differences which represents relative strengths and weaknesses within the individual being rated. This is accomplished by comparing the differences noted on each CPI rating form with “normal” differences found within the norm group (based on age and gender). In other words, this type of norm-referenced comparison provides a clear indication of the statistical significance of differences between and among the various processing areas. Intra-cognitive analysis establishes a mean of 0 (zero) and positive and negative standard deviation of difference (SDD) values for each rating. This allows multiple ratings (from various sources) to be directly compared in order to determine consistent or pervasive information processing patterns across sources or settings.

In contrast, Inter-cognitive comparison simply compares a given subject’s standard scores in each processing area with the statistical mean of the norm group (100) in each specific area. While this may represent a traditional means of determining relative strengths and weaknesses in comparison to the norm group, it provides little clarification of the significance of differences within the individual subject. And since inter-cognitive comparison is based solely upon comparison with the norm group, relatively critical or lenient ratings will be plotted at different extremes making direct comparison of multiple ratings difficult at best.

The option of inter-cognitive interpretation is offered primarily for situations in which no significant intra-cogntive differences are found. This sometimes occurs when a subject has generalized information processing issues (across several or all categories) which may not be revealed via intra-cognitive comparison. The inter-cognitive option should be utilized rarely and with extreme caution as it may yield confusing or seemingly inconsistent results.


Why does the scoring program default to 'intra-cognitive' differences?

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 own brain.


How can I view and/or print the standard scores for each processing area?

Click the 'Technical Report' tab at the top of the report preview screen. That will take you to a screen on which you may view and/or print the actual standard scores.


All of the standard scores are very low but the interpretation identifies no processing problems. How can this be?

Since the default interpretation is based upon 'intra-cognitive' differences (relative strengths and weaknesses within the individual being rated) when all scores fall at a similar level (regardless of how low they may be) no significant information processing pattern can be identified. The professional CPI application provides the option to switch to 'inter-cognitive' comparison (seeing how this individual's scores compare to the norm group) in such situations.


What is the difference between 'moderate' and 'severe' concern?

Moderate concern is noted when a discrepancy value is just outside of the average range. Statistically, less than 16% of the general population would demonstrate this level of discrepancy. Severe concern is found in less than 2% of the general population.


The chart shows processing speed to be higher than any other area yet this is identified as a problem. Why?

Unlike the other processing areas, processing speed can pose a problem when it is either too low (i.e. the student cannot keep up with instruction) or too high (i.e. the student acts/reacts impulsively and carelessly). The CPI is designed to identify either of these possibilities.


The interpretation suggests that processing speed is both too high and too low. How can this be?

This simply means that some ratings identified relatively fast and possibly impulsive processing while other ratings identified slow or delayed processing. Although this may seem contradictory, it actually is fairly common. Sometimes a person with generally slow processing speed will act or react impulsively in certain situations rather than taking the extra time needed to develop a more thoughtful response. In other cases, a naturally impulsive person may have difficulty ‘getting engaged’ or working efficiently causing them to appear to process information slowly. The combination of both slow and impulsive processing is often associated with an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


I have already entered the teacher ratings but now I have a parent rating to enter. Is there a way to enter the new information into the existing record or do I need to start a new record?

From the opening screen of the software, select the student's name and then click the 'Edit this record' button to the right. You can then enter any additional rating data which will be included and compared with the data already entered.


I am installing the latest version of the CPI professional software, how can I import my old records into the new version?

Importing data from a previous version or previously exported file is accomplished using the script menu at the top of the screen. Since new software sometimes includes updated norms (and sometimes different or reorganized items), importing older data is not always advised and is not necessary. The new version is always installed separately from the old so that you have access to both old and new records and scoring software.

Click here for special instructions for importing into CPI Pro 6.3


My CPI registration is about to expire, how do I renew?

Simply complete the online order form under the 'Orders' tab at the top of this page. If your school or organization uses purchase orders, simply complete the online non-credit card order form and you will receive an automated email confirmation which should provide you with all of the necessary information. Your new registration code will be sent to you via email. If your software is out of date you should probably download and install the latest version before ordering the new registration (of course you can also request a new installation CD with your order).

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