Assessment Q&A: Using the TILLS Test Virtually

TILLS™ is the assessment professionals rely on to test students’ oral and written language skills—and now we have the evidence that this trusted test can be reliably administered using distance technology when you can’t see students face to face. After a 2020 study supported the validity of administering TILLS virtually, the TILLS developers created supplemental Tele-TILLS materials to guide users who are supporting students in online settings. In today’s post, we’ll answer 10 important questions about Tele-TILLS, including who can administer it, what materials you’ll need, and whether you can use Tele-TILLS with the Easy-Score.

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Who developed the Tele-TILLS?
The four authors— Nikola Wolf Nelson, Ph.D., Elena Plante, Ph.D., Nancy Helm-Estabrooks, Sc.D., and Gillian Hotz, Ph.D.—have been working as a team for more than a decade. They’re highly respected for their test-building skills and evidence-based work in the fi­eld of language and literacy assessment. (Learn more about the authors here.)

Why administer the Tele-TILLS?
The Tele-TILLS allows examiners to test students’ oral and written language skills by delivering the TILLS via a videoconferencing platform—a convenient and sometimes necessary option during the pandemic and beyond. Tele-TILLS facilitates remote assessment for identifying the presence of language and literacy disorders.

Which students should be assessed with Tele-TILLS?
Tele-TILLS is ideal for evaluating students between the ages of 6 and 18 years who:

  • are suspected of having a primary (specifi­c) language impairment
  • are suspected of having a learning disability, specifi­c reading disability, or dyslexia
  • have existing diagnoses associated with difficulties in oral and/or written language
  • are struggling with language, literacy, or social communication skills

The Tele-TILLS should be administered when the assessment must occur via a videoconferencing platform.

Who can administer the Tele-TILLS?
TILLS can be administered by speech-language pathologists, special educators, reading specialists, learning disability specialists, neuropsychologists, educational psychologists, and other educational specialists trained in individualized test administration who can diagnose dyslexia and other disorders. Tele-TILLS examiners must own a copy of the TILLS Examiner’s Kit and have experience in administering TILLS using traditional face-to-face methods.

What are the components?
The Tele-TILLS components are:

  • Digital Tele-TILLS Stimulus Book. This audio-enhanced stimulus book contains the stimuli needed to administer the TILLS subtests virtually.
  • Tele-TILLS instructions. This is a PDF of clear guidelines for administering TILLS using distance technology, including technical details, materials needed, step-by-step examiner instructions, and tips on scoring and interpreting results.
  • Facilitator instructions. This is a handy, one-page quick guide for parents and other adult facilitators who are assisting with technology setup and troubleshooting during virtual administration of TILLS.

How many copies of Tele-TILLS do I need?
One copy of Tele-TILLS should be purchased for each TILLS Examiner’s Kit.

What else do I need to deliver the Tele-TILLS?
To deliver the Tele-TILLS, examiners will need paper copies of the Examiner Record Form and the Student Response Form. The Student Response Form should be delivered to the location of the student prior to testing. Both the examiner and the student must have a computer with a camera, as well as a strong internet connection. A second camera (for instance, a smartphone camera) is recommended as well.

How long does it take to administer the Tele-TILLS?
Comprehensive assessment with TILLS or Tele-TILLS can typically be administered in just 90 minutes or less.

Can I use the TILLS Easy-Score™ with Tele-TILLS?
Yes. TILLS Easy-Score™ is your electronic scoring solution for TILLS and Tele-TILLS. Easy-Score saves you time by automating steps to complete the Examiner Record Form’s Scoring Chart and Identifi­cation Chart. (Learn more about the Easy-Score here.)

Can I trust Tele-TILLS results?
Yes. Between April and September of 2020, the TILLS developers conducted a study to gather scientific evidence to determine if the test can be administered using distance technology without affecting its validity for the primary purpose of identifying the presence of a language/literacy disorder. The results of the study do support the validity of administering TILLS remotely for this purpose. (Learn more about the study here.)

If you’re a TILLS user and you’re interested in Tele-TILLS, follow the links below:

Visit the TILLS website to learn more and order
Get step-by-step instructions on downloading Tele-TILLS

And if you’re new to TILLS, explore the website today for a video introduction to the assessment, webinars and case stories, a free sampler, and more!

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