ctopp 2, ctopp-2, Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing,

Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing, Second Edition (CTOPP-2) is one of the most common assessment tools used by speech language pathologists to evaluate a child’s phonological processing abilities, which are important prerequisites to reading fluency.

The CTOPP-2 is a standardized assessment that can be used to measure phonological processing skills (including phonological awareness, phonological memory, and naming skills). It can be given to children between the ages of 4 years and 24 years 11 months-old.

What does the CTOPP-2 test for?

In speech therapy practice, administering the CTOPP-2 allows the therapist to identify and diagnose phonological processing disorders. Analyzing the 12 subtests within the CTOPP-2 can help an SLP determine a child’s specific areas of phonological strengths and weaknesses.

The results of this assessment can be used to develop an individualized treatment plan for clients. Periodic reassessment of the CTOPP-2 can provide an objective measure of a client’s progress towards goals in speech therapy.

Here, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide to the CTOPP-2, including the objectives of the assessment, administration, scoring and interpretation. We’ll also discuss how to tailor speech therapy intervention based on the results of the CTOPP-2.

Why do we administer CTOPP-2?

The 2nd edition of the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP-2) was published in 2013 and is the most recent edition of this assessment. It was developed by the following authors: Richard Wagner, Joseph Torgesen, Carol Rashotte, Nils A. Pearson.

The CTOPP-2 assesses phonological processing abilities across a wide age range. It is suitable for use with both children and young adults.

The purpose of the CTOPP-2 is to assess various phonological processes, including:
  • Phonological awareness
  • Phonological memory
  • Rapid naming

The test is composed of 12 subtests in addition to supplemental tests, which assess an individual’s specific strengths and areas of difficulties with regards to phonological processes.

The subtests included in the CTOPP-2 are:
  • Elision
  • Blending words
  • Sound matching
  • Phoneme isolation
  • Blending nonwords
  • Segmenting nonwords
  • Memory for digits
  • Nonword repetition
  • Rapid digit naming
  • Rapid letter naming
  • Rapid color naming
  • Rapid object naming

There are two age levels within the test: Ages 4-6 and ages 7-24.

How to administer the CTOPP-2

It is critical for speech therapists to have a thorough understanding of how to conduct the CTOPP-2 prior to administering the assessment. This helps ensure that the test yields accurate and reliable results. 

  • Familiarization with the CTOPP-2

The SLP should start by thoroughly familiarizing themself with the CTOPP-2  examiner’s manual and instructions. The clinician should note the ceilings provided so they know when to stop administering each subtest.

The CTOPP-2 Manual provides suggestions specific to administering the assessment.

  • Preparation of testing environment

The therapist should be sure to gather the required materials prior to administering the assessment.

This includes:
  • The Examiner Record Booklet (for the correct age of the client)
  • Picture book
  • Digital audio file (can be downloaded prior to the assessment)
  • A device for playing the digital audio file
  • A stopwatch or device for timing
  • Sharpened pencil with eraser

  • Administration

When administering the CTOPP-2, the clinician should provide clear instructions for each subtest that follows those provided in the manual, within a quiet testing environment.

For example, during administration of the Elision subtest, the clinician will instruct the client to say a word after omitting part of it. For example: Say “cowboy” without saying “cow” (the correct response here is “boy”).

The clinician should pay close attention to when specific directions are to be given, keeping in mind that test items are presented in order of developmental progression.

Administration of the entire CTOPP-2 takes an estimated 40 minutes to complete. Therefore, the clinician should ensure there is a sufficient amount of time allotted within an evaluation to complete the assessment.

Scoring and interpreting CTOPP-2 results

Scoring criteria and interpretation guidelines

The clinician will calculate a raw score for each of the 12 subtests within the CTOPP-2.

Using the examiner’s manual, the SLP will look for the normative table for the client’s current age, and use this to yield subtest scaled scores, percentile ranks, and age equivalencies for each subtest.

Scaled scores can be used to compare the individual’s performance to the normative sample.

Composite scores are valuable scores yielded from the CTOPP-2. These are a combination of individual subtests.

There are 5 composites:
  • Phonological Awareness Component Scores (PACS)
  • Phonological Memory Component Scores (PMCS)
  • Rapid Symbolic Naming Composite Score (RSNCS)
  • Rapid Non-Symbolic Naming Composite Score (RNNCS)
  • Alternate Phonological Awareness Composite Score (APACS) (available for 7 to 24 year-olds).

When interpreting scores, the clinician will look at the missed items within each subtest to determine the child’s areas of difficulty, and the items scored correctly as skills the child demonstrates.

Scaled scores of individual subtests and composite scores can be examined to determine a client’s abilities in these specific areas of phonological processing. Examining how many standard deviations below normal the client’s score falls can assist the clinician in determining the severity of the client’s difficulties (i.e., mild, moderate, or severe).

Role of the CTOPP-2 in speech therapy

The CTOPP-2 plays a central role in speech therapy by providing a thorough assessment of a client’s phonological processing skills. This can also help the clinician identify red flags for potential reading difficulties.

Speech therapists can use the results of the CTOPP-2 to develop a customized treatment plan aimed at improving a client’s speech, language, and reading skills.

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Documentation and incorporating CTOPP-2 results

Accurate and comprehensive documentation of testing results is essential. It allows the SLP to track a client’s progress, make data-driven decisions, and communicate clearly and effectively with caregivers and other professionals working with a client.

The CTOPP-2 scores should be clearly documented in an evaluation or reevaluation report. This includes both the scores and often a narrative description of the client’s performance on the test.

By identifying the client’s areas of strengths and difficulties on this assessment, the clinician can develop goals and determine appropriate treatment strategies to use in therapy.

Periodic reassessment of the CTOPP-2 can provide the clinician with valuable feedback on the effectiveness of the treatment approach being used. It allows the clinician to compare the client’s performance with previous administrations to objectively measure their progress towards improving phonological processing skills in therapy. 

Future trends and advancements

Speech therapy assessments, including those examining phonological processing and reading skills, are expected to continue to evolve as technology advances.

These advances have the potential to enhance an SLP’s assessment and intervention with clients who have phonological processing disorders and reading disorders.  

Standardized tests used by SLPs continue to be developed in a digital form. This is likely to occur with reading assessments, which will allow speech therapists to administer the tests over telepractice or in person with the use of a tablet.

As teletherapy continues to be used as a platform for delivering speech therapy, digital tools can be used to target a client’s specific needs, as identified on tests such as the CTOPP-2. This includes activities such as Boom Cards and other online speech therapy games.

The Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing, Second Edition (CTOPP-2) is a valuable assessment tool for SLPs working with children who have phonological processing delays that can contribute to a potential reading disorder.

The CTOPP-2 results can be used to improve reading and communication skills by allowing SLPs to identify a client’s specific areas of need regarding phonological processing skills.


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