American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology consensus conference statement on uniform labeling of performance test scores

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Objectives: Descriptive labels of performance test scores are a critical component of communicating outcomes of neuropsychological and psychological evaluations. Yet, no universally accepted system exists for assigning qualitative descriptors to scores in specific ranges. In addition, the definition and use of the term “impairment” lacks specificity and consensus. Consequently, test score labels and the denotation of impairment are inconsistently applied by clinicians, creating confusion among consumers of neuropsychological services, including referral sources, trainees, colleagues, and the judicial system. To reduce this confusion, experts in clinical and forensic neuropsychological and psychological assessment convened in a consensus conference at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology (AACN). The goals of the consensus conference were to recommend (1) a system of qualitative labels to describe results from performance-based tests with normal and non-normal distributions and (2) a definition of impairment and its application in individual case determinations. Results: The goals of the consensus conference were met resulting in specific recommendations for the application of uniform labels for performance tests and for the definition of impairment, which are described in this paper. In addition, included in this consensus statement is a description of the conference process and the rationales for these recommendations. Conclusions/Importance: This consensus conference is the first formal attempt by the professional neuropsychological community to make recommendations for uniform performance test score labels and to advance a consistent definition of impairment. Using uniform descriptors and terms will reduce confusion and enhance report comprehensibility by the consumers of our reports as well as our trainees and colleagues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-453
Number of pages17
JournalClinical Neuropsychologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2 2020


  • Impairment
  • performance tests
  • qualitative descriptors
  • test score labels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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