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California Verbal Learning Test - Children (CVLT-C)
Please visit this website for more information about the instrument: California Verbal Learning Test-Children
Supplemental ? Highly Recommended: Cerebral Palsy (CP), Myalgic encephalopathy/Chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS)
Supplemental: Epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Neuromuscular Disease (NMD), Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and Epidemiology Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Basic: Acute Hospitalized TBI, Moderate/Severe TBI, & Concussion/Mild TBI
Exploratory: Sport-Related Concussion (SRC)
Short Description of Instrument
Purpose: This scale evaluates children and adolescents who have attention, learning and memory impairments that may have resulted from traumatic brain injury or are evidenced by mild to severe learning disabilities, attention-deficit disorders, intellectual disability, psychiatric problems, or other neurological disorders. It measures multiple aspects of how verbal learning occurs, or fails to occur, as well as the amount of verbal material learned.
Comment: The California Verbal Learning Test for Children (CVLT-C) is a serial word list learning task containing words that have semantic (category) associations.
Verbal learning is tested using 5 learning trials of 15 words separated into three categories: clothes, fruits, and toys. A second list of 15 words is presented next for a single trial (distractor trial) consisting of 15 words divided into furniture, fruits and desserts, followed by a free and cued recall trial of the initial word list. Delayed recall and recognition are also obtained, in addition to scores characterizing the child's learning profile, such as learning strategy and errors.  Reliability measures for the CVLT-C are good (MacNeill Horton, 1996).
Designed for children 5 years of age and older, extended norms for the CVLT-C are available for children as young as 4 years of age.
Time Estimate: The CVLT-C is individually administered and is 15–20 minutes long, plus a 20 minute interval in which child completes non-verbal tasks, which is included in order to assess delayed recall.
Alternative Language: A Spanish language version of the CVLT-C can be used for Spanish speaking children.
Accessibility: The CP–CFCS I-II/III requires ability to say words that are comprehensible to an unfamiliar listener.
A T score assesses overall performance (M=50, SD=10). Other variables are expressed as age-corrected z scores (M = 0, SD = 1), including short delay free recall (SDFR), short delay semantically cued recall (SDCR), long delay free recall (LDFR), long delay semantically cued recall (LDCR), and discriminability index (DISC). The CVLT-C can be manually scored, proprietary scoring software is available.
Compared with the RAVLT, "the CVLT-C provides a more comprehensive set of indices to allow for the identification of disorder-specific profiles of deficits in learning strategies and processes and has a wider age range (down to age 4 years with supplemental normative data) with a substantial degree of validation in pediatric TBI research." –McCauley et al., 2012.
CP Specific: Initial findings from research using the CVLT-C in children with CP were interpreted as evidence of impairments in prefrontally-mediated executive aspects of learning.
ME/CFS Specific: The CVLT-C assists in understanding a child's attention, memory and learning processes.  Currently, no publications exist examining the CVLT-C specifically as it pertains to the investigation of pediatric learning processes in ME/CFS.  However, examination of these processes should be of primary concern in ME/CFS.
Sport-Related Concussion Specific:
Advantage: The CVLT-C is a memory measure developed for children and compares well with the adult CVLT. It includes a variety of indices to measure different aspects of memory. The study by Baker et al. (2014), a concussion specific study, looked at validity indicators (recognition discriminability) in children and found relatively good sensitivity and specificity.
Limitations: The measure is relatively long cannot be repeated in close proximity to the next administration due to limitations in alternate forms.
TBI Specific: The CVLT-C is a measure of verbal learning and delayed recall. The test can identify particular disorders the subject may have based on they apply learning strategies. The test has good psychometric properties and has been used in pediatric TBI, and a Spanish-language version is available. Children are given a list and asked to recall the list after an interference task.
Age Range: 5–16 years
Delis DC, Kramer JH, Kaplan E, Ober BA. California Verbal Learning Test®-Children's Version, (CVLT®-C) San Antonio, TX Pearson Clinical; 1994 [cited 2015 2/24]. Available from:
Baker DA, Connery AK, Kirk JW, Kirkwood MW. Embedded performance validity indicators within the California Verbal Learning Test, Children's Version. Clin Neuropsychol. 2014;28(1):116-127.
Donders J, Minnema MT. Performance discrepancies on the California Verbal Learning Test-Children's Version (CVLT-C) in children with traumatic brain injury. J Intl Neuropsychol Society. 2004;10(4):482-488.
Donders J, Nesbit-Greene K. Predictors of neuropsychological test performance after pediatric traumatic brain injury. Assessment. 2004;11(4):275-284.
Donders J, Hoffman NM. Gender differences in learning and memory after pediatric traumatic brain injury. Neuropsychol. 2002;16(4):491-499.
Goodman AM, Delis DC, Mattson SN. Normative data for 4-year-old children on the California Verbal Learning Test-Children's Version. Clin Neuropsychologist. 1999;13(3):274-282.
Hoffman N, Donders J, Thompson EH. Novel learning abilities after traumatic head injury in children. Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2000;15(1):47-58.
McCauley SR, Wilde EA, Anderson VA, Bedell G, Beers SR, Campbell TF, Chapman SB, Ewing-Cobbs L, Gerring JP, Gioia GA, Levin HS, Michaud LJ, Prasad MR, Swaine BR, Turkstra LS, Wade SL, Yeates KO. Recommendations for the use of common outcome measures in pediatric traumatic brain injury research. J Neurotrauma. 2012;29(4):678-705.
MacNeill HA. Book and Test Reviews.Archives of Clinical Ncuropsychology. 1996;11(2):171-173.
Mottram L, Donders J. Cluster subtypes on the California verbal learning test-children's version after pediatric traumatic brain injury. Dev Neuropsychol. 2006;30(3):865-883.
Mottram L, Donders J. Construct validity of the California Verbal Learning Test--Children's Version (CVLT-C) after pediatric traumatic brain injury. Psychol Assess. 2005;17(2):212-217.
Roman MJ, Delis DC, Willerman L, Magulac M, Demadura TL, de la Pena JL, Loftis C, Walsh J, Kracun M. Impact of pediatric traumatic brain injury on components of verbal memory. J Clin Experimental Neuropsychol. 1998;20(2):245-258.
Rosselli M, Ardila A, Bateman JR, Guzman M. Neuropsychological test scores, academic performance, and developmental disorders in Spanish-speaking children. Dev Neuropsychol. 2001;20(1):355-373.
Salorio CF, Slomine BS, Grados MA, Vasa RA, Christensen JR, Gerring JP. Neuroanatomic correlates of CVLT-C performance following pediatric traumatic brain injury. J Intl Neuropsychol Society. 2005;11(6):686-696.
Strauss E, Sherman EMS, Spreen O. A compendium of neuropsychological tests: administration, norms, and commentary. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press; 2006.
Warschausky S, Kay JB, Chi P, Donders J. Hierarchical linear modeling of California Verbal Learning Test--Children's Version learning curve characteristics following childhood traumatic head injury. Neuropsychology. 2005;19(2):193-198.
White DA, Christ SE. Executive control of learning and memory in children with bilateral spastic cerebral palsy. J Intl Neuropsychol Society. 2005;11(7):920-924.
Yeates KO, Blumenstein E, Patterson CM, Delis DC. Verbal learning and memory following pediatric closed-head injury. J Intl Neuropsychol Society. 1995;1(1):78-87.


Document last updated July 2019
Recommended Instrument for
CP, Epilepsy, ME/CFS, MS, NMD, SMA, SRC, and TBI