Ayllon, T., & Kelly, K. (1972). Effects of reinforcement on standardized test performance . Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis , 5 (4), 477–484. https://doi.org/10.1901/jaba.1972.5-477

Journal Article

Ayllon, T., & Kelly, K. (1972). Effects of reinforcement on standardized test performance. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 5(4), 477–484. https://doi.org/10.1901/jaba.1972.5-477


Elementary; Intellectual disabilities; No disability; Readiness test; Reinforcement



Study One: Students completed the test under two conditions: 1) standard and 2) after each completed subtest, students received a token for each correct response.
Study Two: Students were randomly assigned to either an experimental condition of receiving token reinforcement during instruction or a standard condition involving typical instructional procedures. Instructional programming lasted for six weeks. Students were then tested again under the two conditions used in the first study.


Study One: Twelve students with intellectual disabilities, and thirty fourth-graders without disabilities from an urban school district were included in the first study. Study Two: Two groups of twelve students with intellectual disabilities matched on age, IQ, and mid-year test score on the Metropolitan Readiness Test participated.

Dependent Variable

Study One: Students with intellectual disabilities were administered the Metropolitan Readiness Test, and students without disabilities were administered the Metropolitan Achievement Test, Elementary Battery. Study Two: The two groups of students both took the Metropolitan Readiness Test at the end of the six-week instructional period.


Study One: Students with and without intellectual disabilities both benefited to a similar degree from token reinforcement. Study Two: Students with the six-week history of token reinforcement scored significantly higher on the portion of the test administered under standard conditions than the group in the regular instructional program. Both groups of students' scores increased significantly under the token-reinforcement testing condition. No background instruction by testing condition interaction was found.