About Dr. Woodcock

Richard W. Woodcock, Ed.D. 1928 - 2024

Dr. Richard W. Woodcock

Dr. Richard W. Woodcock was one of the most prolific and influential figures in the field of applied psychological assessment. He was born on January 29, 1928 in Portland, Oregon. He was 95 years old and died at his residence in San Diego, California. Dr. Woodcock is survived by three of his four children, two grandchildren, a half-sister, and his daughter’s stepfamily. He is preceded in death by one child. His mother was a homemaker and his father built and ran sawmills. After briefly serving in the Navy he worked for his father in the sawmill and he quickly decided that maybe going to college was a more desirable career path. He obtained his bachelor’s in science degree in Psychology from the Southern Oregon University (Ashland) in 1949. In an undergraduate psychology class his professor assigned the students to go to the library and write an abstract on an assessment measure. Dr. Woodcock found a 1939 book by David Wechsler on the Wechsler Bellevue Scale. After administering as many of the tests that he could without the stimulus materials to his father, Dr. Woodcock’s interest in psychological assessment was established. Subsequently his professor talked him into working at the Veterans Testing Bureau.

Educational/Employment Career

After obtaining his bachelor’s degree, Dr. Woodcock went back in the Navy and learned to fly jets. When released from the Navy, the GI bill helped him further his graduate education. Dr. Woodcock worked in the classroom as a elementary teacher for one year. He then obtained a M.Ed. in special education from the University of Oregon in 1953 and worked several years as a Director of Special Education. Dr Woodcock obtained his Ed.D. in 1956 from the University of Oregon with a double major in statistics and psychoeducation. His dissertation title was “Construction and evaluation of a test for predicting success in remedial reading” which was the forerunner to the Visual-Auditory Learning test which is still included in several of the WJ test batteries.

Dr. Woodcock was an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Western Oregon University (WOU, Monmouth, 1957-61). While at WOU he became the Director of the Reading Clinic and became interested in working with the visually impaired and the braille language. His career in academia took him to the University of Northern Colorado as an Associate Professor of Special Education (1961-63). While at the UNC, he received a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education to develop a battery of braille skills test, a first of its kind, entitled the Colorado Battery of Braille Skill Test / Colorado Braille Battery.

His career in academia took him to George Peabody College for Teachers (Vanderbilt University) between 1963-68. He worked as an Associate Professor of Special Education and he took several leadership roles as the Senior Scientist for the Institute on Mental Retardation and Intellectual Development (1964-68) and later Acting Director (1966-67); and as the Director of the Research Group on Sensori-Motor Disorders and Adaptive Behavior (1965-66). His grant funded research during this period focused on alternative methods to teach reading to intellectually disabled individuals using rebuses. He also received funding from the National Institute of Health to build the first electric brailling machine, which automatically translated typed English in Braille. Dr. Woodcock developed the Analysis-Synthesis test and the Rebus  Reading Series while working at Peabody.

Dr. Woodcock left Peabody College in 1968 to become editor and director of research for the American Guidance Service, Inc. (1968-72). While at AGS, the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test, the Goldman-Fristoe-Woodcock Test of Auditory Discrimination, and the Key Math were developed. From 1970 to 1974 he was adjunct professor of special education at the University of Minnesota; vice-chair, board of governors, National Forum Foundation for American Education (1971-73); and since 1972 to present has been director of Measurement/Learning/Consultants.

In 1974-75 he completed a postdoctoral fellowship in neuropsychology at Tufts University School of Medicine. It was during his year at Tufts that he conceived the idea for a comprehensive test battery, which was published in 1977 as the Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery (WJPEB). The WJPEB was the first test which had co-normed tests of cognitive abilities and academic achievement and was normed across the full age range of children through adults. The Woodcock-Johnson tests of cognitive abilities and achievement became one of the most widely used instruments since the 1970s and was revised and updated several times.

Dr. Woodcock was a visiting scholar/professor in special education and rehabilitation at the University of Arizona (1985-88) and a Research Professor in Psychology at the University of Southern California (1988-92). He was research professor of psychology at the University of Virginia (1993-1998). Most recently he was appointed as a visiting senior researcher in the Psychology and Philosophy Department at Texas Woman’s University (2015-2023).

In 1972, Dr. Woodcock created his own company, called Measurement/Learning/Consultants which developed several versions of the WJ. Dr. Woodcock was the senior author on numerous tests from the late 1970s to the early 2010s, including but not limited to: Woodcock Language Proficiency Battery - English and Spanish editions, Spanish versions of each revision of the WJ tests, Scales of Independent Behavior – English and Spanish editions, Woodcock-Muñoz Language Survey – English and Spanish edition, Batería editions of the WJ, Woodcock Diagnostic Reading Battery, Mather-Woodcock Group Writing Tests, Dean-Woodcock Sensory Motor Battery, Bilingual Verbal Ability Tests, and the Woodcock-Camarata Articulation Battery.

Awards and Honors

Dr. Woodcock received the 1993 Senior Scientist Award of the American Psychological Association, Division 16, in recognition of a career of scientific contributions to school psychology. In 2006, he received an honorary doctorate from Western Oregon University. In 2008, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Board of School Neuropsychology. In 2010, the Texas Statewide Evaluation Project Conference honored Dr. Woodcock with is first Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2013, the Richard Woodcock Education Center building was dedicated at Western Oregon University. In 2015, the Woodcock Institute for the Advancement for Neurocognitive Research and Applied Practice was established at Texas Woman’s University. In 2017, the Human Development Building on the Texas Woman’s University’s Denton campus was renamed Woodcock Hall, in honor of Dr. Woodcock lifetime of achievements.

Oral History Video Interview of Dr. Woodcock (40 minutes in length)

On December 3, 2015, Dr. Richard W. Woodcock was interviewed by Dr. Daniel C. Miller. The purpose of the interview was to obtain an oral history of Dr. Woodcock’s life and major contributions to the professions of psychology, school psychology, and education.

Graduate programs in school psychology are urged to share this video with future school psychologists as part of their professional issues class or their cognitive assessment class.

Page last updated 9:59 AM, January 3, 2024