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Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, Kaufman earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1965; M.A. in Educational Psychology from Columbia University in 1967; and Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1970 (under Robert L. Thorndike), specializing in psychometrics.
He has been married to psychologist Nadeen L. Kaufman since 1964. While Assistant Director at The Psychological Corporation from 1968 to 1974, he worked closely with David Wechsler on the revision of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) and supervised the standardization of the revised version (WISC-R). He also collaborated with Dorothea McCarthy in the development and standardization of the McCarthy Scales of Children’s Abilities. He held positions at University of Georgia (1974–1979) and University of Alabama (1984–1995) before taking a position at Yale University.
The research team that Kaufman and his wife supervised while at the University of Georgia in 1978-79 developed the original Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (K-ABC) and several other psychological and educational tests, including the Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement (K-TEA/NU), Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (K-BIT), and the second editions of both ( KTEA-II and KBIT-2). The Kaufman Survey of Early Academic and Language Skills (K-SEALS) and the Cognitive/Language Profile of the Early Screening Profiles address the preschool level. The Kaufman Adolescent and Adult Intelligence Test (KAIT), the Kaufman Short Neuropsychological Assessment Procedure (K-SNAP), and the Kaufman Functional Academic Skills Test (K-FAST) extend through the adult life span.  Widely regarded as a teacher and mentor, as well as a researcher, Kaufman's cadre of doctoral students at the University of Georgia has gone on to become a significant influence in the field as well. Kaufman mentored, among others, Cecil R. Reynolds, Randy W. Kamphaus, Bruce Bracken, Steve McCallum, Jack A. Naglieri, and Patti Harrison, all of whom became Professors at major universities and authors of some of the most widely used psychological tests in the United States.
In 1994 he was one of 52 signatories on "Mainstream Science on Intelligence," an editorial written by Linda Gottfredson and published in the Wall Street Journal, which defended the findings on race and intelligence in The Bell Curve. 
Both have been at Yale University's Child Study Center in the School of Medicine since 1997.
His son is a professor and researcher in psychology (creativity): James C. Kaufman.
- Dr. Alan S. Kaufman and Dr. Nadeen L. Kaufman biography via AGS Publishing
- Dr. Alan S. Kaufman and Dr. Nadeen L. Kaufman profiles via McGraw-Hill
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