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Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, she earned a bachelor of science in Education from Hofstra University in 1965; master's degree in Educational Psychology from Columbia University in 1972; Ed.M. in Learning and Reading Disabilities from Columbia University in 1975; and Ed.D. in Special Education—Neurosciences from Columbia University in 1978 (under Margaret Jo Shepherd).
Kaufman has taught learning-disabled children and worked as a school psychologist, learning disabilities specialist, university professor, and founder-director of several psychoeducational clinics. She also was a direct participant in the development and standardization of the McCarthy Scales and WISC-R.
She has been married to psychologist Alan S. Kaufman since 1964. From 1974 to 1997, Kaufman and her husband trained school psychologists and clinical psychologists, and supervised graduate-student research, at the University of Georgia, the National College of Education in Evanston, Illinois, the California School of Professional Psychology in San Diego, and the University of Alabama. The research team that they supervised while at the University of Georgia in 1978-79 developed the original 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.
In 1994 she 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.
In 2004/2005, revised versions of the Kaufmans' tests were published, including the KABC-II, KTEA-II, and KBIT-2. The KABC-II integrates both the PASS and CHC theories of intelligence.
Her son is psychologist 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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