IQ tests measure a broad range of problem solving skills that are fairly predictive of academic performance and job performance. They also predict health and income pretty well. IQ tests are intrinsically incomplete. They do not measure character, creativity, motivation, grace, sense of humor, curiosity or ability to love. IQ is what it is, one tool which is helpful in understanding a child.
Each assessment is a snapshot in time. It gives a sense of how the child is performing at particular stage of his or her development. What we see is a sample of demonstrated abilities. IQ scores are always estimates of ability; we can usually say more definitively that we are 90% or 95% certain that the true IQ is within a certain range.
If you picture the bell curve, it makes more sense. As you travel to the right making your 15 point marks (for each standard deviation) for WISC-IV scores, you can see you are slicing a smaller and smaller part of the population as you move into the realm of gifted. We are asking a test to make fine distinctions with a relatively blunt tool. The Stanford Binet LM claims to make finer distinctions at the high end, but because of the Flynn effect, most children will have a higher score on the LM than on the WISC-IV.
The quality of the answers is part of the evaluation process, along with speed, diversity of ability, knowledge, perception of nuances in words and ideas, and ability to perceive patterns and overarching concepts. This is often one of the ways you can spot gifted unmotivated or 2E kids.
The WISC-IV has been criticized because the scores are lower, but use the “GAI” and it will factor out the motor component. Most HG and PG kids tend to have motor skills which are at age level with exception abstract thinking skills. The WISC-IV also added more questions at the high end of the test to better identify gifted children.
Rapport is important; It is standard among all of the psychologists who regularly test HG and PG kids, to start the subtests above their chronological age. It keeps the testing from being tedious or seen as patronizing.
This article is provided as a service of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to supporting profoundly gifted young people 18 and under. To learn more about the Davidson Institute’s programs, please visit www.DavidsonGifted.org.
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