Parents' Guide to IQ Testing and Gifted Education: All You Need to Know to Make the Right Decisions for Your Child

Parents' Guide to IQ Testing and Gifted Education: All You Need to Know to Make the Right Decisions for Your Child

by David Palmer

NOOK Book(eBook)

$10.49 $12.99 Save 19% Current price is $10.49, Original price is $12.99. You Save 19%.
View All Available Formats & Editions

Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
WANT A NOOK?  Explore Now
LEND ME® See Details


Parents of brainy kids can understand what’s behind IQ testing and selection for special school programs with this guide to gifted education. Written by an IQ specialist, this guide details the history of IQ tests and how they measure intelligence, and familiarizes parents with signs of giftedness they can look for in their own children. Acknowledging that some bright and gifted kids can reach their full potential in a regular classroom, a detailed analysis of how gifted programs work helps parents decide which gifted programs, if any, are right for their children. A section on twice-exceptional, or “2E” kids, shows parents how to recognize signs of learning disabilities in their otherwise bright or achieving kids and how to access school support for those particular problems.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780977109807
Publisher: Parent Guide Books
Publication date: 09/28/2006
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 232
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Dave Palmer, PhD, is an educational psychologist who has administered hundreds of IQ tests to children of all ages and abilities. He is a former assistant professor of education at California State University–Los Angeles. He lives in Lakewood, California.

Read an Excerpt

Parents' Guide to IQ Testing and Gifted Education

All You Need to Know to Make the Right Decisions for Your Child

By David Palmer

Parent Guide Books

Copyright © 2006 David Palmer
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-9771098-5-2


A Closer Look at IQ Tests

What They Measure and What the Scores Mean

Every day thousands of kids are being tested, sorted, and placed into special school programs based on a set of rules that many parents just don't understand. And why should they? Most parents don't have a background in testing and many aren't even aware that such programs exist. Their first exposure to these practices is usually when one of their own kids is in the system.

The key to helping your child get the most out of school is to understand how that system works. We'll start by looking at the basics of IQ testing - what these tests measure, how they are administered, and what the scores mean. IQ tests are often a major part of the selection criteria for school programs and these scores can be used to make important decisions about your child's education.

IQ and Intelligence

Some people think of the terms "IQ" and "intelligence" as interchangeable. But, that's not true. An IQ, or intelligence quotient, is just a number you get from taking an IQ test, while there is no real agreement on just how to define the term intelligence. The definition may change considerably from culture to culture, and even person to person, depending on who you ask or who you believe. So, if we can't agree on what constitutes intelligence, how can we measure it on an IQ test? We really can't.

What most do agree on is that IQ tests don't tap into all, or even most, areas of intelligence. In fact, critics argue that the skills that are measured are so narrow, so limited when compared to the broad range of human abilities and talents that are important for success and happiness in life, that IQ scores can give us a very restricted and misleading view of a person's true gifts and abilities. These tests are not designed to measure things like social skills, creativity, motivation, or self-esteem - all attributes which may be just as, or even more, important to your child's achievement and satisfaction than her IQ. So then, just what are IQ tests and what are they good for?

It is generally agreed that IQ tests do measure certain skills that are important to school learning, and that IQ scores are highly correlated to school achievement. In other words, children who do well on these tests tend to be those who get better grades in school. In that regard, IQ tests can probably best be viewed as predictors of school achievement.

What Do IQ Tests Measure?

While IQ tests measure certain skills that have been found to be strongly related to school achievement, each test publisher goes about measuring those skills in a different way, and may even measure quite different aspects of learning ability. The specific cognitive skills measured by each of these publishers may also change a bit every few years, as they periodically revise their tests to reflect current research and new ideas. To know exactly what learning skills (or cognitive domains) are measured by the most commonly used tests out there, you'd really need to pore over an up-to-date psychological assessment textbook. But for now, let's look at a few general areas that are commonly assessed on many IQ tests.

Verbal Skills

The ability to understand and use words, to understand verbally presented information and answer comprehension questions, and the capacity to analyze and solve puzzles or problems in which verbal skills are involved.

Types of IQ test activities that may be used to measure these skills include:

• Defining words

• Answering questions which deal with an understanding of everyday life or with school learning

• Comparing and contrasting verbally presented concepts or explaining abstract ideas

• Solving word problems

Visual (or Nonverbal or Perceptual ) Problem Solving

The ability to solve visually presented problems and puzzles, recognize visual patterns, and identify visual details.

Types of IQ test activities that may be used to measure these skills include:

• Putting puzzles together quickly and accurately

• Putting pictures in a certain order so they tell a story

• Assembling patterned blocks to match a model

• Choosing a picture from among several choices that completes a visual pattern or puzzle (Many internet IQ tests use this type of activity)


The ability to hold words, numbers, patterns, and symbols in the mind long enough to solve a problem or produce a response.

Types of IQ test activities that may be used to measure these skills include:

• Repeating back numbers, letters, or words spoken by the examiner

• Identifying specific details or events from a story that was read independently or read aloud by an examiner

• Placing colored beads or other objects on a table in a particular order after briefly viewing a model

• Remembering the sequence of objects or shapes briefly viewed in a picture or diagram.

Problem-Solving Speed

The ability to think and act quickly and to use available information to swiftly solve a problem.

Types of IQ test activities that may be used to measure these skills include:

• Copying symbols in a precise order within a certain time frame (The faster you go, the more points you get)

• Deciding whether two near-identical symbols are alike or different, within a certain time frame (Again, the faster you go, the more points you get)

Take a look at some of the skills measured on IQ tests and you can see why kids with higher IQ scores generally do better in school. Someone who has a good vocabulary and strong verbal skills should be able to apply those skills to lots of school-related tasks - like reading, understanding a social studies text book, or solving math word problems on a test. In the same way, a child who shows advanced visual problem-solving ability while putting together puzzles or figuring out visual patterns would likely be good at seeing patterns or relationships in areas such as math and science. And, of course, there's an obvious connection between memory and speed of problem solving and being able to perform well at school.

Two Types of Tests

There are two basic types of IQ tests - group tests and individually administered tests. Although both attempt to measure skills involved in school learning, there are some important differences in both format and content.

Group Tests

Group tests are meant to be given to a large group of children at one time. They are developed to be user friendly, and can be given by teachers or others not specifically trained in IQ test administration.

When administering a group test, the teacher passes out booklets to his students, makes sure everyone understands how to correctly mark the answers to the questions, and then, reading from a script, gives directions on how to complete each section. Depending on the type of test item and the age of the children, the teacher may read the instructions or questions out loud or the children may be asked to work independently. The teacher will also typically review sample problems in each section to be sure that everyone understands what they are to do before beginning.

Many group tests are completed in an hour or two, and can be administered in one or two sessions. Since these tests are standardized, the teacher cannot give any extra help to individual students who may need extra assistance. Rather, students may be given instructions like, "Do your best," or, "Choose the best answer and move on to the next problem" if they become stuck or frustrated.

Because group tests are designed to be administered quickly and measure only a limited set of cognitive skills, they are not considered to be as reliable or as accurate as individually administered tests. Due to these limitations, group tests are often thought of as screening assessments and many districts use them primarily to select students for further testing with an individually administered IQ test.

Individually Administered Tests

Individually administered tests are given in a one-on-one setting. Some common versions of these tests for school-age kids are the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (or WISC - pronounced "Wisk"), the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, and the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children.

* * *

In contrast to group IQ tests, individually administered IQ tests:

• May take longer to administer and score

• Must be given only by a qualified examiner such as a school psychologist or a clinical psychologist

• Measure a wider range of skills - typically including more specific aspects of verbal and nonverbal reasoning, tasks involving motor skills, and tasks involving speed of problem solving

Because they measure a broader range of abilities and are administered by trained examiners, individually administered IQ tests are considered to be more reliable than group tests. For this reason, many districts base educational decisions - like placement in a gifted education program or eligibility for special education services - on these scores. We'll focus on the individually administered IQ test in the rest of this chapter.

What's It Like to Take an Individually Administered IQ Test?

IQ tests are standardized tests. They have been developed so that one child's score can be easily compared to another's. But for this comparison to be valid examiners must be sure to give the test in a standard way - they must use the same testing procedures for each child. For example, the same directions must be given, the same time limits must apply, and the same scoring criteria must be used. It wouldn't make sense to give one child extra time to complete a test item, or to give him hints or added encouragement, and then compare that child's score with another's who wasn't given such advantages.

While specific directions and standard administration procedures will differ a bit from test to test, there is a common set of general guidelines, a familiar flow, to all individually administered IQ tests.

• Before the examiner starts testing, he will spend some time building rapport - making small talk and checking to be sure that the child is comfortable and does not appear ill or overly anxious. This is an important part of the standardized test procedure and experienced examiners should be experts at making children feel at ease.

• Individually administered IQ tests are made up of several smaller subtests. Children in certain age groups are generally given the same subtests in the same order. The examiner will determine the sequence of subtests to give a child by determining his age and maybe by giving him a brief placement or routing test.

• Items on each subtest are presented in order of increasing difficulty. The examiner will determine by the child's age, or through the routing test, the item to begin with on each subtest - this is often called the starting point. Subtests are designed so that children start with items that they can pass easily, to give them a feeling of success.

• The examiner will be sure that the child understands what he is to do on each subtest before beginning. Most sub-tests require the examiner to give sample items so that the child has an opportunity to practice whatever the task requires before moving on to the actual test items. These sample items are generally not scored.

• The examiner will move through the subtests in the sequence dictated by the test manual for the child's age level or ability level. While administering the test, the examiner will be scoring the child's responses. Examiners are trained to do this in such a way as not to call attention to the scoring procedure - so as not to give the child any feedback regarding whether their responses are correct or not.

• The examiner will stop testing on most subtests when the child has made a certain number of errors. The subtests are designed this way so that children do not become frustrated or discouraged by being given test items that would be too difficult for their age or ability level. The test item where the examiner stops is usually called the ceiling item or stopping point.

• Some of the subtests - usually those that involve having the child do something like put puzzles together or write things down rather than just answer questions - may be timed and scored based on the quickness of the response. The examiner will use a stopwatch or maybe a wristwatch to do this, being careful to be as unobtrusive as possible so that the child doesn't feel pressured or distracted. In my experience, most children do not even realize they are being timed.

• The examiner will do his best to continue to make the child feel comfortable throughout the IQ test, putting him at ease by making informal conversation or encouraging comments.

• Most individually administered IQ tests take about an hour and a half to administer. When the test is over, the examiner will praise the child for his effort and participation, continuing to make him feel at ease and assured.

And that's it. Most kids actually seem to enjoy being tested. They probably like the individual attention they get, and the chance to get out of class for a while.

Three Types of IQ Scores

The purpose of giving an IQ test in the schools is to get a score, or set of scores, that can be used to predict a child's learning ability and make educational placement decisions. Let's take a look at the three different types of scores that you'll need to know about when interpreting IQ tests.

Subtest Scores

As you've read, individually administered IQ tests are made up of several smaller tests called subtests. Each of these subtests involves a different type of activity and measures a particular area of ability. For example, a subtest that measures attention and memory skills may require the child to listen to and repeat back numbers spoken by the examiner. Another subtest measuring visual problem solving skills might involve the child putting blocks together to match a design shown in a picture. Usually around ten or so of these individual subtests are administered during an IQ test, with each taking about ten minutes to give.

Psychologists often don't report subtest scores to parents because they are not as reliable as other IQ scores, which are obtained by combining subtest scores. It's like averaging grades. Your child might get one poor grade on a spelling test but this doesn't necessarily mean he's a bad speller. If you average several of his spelling grades, however, you get a better picture of his true spelling abilities.

Subscale Scores

A subscale score gives you information about a child's performance in a certain skill area - or cognitive domain. To arrive at subscale scores (sometimes called process scores, factor index scores, composite scores, or some other such name) two or more subtest scores are combined, based on what is being measured. For example, if three of ten subtests given during an IQ test deal largely with short-term memory skills, then the scores from these subtests may be combined into a "Short-Term Memory Subscale" score. Other subtests might be grouped into subscales that measure areas like verbal reasoning skills, visual reasoning skills, or speed of problem solving. Most individually administered IQ tests are designed to measure around four to seven subscales areas.

* * *

Subscale scores can tell you a lot about your child's relative strengths and weaknesses. While some students do about equally well on all subscale areas, many show some pretty large differences. A child with a strong verbal reasoning subscale score and a relatively low visual (perceptual) reasoning subscale score, for instance, may learn more efficiently through lectures or just sitting down with a book, rather than through diagrams, charts, or mentally picturing an idea. A child with a relatively low score on a subscale dealing with memory may need more repetition before basic skills are mastered. A child with a relatively low score on a subscale involving processing speed (the ability to think and act quickly) may be a perfectionist who works more slowly than others because of a tendency to check her work for accuracy before moving on.

Remember that each IQ test is organized differently, and that subscale results may be interpreted differently from test to test. Ask your child's examiner to help you review and interpret the subscale scores provided on the particular test used for your child. And remember to combine your own observations and instincts with any test scores you're reviewing when considering your child's learning needs.

Full Scale Score

The full-scale (or composite) score is what most people probably think of when they hear the term "IQ." Unlike subscale scores, which reflect a child's performance in particular skill areas, the full-scale score reflects the child's overall performance - taking into account the diverse mix of mental abilities sampled on all the subtests.

Some districts only consider the full-scale IQ score when making gifted education placement decisions. However, it is widely recognized that there are subtypes of gifted learners that include the verbally gifted and those gifted in perceptual reasoning ability. For this reason most nationally recognized outside programs serving gifted kids, and many or most school districts will also consider IQ subscale scores measuring verbal or perceptual reasoning skills in place of the full-scale score.


Excerpted from Parents' Guide to IQ Testing and Gifted Education by David Palmer. Copyright © 2006 David Palmer. Excerpted by permission of Parent Guide Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Introduction: What's In This Book?,
PART ONE: IQ Testing and Gifted Education,
CHAPTER ONE: A Closer Look at IQ Tests. What They Measure and What the Scores Mean,
CHAPTER TWO: Identifying Gifted Students. Who Gets Tested and Why,
CHAPTER THREE: What is Gifted Education? And is it Right for My Child?,
CHAPTER FOUR: IQ Testing and Gifted Education. Answers to the Questions Parents Ask Most,
PART TWO: Giftedness and Kids,
CHAPTER FIVE: Signs of Giftedness. What to Look For and Why You Should Know,
CHAPTER SIX: Is it Good to be Gifted? Optimal IQ and the Flipside to Being Gifted,
PART THREE: IQ Testing and Learning Disabilities,
CHAPTER SEVEN: Bright Kids with Learning Problems. When IQ and Achievement Don't Match Up,
PART FOUR: IQ Testing and Intelligence. Background and Basics,
CHAPTER EIGHT: IQ Testing in the Schools. How Did It Start?,
CHAPTER NINE: What is Intelligence? And Can It Really Be Measured?,
CHAPTER TEN: Nature, Nurture, and Other Influences. Why We Are Who We Are,

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews