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Lower than Expected Score on KBIT-2

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: I had my son screened for giftedness last week. He is 6 years old and graduating Kindergarten. We have known since he was not even 2 that he was a very bright child. He was doing puzzles at 18m and doing 100 piece puzzles at 4.5yo. He was in preschool reading while the others were learning the alphabet. Last year at the end of pre-school the teachers told me that we could skip kindergarten and put him in 1st grade. He loves animals and dinosaurs, can tell you what type, the long names of ones I have never heard of, if they are herbivores or carnivores, etc.

He is great at adding in his head large numbers and started multiplication. He knows the continents and countries and where exotic animals come from, etc. He has what I call a photographic memory. He just amazes us. This year in Kindergarten seemed to be a waste because he was bored and knew what they were teaching already. That was our concern this year was that he would get in trouble and not learn much. His teacher finally gave him the 4th grade dolce words because he can read and spell all of their site words, she didn't know what else to do with him. He has been reading chapter books all year long, while most kids were learning how to read Cat and Hat.

He says he's dehydrated instead of I'm thirsty. He draws creative animal pictures and just loves learning things. We take him to the zoo and he reads all of the captions. He knows all of the planets and the orders the are in and which planets are made out of what materials. I mean just loves to learn this stuff. We don't know what to do with him. So we finally got him tested (KBIT-2) and we were shocked. His scores were so low. Now mind you, I don't know how the tests are given or scores but the teacher had never done this before so I don't know if that even matters. But his score was a 110??? We had friends that are not as bright as him score much higher. It's so weird and we don't know what to make of it. I just copied the list on this website of characteristics of gifted and I know he fits most of these categories. Now that the school year is over and he was tested, does he have to wait a whole year to be tested again?

What do we or can we do? I know he's above average at most things and we just don't want him to lose interest in school from being bored.

A: Briefly, The Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test, Second Edition (K-BIT 2) is used to measure verbal and nonverbal cognitive ability. It is used to obtain a quick estimate of intelligence, estimate an individual's verbal versus nonverbal intelligence and/or to screen to identify students who may benefit from enrichment or gifted programs. Additionally, this test is also able to identify high-risk children through large-scale screening who may require a more comprehensive evaluation. This test is developed by leading cognitive ability experts, therefore, it is assumed that this test provides highly valid, reliable results and is useful for a broad range of purposes.

Based on a mean of 100 and standard deviation of 15, your son's overall score is a little above average (about 85-115 should be within the average range on a bell curve). This means an overall score of 110 places him in the top 15% of performances (though it may not be enough for a gifted program admission). You may need to get the school to discuss the scores with you to find out areas that needs enrichment to make a more informed decision on catering for his learning needs. If the school decided that the scores do not meet the criteria for a gifted program, they may have their reasons for doing so which they should explain to you. Most schools have multiple criteria for admission into the gifted program and IQ scores are usually well above average for students to benefit most from such programs.

There is no detailed breakdown of the result, hence a little hard to tell what brought the scores down. In the first section of this test, a child is tested on receptive knowledge so a child who is exposed to a lot of verbal communication throughout their growth years would tend to score high. The next sections are riddles and yet another section would be matrices. For matrices, a child is required to look at patterns and pick matching patterns. Apparently this test itself is a good indicator of ability regardless of lingual ability. In brief, the KBIT-2 consists of an IQ composite score with two subtests that is Vocabulary (verbal, crystallised) and Matrices (nonverbal, fluid). Each of the item is scored 1 point for a right answer or 0 points for an incorrect answer. Do take note that the KBIT-2 samples only limited areas of cognitive functioning and does not measure processing speed or working memory constructs.

It is naturally frustrating when you expected better scores based on the demonstrated abilities of your son which is indeed quite advanced compared to his peers. There may be several reasons for this score (which is in fact not low at all, just that you expected much better). If your son might have been anxious, this could affect the scores. Younger kids tend to pay less attention and if they find the activity less than stimulating, they may hurry to complete it. The experience of the tester is also crucial. An experienced tester would be able to probe much more than just list answers from the child. You mentioned that the teacher has never done this before; this may have skewed the results. A retest by an experienced tester may work in your son's favour but you may need to wait a year.

In the mean time, discuss his results with the school and see what can be done to help his learning. Suggest that if they find him advanced (teachers should be able to tell), test him on subject matter and plan an individualised programme for him if possible (curriculum compacting, pull-out programme, etc). At home, monitor his progress and expose him to stimulating materials and gauge his level and gradually increase the challenges.

Most importantly, do check what options the school has for him. Working with his teachers would help him positively. Good luck!

Reply from the parent: I want to thank you for taking the time out to respond to me. Our son (6 years old, just entered 1st grade) is in a new school this year, public, and his teacher on the 2nd week of school suggested him being screened. They did not know he was screened a few months ago at the old school by someone unqualified.

His scores came out how we originally thought they should have. The teacher, who proctored the KBIT II for him back in May that had no experience and admitted that she didn't know what she was doing, gave his scores as a 110, and that he was lower extreme and below average. Well the guidance counselor who has experience screened him last week and his score were verbal 136, non-verbal 152, for an overall of 149. That seems more like my son. They will be giving him an IQ test with in the next month to see if he will enter the gifted program.

Thank you again for you time. We knew right away something was not right, and we were right!
 


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