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Difference in Range between KBIT-2 and WIAT II Tests

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My son is five and had a psych evaluation at his school. His cognitive testing was significantly lower than his academic assessment. I understand that the tests are measuring different things. Why would there be such a difference in ranges on the two tests?

standard scores:
IQ Composite 101 53%ile
Verbal Scale 109 73%ile
Nonverbal Scale 92 30%ile

Word Reading 128 97%ile
Numerical Operations 117 87%ile
Spelling 126 96%ile

A: I will provide a brief overview of the two tests. Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test -2nd Edition (KBIT–2) is used to measure both verbal and non-verbal ability rather quickly and cost-effectively. The nonverbal test is ideal for non-readers, the hearing impaired, and learning disabled. As a quick guide to intelligence, this test appears to correlate positively with the Weschler's test. However, since this is a brief estimator, a standardized comprehensive test may be required for detailed results and analysis. The KBIT-2 yields three scores: Verbal, Nonverbal, and the IQ Composite. The Verbal score comprises two subtests (Verbal Knowledge and Riddles) and measures verbal, school-related skills by assessing a person's word knowledge, range of general information, verbal concept formation, and reasoning ability. The Nonverbal score (the Matrices subtest) measures the ability to perceive relationships and complete visual analogies. All Matrices items involve pictures or abstract designs rather than words.

The Wechsler Individual Achievement Test -2nd Edition (WIAT II) presents one item at a time without time limits, except for the Written Expression subtest. It offers standard scores, percentile ranks, stanines, and other scores, based either on the student's age or grade, which is compared to a nationwide sample of students.

The KBIT-2 is an intelligence test. Other intelligence test are such as the Wechsler series, Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ III) - Tests of Cognitive Abilities, the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales etc. The WIAT II is an achievement test. Other achievement tests are such as Nelson-Denny Reading Test, Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Stanford Test of Academic Skills, Wide Range Achievement Test, 3rd Edition (WRAT-III), Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery, etc.

As you are aware of, both tests measure different areas of human skills.

Intelligence tests attempt to measure one's intelligence which is the basic ability to understand the world around us, assimilate its functioning, and apply this knowledge to enhance the quality of our life. It is predominantly a measure of a potential (not a measure of what we may have learnt in school, as in an achievement test). Because of this, it is supposed to be culture-free.

Achievement tests, on the other hand are general assessments given to individuals in order to measure their comprehension of acquired skills and content. These tests attempt to measure either how much one knows about a certain topic (which is our achieved knowledge or how much of a capacity we may have (which is our aptitude) to master material in a particular area. These tests are used to place students in appropriate level courses, and help students get additional help if they need it

These tests may also be used to identify a learning disability. If a student's score on the intelligence test is at least two standard deviations (30 points) higher than his/her scores on an achievement test, the student is described as having a significant discrepancy between IQ and achievement and, therefore, as having a learning disability. You would need to see the overall scores to determine if this is the case.

Both the test results should not be compared, rather should be looked into in detail and analysed. Your son appears to be able to grasp school learning well. The fact that he scored lower on the intelligence test calls for some attention. You may want to show the detailed results to the school psychologist to find out if your concern is legitimate. Best wishes to you.


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