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Intelligent or Gifted based on KBIT-2 scores

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My son who is almost 12 and 6th grade was tested by his school using the KBIT 2. His scores were:

Verbal - 120 - above average
Non-verbal - 131- Upper Extreme
Composite - 129 - above average

Not sure what it all means? I think the cut-off in the state for gifted is 130. What the score mean? Does he is just normal intelligent and not gifted? Thanks.

A: 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 and also identifying high-risk children through large-scale screening who may require a more comprehensive evaluation. It is also used for estimating cognitive functioning of children referred for assessment of specific learning disabilities. In short, it serves the purpose to provide a relatively quick and accurate estimate of abilities; and to identify students who may benefit from special programs.

In this test, the Verbal component deals with vocabulary subtest and nonverbal tests Matrices subtest intelligence. The Verbal portion of the test is made up of two subtests, Verbal Knowledge and Riddles. These measure verbal, school related skills by measuring an individual's word knowledge, verbal concept formation, reasoning ability and range of general information. The Non Verbal portion is made up of the Matrices subtest and measures the ability to solve new problems by assessing ability to perceive relationships and complete visual analogies.

The Composite IQ or Overall IQ score (also known as Full Scale IQ score in some tests) is based on the verbal and nonverbal subtests of the test. This is frequently the number most people refer to when discussing someone's IQ. Experts who develop intelligence tests use mathematical calculations to find the mean or average score. An IQ score from 90 to 110 is generally considered in the average range, corresponding to roughly 50 per cent of the population. The higher the IQ score, the lesser the percentage. For example, high scores of say 130 would only see about 2-3 per cent of the population, just as would a score of 70 on the other extreme.

Based on a mean of 100 and standard deviation of 15, your son's overall IQ is in the Well above average range (129) for the K-BIT-2. His Verbal score is in the Well above average range (120); while his Nonverbal score is in the Upper extreme range (131). In fact it appears that his verbal scores brought down the overall scores.

The Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (K-BIT) by definition is a “brief” intelligence test, also known as a test used for "screening" children. This means, the K-BIT2 test is just a few subtests of their KTEA (full version). Therefore, if those subtests are not the child's strongest areas, then the score could be dramatically different from the same child's score on the comparable “full” assessment. Having said that, test designers do select suitable subtests to include in a brief scale. This is not done randomly, rather using good research background.

Your son is actually at the borderline score for admission into gifted programmes. However, I believe he may be able to get into the programme on a case-by-case basis. His non verbal skills are superior. Do speak to the school to see if he may be suited in a more challenging programme to match his abilities or an advanced programme specifically to enhance his non verbal skills. Alternatively, if you want to have a more detailed analysis of his strengths and weaknesses, try to comprehensive IQ tests (e.g., WISC or SB). Good luck!


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