The RAIS and the Woodcock Johnson Tests
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
Is the RAIS an appropriate test to use when assessing for
giftedness? If so, what cut-off score would constitute
giftedness, or superior IQ, for a child with DOB, 12-31-98?
I was informed that this score is 128. Also, if not, what
test(s) are known to be most sensitive in assessing
Further, how is it possible that a child, grade 5, could
obtain achievement scores in reading and math subtests post
12th - 15th grade on the Woodcock Johnson, but only score in
the above average range, 117, on the RAIS? By comparing the
performance on both tests, it appears that this child is
achieving beyond his ability/potential which impossible. How
may this discrepancy be explained?
Thank you for your insight.
A: I would firstly give a brief
background of the two tests.
The Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scales (RAIS),
considered as a newcomer in the world of intelligence
testing, appears to be the shortest full-intelligence test
compared to other intelligence assessment. It takes only
about 35 minutes to administer. In contrast to most existing
measures of intelligence, the RAIS eliminates dependence on
motor coordination, visual-motor speed, and reading skills.
The RAIS is divided into four sections: verbal intelligence
index (VIX), a nonverbal intelligence index (NIX), a
composite intelligence index (CIX) and a composite memory
index (CMX). It can be administered to children as young as
three up to 94 years. In this test, the subsets work
together to create an overall score. Verbal intelligence is
assessed with tasks involving. Non-verbal intelligence is
assessed by visual and spatial ability tasks. In short, the
verbal and nonverbal sections test the individual's
knowledge of vocabulary as well as understanding of language
for problem solving. Concurrently, the CIX and CMX test
one's ability to create scenarios and also to remember
facts, concepts and pieces of information that are
subsequently used to solve problems.
The Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ III) consists of two distinct,
co-normed batteries, that is the WJ III Tests of Achievement
(WJ III ACH) and the WJ III Tests of Cognitive Abilities (WJ
III COG). Both batteries are appropriate for ages 2 to 90
plus and together they provide a comprehensive system for
measuring general intellectual ability (g), specific
cognitive abilities, scholastic aptitude, oral language, and
Studies have indicated that the RAIS composite intelligence
index (CIX) and verbal intelligence index (VIX) scores have
moderate-to-high correlation with comparable scores on other
instruments. RAIS describes the VIX scale as a measure of
crystallized ability (related more closely to verbal domains
as a practical matter and is defined as the application of
knowledge to problem solving) and the nonverbal index (NIX)
as a measure of fluid ability (related more closely to
nonverbal domains as a practical matter and is defined more
strictly as reasoning and problem solving in the absence of
any requirement for prior knowledge).
Many research findings have indicated moderate-to-high
correlations between the CIX and VIX scores and
corresponding scores on the WJ-III. Some studies noted a
substantially lower correlation between the NIX and WJ-III
fluid ability scores. The RAIS is a standardized test and
have gained popularity over the years, probably due to the
shorter time requirement compared to other tests. The
reliability of this test is rather when compared to tests
such as the WISC. However, research have also indicated that
the RAIS scores tend to be a little higher than the scores
from a WISC test.
Hence, a score of above 125-130 for most intelligence tests
would allow for admission in the gifted program. The average
score for intelligence tests is 100, so above that would
place an individual at the above average range; however for
gifted programs the range is higher. It is not possible to
compare two tests per se so test scores among the various IQ
tests are not always interchangeable. Different tests may
test different sets of cognitive ability and the focus may
vary as well. However, the difference is usually not a vast
one based on the test alone. Furthermore, it is not
indicated which battery of the WJ test was used –
achievement or cognitive. I assumed you used the achievement
scale since you indicated achievement scores. There are
three oral tests here, a diagnostic spelling test and a
measure of phonological awareness have been added to
evaluate fluency in reading and in math.
The other WJ III battery, (the cognitive test) is designed
to measure general and specific cognitive functions. When
these two batteries are administered together, they allow
the tester to investigate over or underachievement. They
also examine patterns of intra-individual discrepancies
among cognitive or achievement areas. If you had used both
the tests, there may be answers for the discrepancies. This
calls for detailing in the scores. If similar weak/strength
areas are found on both tests, then the tests do determine
the child's range of strengths/weaknesses. You may want to
speak to the tester regarding this for further
interpretation especially since he is born on the last day
of the year (tests are scored based on chronological age).
If you are still quite unsatisfied, perhaps the WISC could
be helpful in illustrating his strengths and weaknesses.
Knowledge on his strengths and weaknesses can be very
helpful in understanding they type of learner that he may be
(e.g., whether he is a visual-spatial or auditory-sequential
learner) and how he learns best.
For now, focus on his strengths and work on his weak areas
rather than focusing too much on the test scores. All the
best to you!