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Reason for Using the WISC

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: My son is 8 years old. The school he attends currently want us to have him tested by an Educational Psychologist. They specifically want him to be WISC tested, the school and myself believe that he is dyslexic. Which he has been tested for and we are awaiting the results.

My concern is that the schools eagerness to have this WISC test done. All the reports, meeting etc we have had with the school have all express that he is well below average in English, average in Maths. According to the school he is overall below average.

Having researched the WISC test, it would appear it is for gifted children?
I can't see the advantage of having the WISC test done as it would just show yet again he is below average.

So my question really is: What would the advantages/disadvantages of going ahead with the Educational Psychologist assessment in specifically the WISC test.

A: Like other intelligence tests the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) is designed to measure skills and abilities, rather than grade-level subject knowledge. This is not only for gifted children - it is a general measure of a child's cognitive abilities. It is not only an intelligence test but also a clinical tool.

During the development of the WISC, the samples included the following groups of individuals: children identified as gifted, children with mild or moderate mental retardation, children with learning disorders (reading, reading/writing, math, reading/writing/math), children with ADHD, children with expressive and mixed receptive-expressive language disorders children with autistic disorder, children with Asperger's syndrome, children with open or closed head injury, and children with motor impairment. In fact, the WISC-IV is also validated with measures of achievement, memory, adaptive behaviour, emotional intelligence, and giftedness. As you can see it not only screens the gi8fted but the results may also diagnose other learning concerns at a glance. It may not be very effective in diagnosing children with ADHD or learning disabilities per se but there may be some indication of these conditions based on the scores.

In your case the WISC may be required to assess your son's cognitive development, based on his chronological age. Extreme scores may suggest contributing factors for adjustment difficulties in social contexts that present problems in accepting such developmental diversity. The detailed score would expose areas of strengths and weaknesses which would help the school plan for proper intervention. There does not appear to be a disadvantage in allowing him to take the test. Hope this clarifies your doubt and help you decide. Best of luck!


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