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Interpretation of WISC Scores

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: The school feels my son (7.5 years old - 2nd grade) is ADHD because is can't sit still at school. He thinks differently then other kids. He has a lot of friends at school but feels no one is like him. He wants to talk to adults or younger kids (so he can entertain them). He has "friends" at school, but no playmates that he enjoys. Peers are starting to see him as odd. He is in 2nd grade and is just under average for reading and average for everything else. I am called all the time for his "off task" behavior.

At home he is a very easily engaged kid. His verbal skills are high and he just seems to be working under his level. I thought he may have dyslexia because of letter reversal and a family history of dyslexia. I asked the school to test him for learning problems. There are stuck on ADHD and were not open to testing, but had too. I don't understand what the scores mean. The psychologist told me that outside of the school system that he would have a learning disability, but not within the school system because his IQ is too high. She called him gifted, but didn't want to list a full IQ score.

She said we should be concerned that his scores are so wide, but there was nothing the school could do because he is ineligible for help. The principal said we should be happy that he is in the lower level of 2nd grade reading because that is not that bad. Question: Please tell me what the test scores mean? The school is no help the psychologist doesn't have time to call me (overworked) and the Special Ed teacher and teacher said to drill him on sight words.

WISC-IV: Verbal Comp = 132, Perceptual Reasoning =112, Working Memory =97, Processing Speed = 128.....

K-TEA-2: Letter/Word = 81, Reading Comp=86, Math Concepts=110, Math Computation=114, Written Expression=88, Spelling=96...

WIAT-II: Word Reading = 89, Reading Comprehension = 100, Pseudoword Decoding = 83, Total Reading = 88, Spelling = 88, Written Expression = 103, Total Writing = 99....

WRAML: Verbal Memory = 109, Visual Memory = 100, Learning Index = 93, General Memory Index = 101...

BEERY VMI: SS = 104.

This means nothing to me?! Psychologist told me she gave him every test she had. She said she doesn't think he has ADD (I never thought he did). She said he maybe failing in class because he is not challenged, but LD (which they can't help with) is stopping him. Teacher and principal feel he is not above average, just a kid that thinks outside the box and is very creative and silly. In case you don't know yet, I am dyslexic and I am trying to help my son get a better education then me so he doesn't have to sit here in his 40's with a speller to write a simple note.

Could by son be gifted?
Based on scores could he have a LD?
Based on scores what does low scores mean?
What typed of thinking is in weak in?
Does higher scores mean he is gifted or just had a good day? Most of his scores are around 90 which is normal?

I don't want to refer to him as gifted because I don't wanted the school to laugh at me because he seems average on paper, but anyone that talks to him expects that he is above average in everything. At one point I think he is very smart then I think he is delayed because he can remember that the word is "on" not no, how, not etc. Thank you I feel so helpless.

A: Wow! It is amazing that he has been subjected to so many tests and yet not able to determine what is the best suited intervention for his needs. Unfortunately, I may only be able to provide a guide for the WISC scores due to familiarity.

The table below gives a good indication of average scores of children in the gifted range.

Gifted Average 124.7 120.4 112.5 110.6 123.5

For your son, he has very high score on Processing Speed which assesses children's abilities to focus attention and quickly scan, discriminate between, and sequentially order visual information (this alone may rule out ADHD). It also shows that he is persistent with good planning ability and motivated.

He also has high score on Verbal Comprehension which assesses children's ability to listen to a question, draw upon learned information from both formal and informal education, reason through an answer, and express their thoughts aloud. This index is seen to be a good predictor of readiness for school and achievement orientation. It should be noted that Verbal Comprehension Index is the best of the four indices for predicting giftedness. In addition, research has indicated that subjects who scored in the gifted range on the Verbal Comprehension index often did not score in the gifted range on the Working Memory or Processing Speed Indices. In this case, your son scores very high on the PSI but averagely on Working Memory (which is sensitive to anxiety). Based on these scores he may be in the gifted range (definitely not just a good day!). Perhaps, it would be good to find out the full scale IQ score.

Other scores are in the average range. It is unfortunate that the psychologist is unable to give time to explain the results as s/he would be the best person to explain the scores based on the detailed score for each category and other observable behavior of the child. Perhaps you may want to insist on an appointment. There is such a thing as being gifted with a learning problem. The problem here is that most schools stress on the weaknesses on the child rather than the gifts in such cases, leading the child to much frustration and eventually lose interest in learning.

Based on your description, I tend to believe that he may likely be dyslexic which is a neurological disorder and a lot of research shows a strong hereditary link; but to whether mild or moderate is quite hard to tell. I think the best thing for you to do is to get him a qualified educational psychologist to determine if he has a learning disability. The psychologist would then be able to recommend a proper intervention program to cater for his needs. If he is dyslexic, there are many good programs today and he would certainly not have to go through what you went through. The WJ-III cognitive, with a large variety of subtests, is said to provide the most information in the potential identification of twice exceptional (gifted and learning disabled) children, so you may want to consider this.

Wishing you all the best.

Useful sites:
WISC-IV Technical Report
An Inventory of Test.

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Essentials of WISC-IV Assessment
Dawn P. Flanagan Ph.D, Alan S. Kaufman Ph.D

The WISC-IV is the top intelligence assessment instrument for children in the US, providing essential information into a child's cognitive functioning. This book applies a new, expanded theory-based approach to interpreting the latest edition of the WISCŪ and provides beginning and seasoned clinicians with comprehensive step-by-step guidelines to administering, scoring, and interpreting this latest revision of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children.

This book provides students and practitioners with an unparalleled resource for learning and application, including expert assessment of the test's relative strengths and weaknesses, valuable advice on its clinical applications, and illuminating case reports.

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