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Ravens Progressive Matrices Test: Accuracy of IQ Tests

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: Our daughter was tested for giftedness by our local school and scored 93 on the Ravens Progressive Matrices test. The cutoff is 95 for acceptance into the gifted program. Of course, we think she's exceptional but the district seems to run very rigidly on test scores. Can you tell me if there is any information available regarding the accuracy of Ravens tests?

I've searched online and have found nothing specific. My objective is to call into question the school policy on test score thresholds by suggesting to them that there is margin for error in all tests, and that other factors should be considered including above grade level achievement, creativity, etc. Can you tell me about / point me to any definitive information on IQ test accuracy -- particularly Ravens?

A: The Ravens Progressive Matrices: Colored, Standard, Advanced Strong is generally a nonverbal test of visual abstract reasoning and pattern recognition. Generally the accuracy of standardized test is quite reliable; however there may be other factors that may have influenced the results (e.g., exhaustion, illness or distraction). An IQ score is a general assessment of an individual's ability to think and reason which indicates one's ability by comparing the IQ of majority of people in that particular age group.

It is very difficult to pinpoint IQ scores with absolute accuracy and it may vary 5 points either way from the test score. There are also abilities that are not measured by IQ testing (e.g., musical or sporting talent, manual dexterity, etc.). Having said that, an IQ score given a good indication of one's ability to think, reason and solve problems.

There is no single test that is said to be accurate enough to determine IQ scores, so a combination of methods is always the best. Schools vary in their identification procedures for gifted programs. Your daughter's school may use the Raven's as the main or perhaps the only indicator for screening pupils into the gifted program. Intelligence tests are primary measures of screening the gifted but today, many schools incorporate more than one measure of giftedness. This may not have been done in your daughter's school.

There is always a margin for errors in such tests and it has indeed been taken into consideration. Nevertheless, many schools do screening in a sequential process, rather than in a simultaneous process which means that further testing is only done after the initial screening, that is, if the child is selected initially. A 93 point score places your daughter in the highly able range, so even if the scores did not meet the cut-off point to qualify for a gifted program, she is certainly likely to benefit from some kind of enrichment program.

Apart from getting her tested from a private tester, you can also speak to the school authorities to see how they can help to cater for her needs. Some schools may be quite rigid with their programs but there is always exception to the case. You may want to suggest a probation period where your daughter can try out a certain program that is likely to benefit her. Good luck.


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