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Age versus Grade on Intelligence Tests

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: We waited a year to send our daughter to school because at the time we thought she was a bit docile and she has a later birthday being July 21st (she was recently diagnosed with anxiety disorder which explains her shyness). This makes her older for her grade. Teachers have always made note that she never participates in class discussions, she always finished everything last. Which made her a bit stealth (we now realize this is due to her anxiety...not wanting to be noticed).

All her test scores have been in the A range never scoring out of the 90's. She also was always in advanced groups for class in all subjects. Since she was a baby she was advanced in learning and performance. I was advised by people who knew her to have her tested for gifted, but wanted to wait. In 3rd grade she took her first state assessment exam and scored advanced. With that we decided to have her tested for gifted. On the WISC-IV she scored

124 in Verbal Comprehension
115 in Perceptual Reasoning
122 in GA Index

on VC scaled she scored
15 on Similarities
13 on Vocab
14 on Comprehension

on Percep reasoning

13 on Block
14 on Pic Con
10 on Matrix

They said she also scored very high in creativity, to quote "off the charts". I was told this peaked their interest so they tested her further.

W/KTEA-II She scored
Letter and word 99
Read Comp 112
Reading 106

Math Concept and ap 113
Math computation 100
Math 109

Here's my concern. They compared her by birthday not grade. Children with her birthday overwhelmingly would be a grade higher so this would not be accurate. They said it usually have the same findings if comped age or grade.

But of course they would since most students are in the appropriate grade for their age. So it would stand to reason while she was in 4th grade she was actually comped with 5th graders. I have found some data which shows children who are older for their grade will score higher when comped by grade rather than age. They did state they could comp either by grade or age and wanted to comp by age and would not budge on doing otherwise.

She is now in 6th grade, can I ask them to take the test results from her gifted assessment from 2 yrs ago and comp them by grade, so as not to have her retested? I should have insisted back then, but I tend to be a go with the flow person. I am however seeing how our daughter not being challenged in gifted classes is affecting her in school. Her grades have slipped quite a bit and she says she's bored. Thanks for your time.

A: WISC-IV scores are normed by age and not grade; and I can see the reason for concern here. This is a concern especially if the child is retained a grade or so. It has been reported that with younger children, there may be little statistical difference in the standard scores when scoring by age or by grade in the case of retention and they do appear to meet the discrepancy either way. However, it may be different with older children. One way of doing this is perhaps to score the answers using two age groups which would enable the tester to make very clear judgments regarding what is instructionally related (learnt from formal schooling) and what is learner related (innate abilities).

You may want to speak to someone at her school and get the raw scores run against a lower age group to see how significant the discrepancies may be. A good tester would be able to make out the differences and interpret the results accordingly. For most tests, after 2 years a reassessment may give better indication of scores. You would need to find out the school policies here.

If she is feeling bored at school and her grades are slipping, immediate attention is required. You mentioned that she has been diagnosed with anxiety disorder; I think there is a bigger concern here rather than her grades, boredom, test scores etc. She may need to deal with the anxieties before focusing on other areas as it affects a child's well being in most environments. Do see a professional for this; she may need some counselling or perhaps medication depending on the severity of her case.

I hope everything works out fine. All the best to you.


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