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Discrepancies in the WISC-IV scores

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My son recently had a psychological evaluation done, as he is having behavioral problems at school. He is 10 years old and just finished grade 4. Here are the results of the WISC IV:

  • VCI 142

  • PRI 113

  • WM 109

  • PS 100

  • FSIQ 123

  • GAI 132

The Conner's evaluations showed him as oppositional, but no strong indication of an attention problem. The psychologist interpreted the test results as indicating that my son has a nonverbal learning disability and is verbally gifted. When I look at the signs of NVLD, they do not describe my son. The troublesome aspects he has are: often doesn't pay attention to lessons, instructions at school and home; doesn't seem to hear sometimes; responds slowly to requests; is forgetful and disorganized. He has relatively poor spelling and grammar in written work for a child who reads so avidly. Is this related to his relatively low WM and PS?

Any advice to help me interpret the results and find the best school system for my son would be appreciated. He is currently in a Montessori school, but I think he may need a more structured program.

A: The results generally place him in the high range of ability; and the GAI indicates some sort of a learning problem, hence the lower FSIQ.

It appears that your son has highly superior verbal comprehension index (VCI) which measures verbal concept formation. This suggests his high ability to listen to a question, draw upon learned information (both from formal and informal learning) reason through an answer, and express thoughts aloud. He would also probably need more time to process information rather than making spot on decisions. Generally, it predicts readiness for school and achievement orientation rather well.

The other scores are in the average range (with WMI a little above average). But the FSIQ indicates that he is in the gifted range based on the test. In any case, the VCI has been researched to be the best predictor for giftedness. In addition, the VCI accounts for 62% of general intelligence.

The GAI may replace the FSIQ for eligibility in special programs because it is sensitive to cases in which working memory performance is discrepant from verbal comprehension performance and/or processing speed performance is discrepant from perceptual reasoning performance at an unusual level. It can also be compared to the FSIQ to assess the effects of working memory and processing speed on the expression of cognitive ability. It is possible that a lowered FSIQ may be apparent for some children with learning disabilities, attention problems, or other neuropsychological issues. In your son's case, a significant and unusual discrepancy exists between VCI and WMI warrants for the use of GAI.

You may need to do further tests to determine the problem especially for NVLD. Speak to the tester (WISC) to help interpret the results in detail, looking at the sub scores from each category and have him/her recommend other tests. I believe your son may need special individualized program catered for him and as you mentioned, some structure is required. Hope that helps a little. Good luck!


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