INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS CONCERNING ASSESSMENT OF
TWICE EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN:
It is best to test for giftedness ONLY when the child is fresh, not stressed,
and most able to compensate for areas of learning disability.
Conversely, when testing for learning disabilities, test ONLY when the child
is at the point where the compensation tactics dissolve, and LD's are most
evident (though you usually want the child to be taking any medications that he
or she normally takes).
Be aware that test scores provide a floor, not a ceiling. That is, a
child's score can be artificially lowered by being tired or not feeling well,
hearing/vision problems (including processing problems), fine motor problems
(especially on the WISC, where speed bonuses are important on certain subtests),
or not having a good rapport with the tester are some of the reasons a child
might get a lower score than their "true" IQ. However, a child cannot get
a falsely high IQ score, because a child cannot perform above his or her
According to Linda Kreger Silverman, Ph.D. "... discrepancies among subtest
scores are much greater among the gifted than among any other group. The
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) (American
Psychiatric Association, 1994), which establishes the criteria used by mental
health professionals for various diagnoses, provides clear admonition against
averaging subtest scores when they are highly discrepant.
When there is significant scatter in the subtest scores, the profile of
strengths and weaknesses, rather than the mathematically derived full-scale
IQ, will more accurately reflect the person’s learning abilities. When there
is a marked discrepancy across verbal and performance scores, averaging to
obtain a full-scale IQ score can be misleading. (p. 40)
This advice appears in the DSM-IV under the section on mental retardation. We
recommend that the same caveat be used with the gifted. When discrepancies among
subtest scores exceed 9 points, or when Verbal IQ and Performance IQ scores vary
15 or more points, the child’s strengths and weaknesses should be discussed
separately rather than averaged. The strengths should be used as the best
indication of the child’s giftedness." (Using
Test Reports to Support Clinical Judgment)
Please note: Being listed here is not per se an endorsement of any
particular site or email list. I have included annotations for those sites or
lists that I am familiar with and strongly recommend.
Testing includes assessment for intelligence (IQ) and achievement.
Commonly used IQ tests include the WISC III, the SB-IV. For highly gifted
children, the SB-LM is
often useful, but is heavily weighted towards verbal domains and may provide
underestimates for kids with language-based LDs. It's can also be hard to find
testers familiar with using it. It is important to find a tester who
understands that high "scatter" among subtest scores can be indicative of
potential problems, even if all scores are above average.
The Wrightslaw site has an excellent
article on “Understanding Tests and Measurements for the Parent and Advocate” by
Peter W. D. Wright, Esq. and Pamela Darr Wright, M.A., M.S.W., Licensed Clinical
This article, "Assessing Children for the Presence of a Disability" by Betsy
Waterman, Ph.D., is an overview of the process for anyone whose child is about
to be assessed by their school.
The Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) Clearinghouse on
Assessment and Evaluation provides information concerning educational
assessment, evaluation and research methodology.
Psychological testing for child and adolescent psychiatrists: a review of the
past 10 years by Jeffrey M. Halperin, provides a review of frequently used
psychological tests, with a focus on tests of intelligence, academic
achievement, personality, and neuropsychological functioning.
Another article is Unraveling the
Neuropsychological Assessment by Katherine D. Tsatsanis & Fred R. Volkmar
Professor Ron Dumont Farleigh Dickenson University and his associate John
Willis have a nice set of resources at:
In particular, there is a review and commentary on various tests at
a good discussion of issues in the identification of learning disabilities
as well as information on interpreting Woodcock-Johnson tests at
for those of us who need something to cheer us through all this testing, the
manual for the Dumont-Willis Extra Easy Evaluation Battery (DWEEEB) had me
Psychologist Margaret Kay, Ed.D., sets out appropriate assessment methods for
a variety of different special needs at her website. Click on the specific
special need, and the end of the description will discuss assessment.
The WISC-IV has just been released. You can read a technical paper from
the publisher at
“Functional Behavior Assessment” at the IDEApractices website:
To quote from the article, "FBA is a systematic process for describing problem
behavior, and identifying the environmental factors and surrounding events
associated with problem behavior. This information is used to identify and teach
more appropriate replacement behaviors and to develop an effective plan for
reducing the frequency or severity of the problem behavior."
Leslie Packer, Ph.D., has a particularly excellent discussion of behavior
management, FBAs, etc. Start at
http://www.tourettesyndrome.net/behavior.htm, and make sure that you read
the section Acid
Test (questions to determine whether there's a behavior problem to begin
“Addressing Problem Behaviors in Schools: Use of Functional Assessments and
Behavior Intervention Plans” by Robert A. Gable, Mary Magee Quinn, Robert B.
Rutherford Jr., and Kenneth Howell
The Comprehensive Behavioral Support for Persons with Severe Behavior site
has a detailed section on FBA and Positive Behavioral Support at
Current Issues in Education has the article "Functional Behavioral
Assessment: The Link Between Problem Behavior and Effective Intervention in
Schools" by Jeffrey A. Miller
Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice has a page on Functional
OSEP (Office for Special Education Programs) has a Technical Assistance
Center for Positive Behavioral Interventions
Friday October 06, 2006