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GT-LD Test (updated December 2003)

What diagnostic instruments might be used to identify a learning disability when a child is also gifted?

This file includes information about the use of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) to identify learning disabilities in gifted students. Services for children with learning disabilities are covered under P.L. 94-142 and IDEA. However, those Acts do not address giftedness, and there is no federal legislation that addresses the rights and responsibilities of children who are both gifted and disabled.

Services provided to gifted children vary from state to state, and often vary among school districts within a state. For information on policies and regulations in your state, contact the person responsible for gifted education at your state department of education (http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/eric/fact/stateres.html) or the gifted education advocacy group in your state (http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/eric/fact/stateres.html).


Many psychologists use the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC), third edition, to identify learning disabilities. The WISC is an intelligence test that can be administered only by a licensed psychologist or tester. The scores may be interpreted in several different ways by specialists and nonspecialists alike who understand the significance of the numbers. A WISC score is derived from the scaled combination of two sets of subtests, Verbal and Performance. Each of these two categories has its own total, which is derived from the scaled combination of 6 subtest scores. The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children(r) - Fourth Edition, which added several new subtests and eliminated others, has recently become available. The WISC-IV comprises 10 core and five supplemental subtests, which are grouped into four indices -- verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory and processing speed. Scores from each index, based on the core subtests only, are combined to create a child's total score, or Full Scale IQ (FSIQ).

The following information relates to the The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) Third Edition.

Information - fund of general knowledge
Similarities - verbal abstract reasoning
Arithmetic - numerical reasoning, attention and short-term memory for meaningful information
Vocabulary - knowledge of word meanings
Comprehension - social comprehension and judgment
Digit Span - short-term auditory memory for non-meaningful information

Picture Completion - attention to visual detail
Coding - visual-motor skills, processing speed
Picture Arrangement - attention to visual detail, sequential reasoning
Block Design - visual abstract ability
Object Assembly - part-whole reasoning
Mazes - graphomotor planning, visual-motor coordination and speed

Each subtest delivers a scaled score, which may range from 1 (lowest) to 19 (highest).

Gifted students typically have very high scores in the abstract subtests and somewhat lower scores in the concrete subtests. Gifted students with disabilities typically have a wide "scatter" or discrepancy within either or both the verbal and performance sections. They might demonstrate much lower scores in digit span, which tests a student's ability to hear and repeat - forward and backward - a meaningless string of numbers, or coding, which tests visual-motor integration. Students with weak visual memory, anxiety, and difficulty with concentration or pencil manipulation may score lower than typically expected. School districts typically use a discrepancy between the verbal and performance sections as an indicator of a learning disability, although they might not provide special services unless there are additional indicators. Yet, gifted students with learning disabilities might not demonstrate the typical discrepancy between the verbal and performance sections.

Although the WISC places some ethnic groups at a disadvantage, it is an excellent way to discern a student's strengths and limitations.


The following table is an example of how WISC scores might be categorized by some researchers. The standard deviation (SD=15 or SD=16 depending on the test instrument) was used to determine the breakpoints between categories.

85-99 Lower normal 1 SD below the mean
100-114 Upper normal
115-129 Bright 1 SD above the mean
130-144 Gifted 2 SD above the mean
145-159 Highly gifted 3 SD above the mean
160-??? Profoundly gifted 4 or more SD above the mean

The standard deviation (SD) of the most commonly used IQ tests is 15 or 16. Tables such as the one above commonly use 15-point spreads. At IQ=130, the "gifted" child is as "different," in intellectual abilities, from the "average child" (IQ 85-115), as a child whose IQ is 70. IQ scores do not tell the whole story; however, they are a useful indicator of individual differences, especially when used to inform instruction.

*Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) Fourth Edition

The WISC-IV comprises 10 core and five supplemental subtests, which are grouped into four indices -- verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory and processing speed. Scores from each index, based on the core subtests only, are combined to create a child's total score, or Full Scale IQ (FSIQ).

Three subtests from previous editions -- mazes, object assembly and picture arrangement -- were dropped from the fourth edition in favor of newer working memory and processing speed subtests that researchers discovered are more accurate and better measures of intelligence.

The WISC-IV includes several new subtests. In the new word reasoning subtest, a child receives multiple verbal clues then must determine what those clues mean. For example, the child might identify a mop based on verbal clues that describe its form and function.
The new matrix reasoning subtest measures a child's non-verbal reasoning ability. In this exercise, a child sees a partially filled grid and then selects the item that completes the grid. For example, the child might see two sets of shapes, such as stars and pentagons, with one set arranged in a certain color sequence. The child then must determine the correct color sequence of the second set of shapes to complete the grid.

In the new picture concepts subtest, which measures a child's ability to categorize, the child sees multiple rows of objects and selects those objects that are similar based on an underlying concept. For example, the similar items might be trees or animals.

The new letter-numbering sequence subtest measures working memory. In this exercise, a child hears a mixed combination of letters and numbers. The child first repeats the numbers in numerical order and then the letters in alphabetical order.

A new timed subtest called "cancellation" tests a child's processing speed. In this exercise, a page is covered with pictures of animals and other common objects, either randomly scattered on the page or arranged in rows and columns. The child then marks through - or cancels - the animals as quickly as possibly.

*From The Psychological Corporation, http://marketplace.psychcorp.com/

Following are links to related ERIC Digests, Internet resources, and Internet discussion groups, as well as selected citations from the ERIC database and the search terms we used to find the citations.

You can search the ERIC database yourself on the Internet through either of the following web sites:

ERIC Citations

The full text of citations beginning with an ED number (for example, EDxxxxxx) is available:

The full text of citations beginning with an EJ number (for example, EJxxxxxx) is available for a fee from:

ERIC Search Terms Used

Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children OR Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children III



EJ651739 CG558942
Assessing Giftedness with the WISC-III and the SB-IV.
Simpson, Michael Carone, Dominic A., Jr. Burns, William J. Seidman, Traci Montgomery, Doil Sellers, Alfred
Psychology in the Schools, v39 n5 p515-24 Sep 2002
ISSN- 0033-3085
Language: English
Document Type: Journal articles (080) Reports--Research (143)
Journal Announcement: CIJJAN2003
The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Third Edition (WISC-III) and the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale-Fourth Edition (SB-IV), were administered to 20 gifted children and 20 non-gifted children to examine the extent of the difference in IQ scores obtained on the two tests. Results show that the SB-IV Composite Score was significantly higher than the WISC-III Full Scale IQ for both groups.
Descriptors: *Gifted Intelligence Quotient *Intelligence Tests *School Psychology *Student Evaluation
Identifiers: *Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children III

ED455653 EC308541
Assessment of Children: Cognitive Applications. Fourth Edition.
Sattler, Jerome M.
Publication Date: 2001
This text is designed not only as a teaching text but also as a reference source for students and professionals on the assessment of the cognitive development of children. Chapters address: (1) process challenges of assessing children; (2) context challenges in assessing children; (3) ethical, legal, and professional applications of assessment practices; (4) useful statistical and measurement concepts; (5) historical survey and theories of intelligence; (6) issues related to the measurement and change of intelligence; (7) administering tests to children; (8) the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-III (WISC-III); (9) WISC-III subtests; (10) interpreting the WISC-III; (11) the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence; (12) the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-III (WAIS-III); (13) WAIS-III subtests and interpreting the WAIS-III; (14) the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale: Fourth Edition; (15) differential ability scales; (16) assessment of intelligence with specialized measures; (17) assessment of academic achievement; (18) assessment of receptive and expressive language; (19) assessment of culturally and linguistically diverse children; (20) research findings and recommendations on the assessment of culturally and linguistically diverse children; and (21) principles of report writing. Each chapter includes a summary of key points and study questions. Appendices include tables for the different tests.
Major Descriptors: Cognitive Ability; Cognitive Measurement; Cognitive Tests; Disabilities; Gifted; Intelligence Tests
Minor Descriptors: Cognitive Development; Elementary Secondary Education; Expressive Language; Intellectual Development; Intelligence; Intelligence Quotient; Minority Group Children; Receptive Language; Standardized Tests; Test Content; Test Interpretation; Test Reliability; Test Validity; Testing
Identifiers: *Stanford Binet Intelligence Scale Fourth Edition; Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale; Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children III; Wechsler Preschool Primary Scale of Intelligence
Publication_Type: 010; 055
PAGE: 931
Availability: PRO-ED, Inc., 8700 Shoal Creek Blvd., Austin, TX 48757-6897 ($74). Tel: 800-897-3202 (Toll Free); Fax: 800-397-7633 (Toll Free); Web site: http://www.proedinc.com.
EDRS_Price: Document Not Available from EDRS.
Language: English
Geographic Source: U.S.; California
Note: Produced by Jerome M. Sattler, Publisher, Inc.
ERIC Issue: RIEJAN2002

EJ627649 CG557070
WISC-III Predictors of Academic Achievement for Children with Learning Disabilities: Are Global and Factor Scores Comparable?
Hale, James B. Fiorello, Catherine A. Kavanagh, Jack A. Hoeppner, Jo-Ann B. Gaither, Rebecca A.
School Psychology Quarterly, v16 n1 p31-55 Spr 2001
SN- 1045-3830
Document Type: Information Analysis (070) Journal articles (080) Reports--Research (143)
Journal Announcement: CIJDEC2001
This study of 174 children meeting criteria for learning disabilities revealed that the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Third Edition (WISC-III) factors accounted for a large portion of the achievement variance during hierarchical regression analyses. Proposes that the practitioner should refrain from focusing on global scores and confirms the utility of WISC-III factor scores in predicting academic achievement.
Descriptors: *Academic Achievement Elementary Secondary Education *Learning Disabilities Measures (Individuals) *Predictive Measurement *Predictor Variables School Psychology Test Validity
Identifiers: *Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children III

EJ521554 EC613343
Exploring the WISC-III as a Measure of Giftedness.
Fishkin, Anne S.; And Others
Roeper Review, v18 n3 p226-31 Feb-Mar 1996
ISSN: 0278-3193
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJAUG96
This study investigated patterns of Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) Third Edition subtest scores for 42 gifted children in grades 4-8. Variability from subtest means was highest on Similarities, Comprehension, Coding, and Symbol Search subtests. Significant weaknesses were found on the Block Design subtest, seen as a peak subtest for gifted students on earlier WISC tests.
Descriptors: *Ability Identification; Cluster Analysis; Elementary Secondary Education; *Gifted; *Intelligence Tests; Measurement Techniques; Scores; Test Items; Test Reliability; *Test Validity
Identifiers: *Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children III

ED403288 TM026007
Concurrent Validity of K-BIT Using the WISC-III as the Criterion.
Seagle, Donna L.; Rust, James O.
Apr 1996; 9p.
EDRS Price - MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: RESEARCH REPORT (143)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Tennessee
Journal Announcement: RIEMAY97
The Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (K-BIT) was used as a screening instrument to predict Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Third Edition (WISC-III) scores of 94 students referred for psychoeducational evaluations. Although the correlation coefficient between the K-BIT IQ Composite and the WISC-III Full Scale IQ was 0.771 for the entire sample, the correlation coefficients and effectiveness of the K-BIT as a screening instrument were found to differ depending on the population. For a potentially learning disabled sample, the K-BIT Composite IQ correlated with the WISC- III Full Scale IQ at 0.51. For a potentially intellectually gifted sample, the K-BIT correlated with the WISC-III at 0.34. The mean K-BIT Composite IQ for the entire referred population was found to be 6.926 points less than the average WISC-III IQ. These findings do not support the use of K-BIT as a screening instrument when the WISC-III is used as the criterion measure of intellectual ability.
Descriptors: Academically Gifted; Children; Correlation; Criteria; Evaluation Methods; Intelligence; *Intelligence Tests; Learning Disabilities; *Prediction; *Screening Tests; *Test Use
Identifiers: *Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test; *Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children III

ED394783 RC020582
WISC-III Subtest Scatter Patterns for Rural Superior and High-Ability Children.
Fishkin, Anne S.; Kampsnider, John J.
Mar 1996
10p.; In: Rural Goals 2000: Building Programs That Work; see RC 020 545.
EDRS Price - MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Geographic Source: U.S.; West Virginia
Journal Announcement: RIESEP96
Since the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Third Edition (WISC-III) was published in 1991, it has been reported that fewer students are qualifying for gifted programs that use the WISC-III as a criterion measure. WISC-III differs from the WISC-Revised (WISC-R) in having a greater emphasis on speed of response, which could "penalize" reflective gifted children. The WISC-III was administered to 141 rural West Virginia children aged 6-12.5 who had full-scale IQ scores above 114. The children were categorized according to level of IQ as bright (115-123), superior (124-131), or gifted (132-148). Multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) was used to compare the groups on subtest scores, verbal and performance IQ scores, and two of the four WISC-III factorial indices--verbal comprehension index (VCI) and perceptual organization index (POI). When adjusted for full-scale IQ as the covariate, analyses showed significant differences between the IQ groups for four subtests, for VCI and POI, and for untimed and speed-bonus groups of subtests. The bright group showed comparatively lower scores on subtests yielding bonus points for quick performance; this deficit was not observed for superior and gifted groups. Bright group scores were similar to those of the superior group for VCI, but well below the superior group on POI. Although perceptual organization skills are important in advanced learning, it would appear that WISC-III does not measure these skills in gifted children, but instead measures the "speed" with which children organize perceptual materials. Implications for identification and placement in gifted programs are discussed.
Descriptors: *Ability Identification; *Children; Elementary Education; Elementary School Students; *Gifted; *Intelligence Tests; *Testing Problems; Test Validity; Timed Tests
Identifiers: *Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children III

EJ462536 EC605827
Constancy of IQ Scores among Gifted Children.
Cahan, Sorel; Gejman, Alicia
Roeper Review, v15 n3 p140-43 Feb-Mar 1993
ISSN: 0278-3193
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJSEP93
Target Audience: Researchers
The constancy of intelligence quotients (IQs) of 161 gifted Israeli children, obtained initially in grades K-4 and retested 1-4 years later, was examined. Results indicated that 86% still qualified as gifted on the retest, with mean differences of five to eight IQ points. Performance scores tended to remain constant, whereas verbal scores tended to decline.
Descriptors: *Ability Identification; Elementary Education; Foreign Countries; *Gifted; *Intelligence Quotient; *Intelligence Tests; Junior High Schools; Longitudinal Studies; Nonverbal Ability; Performance Tests; *Test Reliability; Verbal Ability
Identifiers: Israel; Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (Revised)

EJ442611 CG540803
Subtest Scatter on the WISC-R with Children of Superior Intelligence.
Patchett, Robin F.; Stansfield, Michael
Psychology in the Schools, v29 n1 p5-11 Jan 1992
ISSN: 0033-3085
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJAUG92
Examined subtests scatter on Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised by analyzing Verbal-Performance Intelligence Quotient (IQ) discrepancies, subtest scaled-score ranges, and subtests scaled-score standard deviations of 290 psychoeducationally normal 9 year olds whose IQs ranged from 100 to 140+. Found substantial differences on measures of subtest scatter where higher IQ groups exhibited substantially more scatter.
Descriptors: Elementary Education; Foreign Countries; *Gifted; *Intelligence Tests; *Preadolescents
Identifiers: Canada; *Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (Revised)

Date: 12/22/92
Title: Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Third Edition
Age: 6-16
Author: Wechsler, David
Availability: The Psychological Corporation; 555 Academic Court, San Antonio, TX 78204-2498
Subtests: Information; Similarities; Arithmetic; Vocabulary; Comprehension; Digit Span; Picture Completion; Coding; Picture Arrangement; Block Design; Object Assembly; Symbol Search; Mazes
Items: 170
A clinical instrument for assessing the intellectual ability of children ages 6 through 16 years. Comprised of 12 subtests retained from the Wechsler Intelligence Scale For Children - Revised (WISC-R), with a new subtest, Symbol Search. Subtests are organized into two groups: the verbal and the perceptual-motor, or performance. Developed to retain most of the features of the WISC-R but also contains improvements. These improvements include: full-color artwork, the Stimulus Booklet containing the Block Design, Arithmetic, and Picture Completion Subtests. Wording was revised on some items. Outdated items were deleted and ethnicity and gender references were balanced. Biased items were also revised. Provides current normative data.
Descriptors: *Adolescents; *Children; *Intelligence Tests; Perceptual Motor Coordination; Verbal Tests
Identifiers: WISC(III)
Note See WISC (TC 000414) and WISC-R (TC 007461) for related instruments.

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