Someone recommended that my child take the WISC! What is it and what will it tell me?
The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) is a test of cognitive ability that is individually administered. It can be given for a variety of reasons including establishing eligibility for a gifted program, as a qualification for other specialized private academic programs, or to aid in the determination of a learning disability. It has a long history in the United States beginning in 1949 when it was developed by David Wechsler. The current version, the WISC IV, has been in use since 2004.
The WISC is considered to be the “gold standard” in cognitive assessment. It provides an IQ score in addition to other valuable information. An IQ is an estimate of how a student will function in school and in the community. The average IQ score of 100 falls exactly at the midpoint of the average range (50th percentile), when compared to same aged peers. A parent would reasonably expect that this student would perform at grade level in a typical school and display skills similar to other children her age.
Because the WISC is standardized, specific training and supervision is required to correctly administer and interpret this test. That type of training is obtained during postgraduate work. The WISC is a “restricted assessment”, meaning that it can be purchased only by licensed Psychologists. A licensed Psychologist is someone who holds a doctoral degree (Ph.D., Ed.D. or Psy.D.) and has passed both a national examination, as well as one set by the Board of Psychology in a particular state. In school, a professional with certification as a School Psychologist has the training to provide an evaluation in that setting.
Coming next: What can I learn from the WISC's composite scores for Verbal Comprehension, Perceptual Reasoning, Memory, and Processing Speed?