Intelligence and achievement tests are just two of the assessments used to evaluate kids. Together with other tests and tools, they help determine the nature of a child’s challenges.
Intelligence tests measure thinking and problem-solving skills. They can show what a child’s intellectual potential is. Achievement tests measure what that child knows and can actually do.
Evaluators often compare the results of IQ and achievement tests. They do this to spot patterns of strengths and weaknesses in related areas across the two tests.
For example, verbal comprehension on an IQ test is related to reading skills on an achievement test. Consistent weakness in both areas may suggest a learning issue. More testing may be needed. That’s why intelligence and achievement tests often are among the first tests given in an evaluation.
There are many intelligence and achievement tests. The exact ones that an evaluator uses can depend on his personal preferences and training. It can also depend on the age and abilities of the child.
Woodcock Johnson III Tests of Cognitive Abilities
Age range: 2–90+ years
How it works: Kids are given a series of tests on a number of topics. These include verbal comprehension, spatial relations and visual-auditory learning. The tests can take 60 to 90 minutes.
Differential Ability Scales (DAS-II)
Age range: 2.6–17.11 years
How it works: Twenty subtests look at problem-solving skills in a number of areas. There are lots of visual cues, such as pictures. And children can often respond to prompts by pointing to an “answer.”
Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale-V
Age range: 2–85+ years
How it works: This test assesses abilities in five basic areas. These include fluid reasoning, knowledge, quantitative reasoning, visual-spatial processing and working memory.
Universal Nonverbal Intelligence
Age range: 5.0–17.11 years
How it works: This test is given and answered using a series of eight hand and body gestures, such as pointing. It’s often used with kids who are nonverbal or who have hearing issues.
Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-V)
Age range: 6.0–17.11 years
How it works: This test is divided into 15 subtests that assess a range of areas. Results are totaled up to provide one Full Scale IQ score. Sub-scores are also tallied for four other areas. These include verbal comprehension, nonverbal and fluid reasoning, working memory and processing speed.
Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT-III)
Age range: 4.0–50.11 years
How it works: This test is divided into eight subtests. Each assesses a specific ability. There’s a subtests that looks at spelling, for instance, and one that looks at listening comprehension. The subtests may be given over a number of sessions.
Peabody Individual Achievement Test
Age range: 5–22.11 years
How it works: Kids are asked questions on a range of subjects, like reading, math and spelling. They can then look at multiple-choice answers and point to what they believe is the correct response. Because this is a “show me” test, it’s often used with kids who have trouble communicating verbally.
If your child is being tested, it’s a good idea to learn as much as possible about the entire evaluation process. It can also help to know about the specific assessments used. The more you know, the easier it will be to explain the process to your child.