...a majority of gifted children show considerable variability in their Composite/Index scores on the WISC-IV, a problem less often encountered in average children. When this occurs, WISC-IV Full Scale IQ scores for the gifted may be difficult to interpret and, in some cases, may be lowered sufficiently by processing skills to prevent gifted children from qualifying for needed programs.
-NAGC Position Statement: Use of the WISC-IV for Gifted Identification
When I decided to have my child formally tested, I started with the local schools. I was under the impression they would be in a position to help him, and it was also free. I began by showing them the evaluation for autism which said that my child was probably gifted. They took this as a starting point to evaluate him for giftedness. They also looked at achievement and other things which may be causing issues.
The psychologist was a woman in her late fifties or early sixties who looked like she hated kids, especially the highly active ones. She took my son into a room that was filled with books, posters, and toys. All I could think was that this was a horrible environment for a child whom we believed to have ADHD. After an hour, she came out and looked very upset, complaining that he had been very hard to focus. My son later told me that he tried to make jokes but she wasn't amused. I left from the testing session with a bad feeling.
I began doing some research into IQ testing and found Hoagies Gifted Web Site. Hoagies had a page on testing and assessment. Reading through the references, I discovered that some tests were better suited to testing the gifted. Specifically, I learned that the WISC-IV was a poor test for some gifted children, especially if they were slow at processing. I also learned that if the child scores 17 or above on 2 subtests, it's a good idea to have them take a test with a higher ceiling. The WISC-IV puts very high value processing speed but places less emphasis on reasoning. As mentioned in the NAGC position statement above, giftedness often comes through in reasoning tests.
Another thing I learned was that rapport between the evaluator and the child being tested is critical. If the child doesn't feel comfortable, they are most likely not going to do well.
As it turns out, that is exactly the test they gave my son. His scores were quite literally all over the place. Coding, in particular, was shown as being significantly below average. He had also scored 17 or above on three subtests. When I mentioned that he had "ceilinged out" on those subtests, the psychiatrist was quite adamant that he had not and that his scores were an accurate reflection of his intelligence. According to her testing, he was bright, but did not qualify for gifted services.
Knowing what I did, I was still puzzled. In a conversation with my mother, she said that I had scored pretty poorly on an IQ test given to me in elementary school. I was confused because while I have never been formally evaluated, I knew my equivalent IQ from the SAT, and I knew I was well above the required IQ to qualify for gifted programs.
At that point, I could only look at those scores and assume they were wrong. However, he had ceilinged out on three tests, and I also knew those tests indicated he was probably a visual-spatial learner. I at least knew I was on the right track. I just wasn't sure what to do about it.