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WISC-IV Working Memory and Processing Speed

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

My DS was just tested with the WISC-IV and scored in the highly gifted range.  However, the Working Memory and Processing Speed scores were only in the average range which pulled his FSIQ score down.  Luckily, the psychologist explained about the GAI (general ability index) score which is used if there is a statistical difference in the scores.  So the GAI pulled his IQ score up to the highly gifted range whereas the FSIQ was only in the gifted range.  The psychologist explained that ds had a tendency to exhibit impulsiveness when answering the questions which in turn brought down the WMI and PSI scores.  I asked if there was any type of assistance I could offer DS to develop in these areas and she mentioned two web-based programs "FAST FORWARD" and "BRAIN SPARK"  Has anyone used either of these or know anything about the companies.  Both are expensive to use, but look like excellent, and fun programs.  Thanks, Kate

post #2 of 20

This isn't what you are asking but I am wondering why it's worrying you enough to plan this kind of intervention? There are some articles from the Gifted Development Center about average PS and WM scores being perfectly typical for gifted children (http://www.gifteddevelopment.com/About_GDC/whoaregiftd.htm, there are more links at the bottom of the page); and impulsivity sounds typical for a 5 year old boy. If you haven't got reason to assume that it's a problem for him in an educational setting or in other walks of life, why spend a lot of money and possibly worry your child about something being wrong with him now instead of waiting what maturity does for him?

post #3 of 20

My ds's GAI also puts him in highly gifted, but his WMI and PS scores were on the 13th percentile so his FSIQ comes in at moderately gifted. He's 15 but is doing fine in school and life. The scores help explain some of the challenges he was having in the past with music sight reading, but he has basically coped well and in some ways those challenges have been beneficial to him.

 

So unless your ds is clearly struggling with processing-related skills in real life, I certainly wouldn't see any need to work on fixing what is essentially just a test score. Simply testing average on an IQ subtest won't impact his life in any way. 

 

Miranda

post #4 of 20

I agree with the above. My son has similar scores. We had him assessed in hopes that the results would be useful in advocating for enrichment at school... but ended up pulling out of first grade anyway. If he was in school, I would use these scores to try to get him access to a computer, to get him support in developing keyboarding skills etc, but as we homeschool, it hasn't really been an issue. This profile seems pretty common with gifted kids and I don't think it is a big concern.


Edited by Cassidy68 - 4/24/12 at 8:53am
post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigerle View Post

This isn't what you are asking but I am wondering why it's worrying you enough to plan this kind of intervention? There are some articles from the Gifted Development Center about average PS and WM scores being perfectly typical for gifted children (http://www.gifteddevelopment.com/About_GDC/whoaregiftd.htm, there are more links at the bottom of the page); and impulsivity sounds typical for a 5 year old boy. If you haven't got reason to assume that it's a problem for him in an educational setting or in other walks of life, why spend a lot of money and possibly worry your child about something being wrong with him now instead of waiting what maturity does for him?

Ditto this. Really-- a lot of GT kiddos also have a bit uneven scores. At 5, you may also want to retest in a few years. It is suggested for the most accurate testing is from 7-11. Certain parts of the brain mature later--- one of them being impulse control. They also can be related to other things (attentional difficulties, etc) as well, but at 5 it is fairly developmentally OK to be impulsive.
 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

My ds's GAI also puts him in highly gifted, but his WMI and PS scores were on the 13th percentile so his FSIQ comes in at moderately gifted. He's 15 but is doing fine in school and life. The scores help explain some of the challenges he was having in the past with music sight reading, but he has basically coped well and in some ways those challenges have been beneficial to him.

 

So unless your ds is clearly struggling with processing-related skills in real life, I certainly wouldn't see any need to work on fixing what is essentially just a test score. Simply testing average on an IQ subtest won't impact his life in any way. 

 

 


Also agree. My own scores showed slow PS and WMI scores and that was 20 years ago or so. I also had below average written language skills on academic testing. It was noted in the report and probably affected my FSIQ (no GAI then). But to be honest- I learned to compensate. I am aware of my own strengths and weaknesses (still speed and writing) and to be honest it has been good for me. I will never be a witty, 'follow a fast conversion' person- it takes me a bit to digest information. But that is fine with me, actually I like that I mull things over a bit. It fits my personality. I also learned to type and use good editing software.

 

I have a wonderful career, did well in school, and qualified for GT as a young student. A few subtest may share how or why or some insight in how a person learns best. But some of it may be  just the way they are wired to learn, which you can improve.

 

Lots of GT kiddos have some up/down scores. 
 

 

 

 

 

post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thank you everyone for the replies...and so quickly too smile.gif  Makes me feel so much better to know that the WMI and PSI can be average and you can still have a highly gifted child.  The reason I was so concerned about intervention is that apparently in AZ some school district do accept GAI instead of FSIQ and some do not.  Ds' GAI will allow entrance into the highly-gifted self-contained program (which is where I want to place him) however, if they use the FSIQ it will only qualify for pull-out gifted 40 min/week. (which I don't think is enough since kids are gifted all day long not just for 40 minutes a week.)  I did find a position statement from both the APA and NAGC that highly recommended the use of the GAI for acceptance into a gifted program of any kind.  I just hope they accept it and there's not a problem.  Thanks again, ladies!!  I very much appreciate your insight.

post #7 of 20


I agree with pp that it's typical for gifted students to have lower PS and WMI scores, and that time and maturity is often all that is needed. I delayed responding because I was going to look up DD's scores to refresh my memory. IIRC, her PS was average and her WMI was so low that I wondered if there was testing error. I couldn't believe that a student would be able to manage in school with such a poor working memory, but she was top of her class at the time. I considered re-testing, but she did well in school and in a congregated gifted program, so it never seemed necessary. 

 

I recall that when we got the test report, I was concerned enough to start playing more memory games with her, like Concentration (with playing cards) and games with lists (eg. geography game where one person says a place name, and the next person has to think of a place that starts with the last letter of the first place, and the next person has to list the previous places and think of a new one starting with the last letter of the last place etc...........). I taught her a few memory tricks using associations of objects (easy with grocery lists eg. bread, milk, eggs - picture cracking eggs into milk and soaking the bread = French toast - it will be really yucky if we mix in the shampoo that we need to pick up too). Music lessons also seemed to require developing some memory skills too, before she started learning to read music. 

 

We didn't drill it or make it into drudge work. I don't think she really needed the help, but I will mention that she's now a drama major in an arts high school and she is typically the first one to have her lines memorized, and often has other parts memorized too. 

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lovbeingamommy View Post

 The reason I was so concerned about intervention is that apparently in AZ some school district do accept GAI instead of FSIQ and some do not.  Ds' GAI will allow entrance into the highly-gifted self-contained program (which is where I want to place him) however, if they use the FSIQ it will only qualify for pull-out gifted 40 min/week. (which I don't think is enough since kids are gifted all day long not just for 40 minutes a week.)  I did find a position statement from both the APA and NAGC that highly recommended the use of the GAI for acceptance into a gifted program of any kind.  I just hope they accept it and there's not a problem.  Thanks again, ladies!!  I very much appreciate your insight.


Is entrance based solely on a single test score? The gifted programs that my dc attended considered a list of criteria. The IQ assessment weighed heavily, and a 98th percentile was typically applied, so most people assumed that was the only thing that mattered. However, there were a few parents who advocated successfully for their children, based on a broader criteria. I don't think entrance was possible if the scores weren't high enough to support it, but the regulations actually didn't require a hard cut-off at the 98th percentile. If a student had a borderline score and if other criteria (psychologist's assessment, teacher recommendations, portfolio of work) supported placement, then the school had to offer it. I would look at the existing regulations or policies and make sure that they are being applied properly. 

 

post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post

Is entrance based solely on a single test score? The gifted programs that my dc attended considered a list of criteria. The IQ assessment weighed heavily, and a 98th percentile was typically applied, so most people assumed that was the only thing that mattered. However, there were a few parents who advocated successfully for their children, based on a broader criteria. I don't think entrance was possible if the scores weren't high enough to support it, but the regulations actually didn't require a hard cut-off at the 98th percentile. If a student had a borderline score and if other criteria (psychologist's assessment, teacher recommendations, portfolio of work) supported placement, then the school had to offer it. I would look at the existing regulations or policies and make sure that they are being applied properly. 

 


I talked with the director today and it sounds like he can make some accomodations based on what you mentioned above.  The thing is my ds is only half-way through Kinder and really doesn't have a lot of school-ish stuff other than very high DIBELS scores (a state required test for reading readiness), and E's on his report cards, with the exception of handwriting which is slightly lacking.  He does, however, have his own dog biscuit and supply company and sells regularly at Boy Scout swap meets and outside farmer's markets.  He also is a client with a talent agency in our city and has done a few modeling shows and musical productions.  Do you think that type of stuff might help if I put it on the application?  I mean it's not purely academic, but it shows his life so far...I'm also have him scheduled to take the CogAT because apparently it, according to this gifted director, is more valid than the WISC.  However, the school psychologist doesn't seem to agree with that at all. 
 

 

post #9 of 20

Thanks for this thread; it's been useful for me to read.

 

In my limited experience with school accommodations, something like samples of actual academic work years beyond grade level would be most convincing. Writing sample, math placement from Singapore, science diagrams, list of books well ahead of grade level. Ideally something that shows both interest and ability, whether formal or not. 

 

This may be us in a few years; I'd be interested in hearing what others have done.

 

Heather

post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by lovbeingamommy View Post


I talked with the director today and it sounds like he can make some accomodations based on what you mentioned above.  The thing is my ds is only half-way through Kinder and really doesn't have a lot of school-ish stuff other than very high DIBELS scores (a state required test for reading readiness), and E's on his report cards, with the exception of handwriting which is slightly lacking.  He does, however, have his own dog biscuit and supply company and sells regularly at Boy Scout swap meets and outside farmer's markets.  He also is a client with a talent agency in our city and has done a few modeling shows and musical productions.  Do you think that type of stuff might help if I put it on the application?  I mean it's not purely academic, but it shows his life so far...I'm also have him scheduled to take the CogAT because apparently it, according to this gifted director, is more valid than the WISC.  However, the school psychologist doesn't seem to agree with that at all. 
 

 



 

Well, I'm no expert on the various assessment instruments, but from what I know I would agree with the school psychologist. I understood that the CogAt (Cognitive Abilities Test) is not an IQ test and it's somewhat narrower than the WISC or SB. The CogAt assesses reasoning and problem-solving, which is important, of course. I think it's a blunter instrument, usually used for screening but not very helpful if you are wanting more detailed information about a child's cognitive processes. It's also often (usually?) given in a group setting to screen entire classes or grades, and I can't imagine that is more valid than an individually administered WISC. But maybe he will be given the CogAt in an individual session? 

 

Regarding supporting information for entrance to a gifted program - sure I'd include extra-curricular activities, but I would try to demonstrate any advanced academic work that is involved - maybe he's using lots of math calculating his revenues, costs and profits of the company. That would be remarkable for a kindergarten student! Otherwise, domesticidyll's suggestions are good, and reflect the sort of things the parents used in the scenario when I mentioned "portfolio of work" in my earlier post -  

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by domesticidyll View Post

 

In my limited experience with school accommodations, something like samples of actual academic work years beyond grade level would be most convincing. Writing sample, math placement from Singapore, science diagrams, list of books well ahead of grade level. Ideally something that shows both interest and ability, whether formal or not. 

 

 

Heather



 

post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by lovbeingamommy View Post

The reason I was so concerned about intervention is that apparently in AZ some school district do accept GAI instead of FSIQ and some do not.  Ds' GAI will allow entrance into the highly-gifted self-contained program (which is where I want to place him) however, if they use the FSIQ it will only qualify for pull-out gifted 40 min/week. (which I don't think is enough since kids are gifted all day long not just for 40 minutes a week.) 

Ah, I get it.

 

Frankly, I am baffled as to why those two different definitions of IQ (because that's basically what they are) exist at all! Can somebody enlighten me? After all, the rules for the GAI state, if you come right down to it: "If the child scores in the gifted range on all subtests, all subtests count. If the child scores in the gifted range only in Verbal and Perceptual reasoning subtests and in the average range in Working Memory and Processing Speed (because that's the kind of discrepancy that typically shows up), only the gifted scores count." So why include the Working Memory and Processing speed scores at all? Either they are decisive for giftedness or not? And if they are not decisive, why should they be allowed to depress a child's score because the discrepancy happens to be somewhat less than 23 points?

If Linda Silvermans' findings are to be believed (it's a matter of definition again, because she presupposes that all of the children of her sample who took the WISC are gifted, even though their overall average in Working Memory and Processing Speed is in the average range) the scores are not even correlated. Which might mean that only 2% out of 2 % (the gifted population as per GAI) actually score in the gifted range in Working Memory and Processing Speed (I think that estimate is too low, but you must know what I mean...).

Depending on how a program is run, serving the needs of a gifted child with Working Memory and Processing Speed in the gifted range might actually look very different from serving the needs of a gifted child with Working Memory and Processing Speed in the average range or even below. Which might be a good reason for different programs. However, I agree with you that a gifted pull-out 40 min a week is ridiculous. What would you even get done? Nothing but apply an unhelpful label to the child and antagonize everyone...

post #12 of 20
Quote:

Originally Posted by Tigerle View Post

 

So why include the Working Memory and Processing speed scores at all? Either they are decisive for giftedness or not? And if they are not decisive, why should they be allowed to depress a child's score because the discrepancy happens to be somewhat less than 23 points?


Ah but I believe the scores are not merely averaged to get a FSIQ. There's a statistical effect where globally strong scores can produce a higher overall FSIQ than any particular scores. For example, a kid with a GAI score on the 97th percentile would actually end up with a FSIQ score on the 98th or 99th percentile if his WM/PSI scores were on the 97th percentile as well. Why? Because statistically speaking it's very rare to have such consistently high scores. A kid who is moderately gifted on every last subtest scale is actually highly unusual and thus exceptionally capable.

 

Miranda

post #13 of 20

DD just finished the WISC this morning, so I have no idea her scores.  I was able to overhear this morning's testing, and we have KBIT scores (among others), so I'm confident in the fact that she's unusually gifted.
 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KCMichigan View Post

Also agree. My own scores showed slow PS and WMI scores and that was 20 years ago or so. I also had below average written language skills on academic testing. It was noted in the report and probably affected my FSIQ (no GAI then).

 

Is written language part of the WISC?  I was under the impression that it wasn't, though DD took something this morning that involved combining sentences into one.  Example, combine "I have a pet dog." and "I have a pet cat." as "I have a pet dog and a pet cat."
 

I was impressed at how good her working memory appeared to be, and the subtests that I figure were processing speed were over very quickly.  I'm guessing she didn't do so well on the PS section. ;)  That's consistent with our real-world experience in watching her.  It's interesting that some people describe a difficulty in following fast-paced discussion.  That's certainly something she struggles with -- a struggling I find baffling.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigerle View Post

Depending on how a program is run, serving the needs of a gifted child with Working Memory and Processing Speed in the gifted range might actually look very different from serving the needs of a gifted child with Working Memory and Processing Speed in the average range or even below. Which might be a good reason for different programs. However, I agree with you that a gifted pull-out 40 min a week is ridiculous. What would you even get done? Nothing but apply an unhelpful label to the child and antagonize everyone...


A 40 minute pull out was a life line for DD, as it gave her a social cohort.  There are six sections per grade at her school, with 7 kids served as gifted.  Those kids weren't going to find each other otherwise.  She understands herself a lot better, they talk about passions and life, and they learn to make connections across curricula and into their lives that many other kids aren't ready to do yet. It's done quite well in the school, and as far as I know, few people feel antagonized by this.  What's antagonizing about that? 

 

One huge advantage I would see of a full time gifted program is less repetition.  Seriously, you only need to explain a math or science concept to DD once, show her one example, and she's got it.  She can practice a few problems and have it mastered.  She'd do well to have it reviewed a few months later.  Once.  DS doesn't even need more than 2-3 practice problems, and so far, review seems unnecessary.  Is this ability more a factor of GAI or FSIQ?

 

Since there appears to be a lot of testing gurus here, what test involves looking at a series of cards on a computer to match them to 4 piles according to a changing rule where your feedback is RIGHT or WRONG?  As in, there were 4 piles (1 blue triangle, 2 red stars, 3 green squares, 4 yellow circles), and you have two green triangles, and you figure out where to put it?  Which (sub)test is that?  Cuz <whew> she nailed it.

 

{And yes, this is a post from someone anxiously awaiting neuropsych results....}

post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geofizz View Post

A 40 minute pull out was a life line for DD, as it gave her a social cohort.  There are six sections per grade at her school, with 7 kids served as gifted.  Those kids weren't going to find each other otherwise.  She understands herself a lot better, they talk about passions and life, and they learn to make connections across curricula and into their lives that many other kids aren't ready to do yet. It's done quite well in the school, and as far as I know, few people feel antagonized by this.  What's antagonizing about that? 

That's interesting. I couldn't imagine any benefit to a program like this, but at least you find one another, true dat. Why did I think it might antagonize parents? Well, the parents of the gifted kids might be disappointed that their children nominally get "gifted services" as mandated  by state law or district policy or whatever but in reality all their curricular learning (or not learning) takes place in the mainstream classroom, with all the repetition and drill and boredom that entails. And other parents might feel that the program is merely singling out children as "special" without making them do anything to "prove" giftedness, like by having to work harder. 

We probably are in agreement that we'd still take a full-time gifted program over it anyday, but I suppose a pull-out as a social lifeline is better than nothing.

 

Quote:
Is this ability more a factor of GAI or FSIQ?

Probably GAI, but I'm wondering, too...?

post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post


Ah but I believe the scores are not merely averaged to get a FSIQ. There's a statistical effect where globally strong scores can produce a higher overall FSIQ than any particular scores. For example, a kid with a GAI score on the 97th percentile would actually end up with a FSIQ score on the 98th or 99th percentile if his WM/PSI scores were on the 97th percentile as well. Why? Because statistically speaking it's very rare to have such consistently high scores. A kid who is moderately gifted on every last subtest scale is actually highly unusual and thus exceptionally capable.

 

Miranda


Thank you! That makes sense. So it is the 2% out of 2 % as it were...I am wondering, however, if a child scored "merely" in the gifted range except for his average WM/PSI scores and the scores were just within the allowable discrepancy, might the FSIQ be depressed below the gifted range without the child having a GAI to show for, thus not qualifying for any gifted program at all, while a child who happens to end up with exactly one point less on the WM/PSI scores, thus allowing the psychologist to calculate the GAI for him, might end up qualifying with scores actually lower? I am not trying to be annoying, I am really trying to wrap my mimd around it... 

post #16 of 20

I'm not sure, but I think this is what happened to my DD1. Her IQ was 102, but her avg. language score was 125, I think, but since her math scores hovered around two grades below her grade, that brought down her IQ. Can that really happen? Because shouldn't her IQ be 125 instead of 102 if her language abilities are six years head of other kids but her math skills are two years behind? By the way, she was diagnosed with Math LD.

post #17 of 20

Here's my layperson understanding of it, having gone through 3 private psych-eds with two kids, asking lots of questions of the psych and doing some reading.

 

Certain subtests are supposed to have more g (see below); speed and memory the least.  WISC IV weights speed heavily in the calculation of FSIQ.   Apparently FSIQ scores go down an average of 5 points between the WISC IV and WISC III (thus, simply stating 140 without indicating which testing instrument isn't sufficient information, never mind the differences in score rankings between different assessment tools - see http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/highly_profoundly.htm).

 

The higher the FSIQ, the rarer the score.  A child with a 150 FSIQ on the WISC IV would be extraordinarily rare.  A child with a 150 GAI is less rare, but still 99.99999... percentile.  A child with a 150 on either the VCI or PRI is still rare.  And all three are gifted and likely require significant accommodation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quote:
Psychometric g, for general intelligence, refers to abilities that are common to most intelligence tests. There is some consensus that g involves reasoning ability. The construct of g is one of the most researched in psychology, and g is predictive of academic success, amount of education one receives, occupational success, and even adult income. For most intelligence tests, g is estimated adequately by an overall IQ score. Individual intelligence test subtests vary widely in the degree to which they are saturated with g. On the WISC-IV, only verbal subtests and Arithmetic have high g loadings (6 out of 15 subtests). 

 

 

Quote:
Some tests measure abilities that can easily (and spuriously) depress your child’s overall IQ score. For example, performance speed (summarized in the Processing Speed Index) contributes 20% to WISC-IV Full Scale IQ, and our data suggests that over 70% of students applying for gifted placement have Processing Speed Index scores in the average range or below. T.

http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10405.aspx

 

 

 

Quote:
Good Measures of “g”
bullet Arithmetic .768   ← optional subtest on WISC-IV
bullet Vocabulary .751
bullet Information .748
bullet Similarities .733 
 
Poor Measure of “g”
bullet Coding .454

 

Fair Measures of “g”
bullet Matrix Reasoning .687
bullet Block Design .672
bullet Word Reasoning .648
bullet Comprehension .646
bullet Letter-Number Seq. .621
bullet Picture Completion .616
bullet Picture Concepts .582
bullet Symbol Search .568
bullet Digit Span .525
Poorest Measure of “g”
bullet Cancellation .209

http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/tests_tell_us.htm

post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geofizz View Post

Since there appears to be a lot of testing gurus here, what test involves looking at a series of cards on a computer to match them to 4 piles according to a changing rule where your feedback is RIGHT or WRONG?  As in, there were 4 piles (1 blue triangle, 2 red stars, 3 green squares, 4 yellow circles), and you have two green triangles, and you figure out where to put it?  Which (sub)test is that?  Cuz <whew> she nailed it.

 

{And yes, this is a post from someone anxiously awaiting neuropsych results....}


Wisconsin Card Sorting Task = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisconsin_card_sort

 

 

 

post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by ASusan View Post


Wisconsin Card Sorting Task = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisconsin_card_sort

 

 

 



Thanks!  That was the test.  We get the report in a few hours.  We'll see...

post #20 of 20

I'd strongly disagree with the person who told you that the CogAT would be more valid than the WISC.  I have two HG kids with a lot of scatter in their WISC scores.  My one whose scores look like you describe 99-99.9th in VCI and PRI and average in WMI and PSI, has ADD and significant anxiety.  I'd never suggest a diagnosis of 2e issues off an IQ test alone, but I would consider them if you see issues with his performance being erratic or not on par with ability. 

 

The CogAT, fortunately, isn't timed at his age, but when my dd took it in 3rd it was (3rd grade is the grade where it starts to be timed).  It also relies heavily on convergent thinking.  For my out of the box thinker whose processing speed isn't fast, and who took it in a room of 30 kids with people walking in and out during testing (and who is highly distracted by things like that), it wasn't even close to as high as her WISC #s.  We had to retest IQ a second time to prove to the school that her first IQ result wasn't due to "good guessing."

 

Hoagie's has a link somewhere on the testing part of their website about how there are studies that show the correlation btwn IQ and group tests to fall apart once you get outside of the average range.   The publisher of the CogAT also specifically mentions on their website that it is not an intelligence test. 

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