Is Your Child Smarter than her IQ Score?


“My child didn’t get into the gifted program. Yet, all her friends are in the program. Could her test scores be wrong?” 
We tested a child who didn’t meet the cutoff for the gifted program in his school district; yet, at GDC, he qualified for the Davidson Young Scholar Program, scoring at the 99.9th percentile. How is this possible? When testing for giftedness, false negatives are common. There are endless reasons why gifted children might score lower than their true capabilities. Here are just a few:
  • Taking a group test 
  • Being unwilling to guess
  • Purposely hiding abilities
  • Discomfort with setting
  • Having an off day
  • Visual processing weaknesses
  • Auditory processing weaknesses
  • Other hidden learning disabilities
  • Test anxiety 
  • Discomfort with tester
  • Feeling rushed by the time constraints
  • Tester inexperienced in testing gifted children
  • Tester not probing further when probing is allowed
  • Taking a version of the IQ test that generates lower scores for the gifted
  • Tester assuming the Full Scale IQ score is “valid,” ignoring qualitative indicators of giftedness
  • Tester not administering supplemental subtests to derive composite scores that can better estimate giftedness
IQ tests are not all alike. Group tests are not equivalent to individual tests. Many gifted children do poorly on group tests due to noise, distractions, confusing directions, lack of interest, reading requirements, not understanding time limits, etc. Group tests are only screening tools—just like an eye chart is not the same as a full vision evaluation. 
Even individual IQ tests may produce wildly different results. Recently, a very frustrated mother brought her daughter, a straight-A student, to us for a third opinion. The first IQ test (WISC-V) yielded a Full Scale IQ score of 128. No reading issues were reported—even though Mom was reading her daughter’s history book aloud to her every night. Several months later, she took her daughter for a second assessment (Stanford-Binet V), and this time the girl scored 117! Again, no dyslexia was found. Did Mom say, “Oh well, my perceptions must be wrong”? No, she called Gifted Development Center. By this time, the girl was 16. We gave her the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV) and her Verbal Comprehension Index was 145+, in the highly gifted range! We also established that she had a reading disorder.
Trust your gut. If an IQ score is lower than you anticipated, get a second (or third) opinion.