Making the Switch: Unlocking

the Mystery of the WISC-IV
Shelley C. Heaton, Ph.D.
Dept of Clinical & Health Psychology
Case Conference
July 24, 2004
Why another revision?
A) Keep us on our toes
B) Revisions to theoretical foundations
C) Make more money
D) The old pictures were ugly
E) Improve psychometric properties
F) B & E
It‟s been longer than we think…
1949: The Beginning of time (WISC)
1974: WISC-R
1991: WISC-III
“12 AW”: WISC-IV (2003)
Wechsler (1958)
“[The grouping of subtests into Verbal and
Performance areas]…does not imply that
these are the only abilities involved in the
tests…The subtests are different measures of
intelligence, not measures of different kinds
of intelligence, and the dichotomy of Verbal
and Performance areas is only one of several
ways in which the tests could be grouped.”
In: The measurement and appraisal of adult intelligence. (pg 64)
What‟s happened since then?
Changes in I ntelligence Theory
– Greater emphasis on multiple factors
– Greater emphasis on fluid reasoning
(e.g., manipulating abstractions, rules,
generalizations, and logical relationships)
– Importance of working memory in learning
– Importance of processing speed as „mediator‟
– Process approach to evaluating performance
(how they did it is as important as whether it‟s right/wrong)

…evident in structural changes to revision
What is Fluid Reasoning?
 Definitions
– “Ability to perform mental operations, such as the
manipulation of abstract symbols” (Sternberg, 1995)

– G
from the Horn–Catell model (Catell, 1941; Horn, 1968)

– Encompasses the abilities of reasoning under novel
conditions: general reasoning, figural relations,
semantic relations, classifications, concept formation
(Horn & Noll, 1997)

 New WISC-IV Subtests
– Picture Concepts
– Matrix Reasoning
– Word Reasoning
What is the Process Approach?
How a child performs tasks is as important,
and often even more important, than the
score obtained.
Understanding performance on individual
items, including the kinds of errors a child
makes, can provide rich clinical information.
Describing the strategies a child employs
when performing tasks provides a basis of
interpretation that resonates deeply with
parents, teachers, and even with the child.

– Flynn Effect
• We‟re getting smarter…or at least the young one‟s are

– Demographic Shifts
• Ethnic growth (Hispanic 11%  15%)
• Regional growth (more in W & S than NE)

– Clinical Utility
• Extending floors & ceilings
• Increase linkage with other tests (WIAT-II, CMS)
• Improved Reliability/Validity evidence (Clinical Samples)
Psychometric & Normative I mprovements
The Old Structure: WISC-III
(10 core subtests)
FSIQ = Verbal IQ (5) + Performance IQ (5)
Index Scores
– Verbal Comprehension (VCI)
– Perceptual Organization (POI)
– Freedom from Distractibility (FDI)
– Processing Speed (PSI)
3 optional subtests (1 useless)
But…to get FDI & PSI, must add 2 subtests
The New Structure: WISC-IV
(10 core subtests)
FSIQ = Sum of 4 Index Scores
– Verbal Comprehension (3)
– Perceptual Reasoning (3)
– Working Memory (2)
– Processing Speed (2)
4 optional subtests (for substitutions)
Same # of subtests, but now you get all
index scores without having to add subtests
(4 Indexes for the price of 10, instead of 12)
** (Word Reasoning)
Block Design
** Picture Concepts
** Matrix Reasoning
** (Picture Completion)
Digit Span
** Letter-Number Sequencing
Symbol Search
** (Cancellation)
Renamed FDI
The New Structure…FSIQ =
Verbal Comprehension Index
Perceptual Reasoning Index
Working Memory Index
Processing Speed Index
What was removed (from WISC-III):
Verbal Comprehension Index
Perceptual Reasoning Index
Working Memory Index
Processing Speed Index
Object Assembly
Picture Arrangement
The New Subtests – 5 in all
(Word Reasoning)
Picture Concepts
Matrix Reasoning
Letter-Number Sequencing
Verbal Comprehension Index
Perceptual Reasoning Index
Working Memory Index
Processing Speed Index
(Word Reasoning)
Picture Concepts
The Brand New Tests….(3)
Picture Concepts (core)
Perceptual Reasoning Index
“Pick one here..
“that goes with
one here..”
Sample items only: “Why do they go together?”
Word Reasoning (supplemental)
Verbal Comprehension Index
“Let’s play a guessing game. Tell me what I’m thinking of.”
Let‟s test the ceiling item…
This has never been seen or done before…

and it can make our lives better and easier…

and it is a product of the mind.

1 point: discovery, invention, innovation,
technology, imagination, creativity,
Cancellation (supplemental)
Processing Speed Index
Random vs Structured
“When I say go, draw a line through each animal. Work as
quickly as you can w/out making any mistakes. Tell me
when you are finished.”
The “Borrowed” New Subtests…(2)

(new to the kiddie tests, but not new to us)
Matrix Reasoning
Letter-Number Sequencing
“Tell me the numbers first, in order, starting with
the lowest number. Then tell me the letters in
alphabetical order.”
Credit is given if produced “in order”
(i.e., correct sequence), even if letters are listed first.
Other Perks in the Revision:
 Decreased testing time (arguable)
 Simplified administration & scoring
 1 supplemental subtest for each index
 Dividing & Reorganizing the Manual
 Prettier pictures and new items
 Process Scores!!!
– Block Design: non bonus time items (can do comparison too)
– Digit Span: Forward vs Backward (& max digits scoring)
– Cancellation: Random vs Structured

Clinical Utility and Validity
Norms: 2,200 children (11 age groups)
16 special group studies
Linking Studies
– WIAT-II (N=550)
– CMS, 110 cases, (in progress)
– Adaptive Behav. Assess. System-II (N=200)
– Bar-ON EQ (N=200)
– Gifted Rating Scale (N=240)
Administration Guidelines
Familiarize yourself
New subtests
New items
New scoring (even for old tests – BD)
Supplemental Subtests
 Extra = don‟t add into the Index scores

 Substitute = add it into Index scores

– 1/Index: Only 1 substitution allowed
when deriving any Index Score
– 2/FSIQ: Only 2 total substitutions
allowed when deriving FSIQ
Prorating – don’t do it
Avoid prorating if at all possible
VCI & PRI can be prorated if 2/3
contributing subtest scaled scores are valid
WMI & PSI cannot be prorated unless
supplemental subtests were administered
(but Full Scale IQ cannot be derived if you
do this)
Interpretation of the
WISC-IV Profile
Scores are the same:
Subtest Scaled Scores:
Mean = 10, SD = 3
IQ and Index Scores:
Mean = 100, SD = 15
Individual‟s Rank Compared to
Normative Group
Qualitative Descriptions (same)
Score Classification
130 and above
69 and below
Very Superior
High Average
Low Average
Extremely Low
When interpreting…
consider 3 things:
1. Score Differences
 A statistically significant difference between
scores refers to the likelihood that obtaining
such a difference by chance is very low if
the true difference between the scores is 0.
The level of significance reflects the level of
confidence you can have that the difference
is a true difference ( 0.15 or 0.05).

 The use of the 0.05 level of significance has
been suggested for most testing purposes
(Kaufman and Lichtenberger, 1999)
2. Standard Error
The difference between scores required for
significance is computed from the standard
error of measurement of the difference.
Refer to tables A.2 through A.6
Tables use estimated true score
The use of the 95% confidence interval
should be considered (Lichtenberger and Kaufman, 2004)

3. Base Rates
 Cumulative Frequency tables or base rates
indicate how frequently a discrepancy of a
specific size occurred in the standardization
 Index score base rates are also available by
ability level. The B.2 Tables include
 FSIQ ≤ 79
 80 ≤ FSIQ ≤ 89
 90 ≤ FSIQ ≤ 109
 110 ≤ FSIQ ≤ 119
 FSIQ ≤ 120
Interpretation Recommendations
Give more weight to composite score
differences that are infrequent than to those
that are merely statistically significant

Interpret scatter among subtests carefully
(more on this later)

Include relevant process information
Reporting Full Scale IQ
Most reliable score
Report standard score, confidence
intervals & percentile rank
Include descriptive category
Interpreting the Full Scale
Score…Where Scatter Comes in
Does the full scale IQ represent a unitary
– Examine Index discrepancies using statistical
significance and base rate comparisons
– Examine Subtest scatter (Table B.6)
Variability among subtest scores is common
– Does not necessarily indicate cognitive problem
More on subtest scatter…
Assess frequency of a subtest scatter before
assuming it is unusual or important (Table B.6)
– Over half of all children exhibit scatter of up to
7 points among the 10 Core subtests
– When all 15 subtests are administered, well
over a third of children exhibit scatter of up to 9
Interpreting the Full Scale Score
Interpret the Full Scale IQ if it represents a
unitary construct of cognitive abilities
If the Full Scale IQ is not unitary then focus
on subtests scores

Interpreting Index Scores
1. Enter the various index standard scores on the
Analysis page from the Summary page.
2. Calculate the difference between scores.
3. Use Table B.1 to identify Critical Value by age.
4. Use Table B.2 to identify the Base Rate.
Interpreting Index Scores
Are differences among index scores
– Statistical significance
– Base Rates
If there is statistical significance and a low
base rate then interpret differences among

Interpreting Index Scores
Does index represent a unitary construct?
– Evaluate scatter among subtests (Table B.6)
If the index is unitary, then interpret
If index is not unitary, discuss scatter

Interpreting Subtest Scores
1. Complete subtest strengths & weaknesses section.
2. Calculate the subtest mean (all subtests, VCI or PRI subtests)
3. Use Table B.5 to identify critical value.
4. Use Table B.6 for base rates.
Interpreting Process Scores
Complete the Process Analysis section
1. entering scaled scores
2. finding the difference
3. look up the critical values in Table B.9
4. Look up the base rates in Table B.10.
Supplemental Information…
Remaining slides were taken from other
available presentations for your reference.
VCI Index Description
 Verbal Comprehension Index (VCI)
– Similarities, Comprehension, and Vocabulary subtests
– Requires verbal conceptualization, stored knowledge
access and oral expression
– Child must answer orally presented questions that
assess common-sense reasoning, reasoning out or
retrieving word associations, and the ability to describe
the nature or meaning of words.
– Verbal expression required (length of response varies)
PRI Index Description
 Perceptual Reasoning Index
– Matrix Reasoning, Picture Concepts, and Block Design
– Requires visual perception and organization and
reasoning with visually presented, nonverbal material to
solve the kinds of problems that are NOT school taught
– BD also requires visual-motor coordination and the
ability to apply all skills in a quick, efficient manner.
The highest scores reflect both accurate and very quick

WMI Index Description
 Working Memory Index
– Composed of Letter-Number Sequencing and Digit
– Requires working memory processes applied to the
manipulation of orally presented verbal sequences
– Note that Digits Forward only requires initial encoding
and a verbal response as do the initial items on LNS
PSI Index Description
 Processing Speed Index
– Coding and Symbol Search
– Requires visual perception and organization, visual
scanning, and the efficient production of multiple motor
– These tasks require executive control of attention and
sustained effort for a 2-minute period of time while
working with visual material as quickly as possible
– Performance on Coding is also dependent on paired-
associative learning

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