Why Might Schools in Charlotte Suggest the Use of the Stanford-Binet 5 to Assess Giftedness?
I have received a number of calls from parents within the Charlotte area who are inquiring about why their children’s schools require the Stanford-Binet 5. This is a very appropriate question, especially in modern times, when it seems as though our children are being tested constantly at school! Why couldn’t the tests that our children have already been administered suffice?
Here are some thoughts about why, from an educator’s standpoint, the Stanford-Binet 5 may be recommended. The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale-5 (or 5th edition of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence test) performs well at high and low levels of IQ. The range of difficulty of items is extensive, without restriction by floor or ceiling effects, which make the scale ideal for testing gifted examinees as well as low functioning individuals. Other measures such as the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Fifth Edition (WISC-V), or group intelligence tests, are more susceptible to “ceiling” effects in the gifted population. What is a ceiling effect? The highest possible score one can obtain on a test is known as the test’s ceiling, and students whose abilities fall at or above this level receive the same score even though their abilities are not identical (and in fact may be higher). This ceiling effect can pose a problem for people with very high IQs, because many standardized tests (including intelligence tests) are designed to work best within three standard deviations of the mean or average. My understanding is that the WISC-V was one such test. In other words, with tests known to have ceiling effects (such as the WISC-V), the closer a score comes to the test’s ceiling, the less accurate it is as an indicator of the child’s level of ability. Therefore, the school district may recommend that gifted children be administered tests with a high ceiling, and the Stanford Binet 5 is one classic example. Fun fact: For those who are history buffs, this test is directly tied to the very first standardized test of intelligence, the 1905 Binet Scale.
Interestingly, some research has shown that while full scale (overall IQ) and verbal IQ are very highly correlated between the WISC-III and the Stanford Binet (at the time, an earlier version), the nonverbal IQ score between the WISC and Stanford Binet are less highly correlated. Some have stated that the Stanford Binet is more “mathy” (i.e., favors those who are mathematically inclined). I welcome discussion about this. However, both tests yield a verbal IQ, a non-verbal IQ, and an overall (or full scale) IQ.
One nice feature of the Stanford-Binet 5 is that it uses objects that a child can manipulate to a greater extent (in my view) than the WISC-V. This may hold a child’s interest longer. The Stanford-Binet 5 test developers also appear to have developed a test that is relatively free of cultural or other biases, another reason that school districts may advise parents that children should be privately tested using this measure.
Another feature of the Stanford-Binet 5 that makes it particularly appropriate for the gifted population is that it is not as reliant on the amount of time that the child takes to complete the test. Gifted children can be very methodical and want to take their time in approaching a problem and crafting a solution. The WISC-V and other tests have more time limits and a child can “time out” of a test. The Stanford-Binet 5 is more lenient in terms of giving children time to complete tests, which can be of benefit for the gifted child.
While I would not want to overstate that there is consensus among those who work in testing and measurement in this area, it is frequently cited that the Stanford-Binet 5 is the test of choice for the highly gifted student.
Parenthetically, there are some good articles on private testing and gifted children. See: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/gifted-kids/201108/private-testing-gifted-kids-if-and-when for an interesting read!