Navigating the PreK Intelligence Testing Process Required by New Orleans Independent Schools

A few years ago I produced an informational program to help parents navigate the PreK/Kindergarten intelligence testing process. Clinical psychologist, Dr. Arian Elfant, discussed the mechanics of the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI-III) required by most local independent schools, what to expect and how the results can be useful. Below is a recap.

For those of you who are new to town and/or New Orleans parenting of school-age children, all students applying to an ISAS (Independent Schools Association of the Southwest) school in New Orleans are required to take the WPPSI-III. For a list of ISAS schools, visit www.isasneworleans.org.

WPPSI-III Overview

The WPPSI-III is a preschool intelligence test administered to children within the age range 2yrs 6mos – 7yrs 3mos of age. It is considered one of the most reliable and valid intelligence tests designed for preschool children.

For children age 3, 5 verbal/nonverbal subtests are administered. The test lasts approximately 30-45 minutes. For children 4 years and older, there are 10 verbal/nonverbal subtests typically administered. The test lasts approximately 45-60 minutes.

The test itself is colorful, engaging and interesting for children and it is typically administered at the psychologist’s office.

A child’s score is compared to a normative sample of children within 3 months of age of your child. Change is so rapid at this stage of development, so your child will only be compared to other children within a very small window of his/her age. IQ is not stable until at least age 8.

A child can only be tested once within a year. A child’s test scores are confidential and are only forwarded to a specific school(s) per a parent’s written request.

What the WPPSI-III Test IS:

  • It is a snapshot of your child’s abilities;
  • It reveals a child’s ability to navigate the world/solve problems verbally and nonverbally;
  • It reveals a child’s ability to focus, which can indicate school readiness;
  • It evaluates a child’s verbal skills, such as acquired knowledge and understanding of words; and
  • It evaluates a child’s nonverbal skills, such as visual perceptual skills and spatial skills.

What the WPPSI-III Test is NOT:

  • Test results are not a reflection of you as a parent;
  • It does not necessarily predict a child’s potential or achievement;
  • It does not capture everything about how wonderful/unique/great your child is;
  • It does not evaluate a child’s creativity or personality;
  • It does not evaluate a child’s ability to read or write; and
  • It does not evaluate school-based information.

How the WPPSI-III results can be useful:

  • Results can give you a sense of your child’s strengths and weaknesses;
  • Results can provide you with a sense of the kind of learning environment in which your child will likely succeed;
  • You want to pick a school that is a good fit for your child and you want a school that can accommodate your child as an individual; and
  • These results may red flag a problem, but one that will probably not come as a surprise to you.

How much does the test cost?

Each psychologist has his/her own fee. A reasonable range might be $175-$400, which may or may not include a follow up consultation with the psychologist to go over the test results.

How do you pick a tester?

You can download a list of recommended psychologists who are qualified testers from any of the ISAS school websites. Also, ask for recommendations from schools, friends and/or family. If you are still confused about whom to choose, a good rule of thumb is to call 3 psychologists and find one you feel is a good fit for you and your child.

What credentials are required for a tester?

A tester must be licensed and have a Ph.D. in Psychology.

Where is the test performed?

The test is typically performed at the psychologist’s office.

What if I have a shy child?

Children communicate in many ways and not always with words. Shy children typically enjoy the one-on-one setting and your psychologist is well trained to handle this so that your child feels as comfortable as possible.

Should I have my child tested BEFORE or AFTER his/her 4th birthday?

It is up to you. The test for the 3yo is shorter in length than the 4yo year old test. Some prefer that their child have a briefer test and some prefer the longer test because more information is provided.

My child is bilingual. How will this affect her scores?

This information will be provided in the report as pertinent background information and considered in interpreting his/her scores.

Based on a child’s test results, will the tester/Psychologist make school recommendations?

Your psychologist will likely not make specific school recommendations, but may be able to help guide you about the type of setting your child will work well in (e.g., very structured vs. more hands-on learning). However, these recommendations are based on only limited information about your child. You are strongly encouraged to tour and visit the schools yourself. You know your child best. Ask yourself “can I picture my child here?” Another great resource is to consult with any teachers or caregivers your child has had and ask them questions about how your child operates in groups, interacts socially, etc.

Written by Ashley Bond

Ashley Bond

Founder of parenting blog, entrepreneur, underestimated disorganized overachiever.

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