Bannatyne Reading, Writing, Spelling and Language Program

Third Edition

BANNATYNE RECATEGORIZATION OF THE

WISC SUBTEST SCORES

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INTRODUCTION

The following recategorization of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) subtest scores can be used with any edition of the first three editions of the WISC because the names and essential tasks in this IQ test have remained the same for decades--until the WISC IV was published in 2003 (see later below).

WISC is an acronym for the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children first created by David Wechsler in 1949. The WISC Tests are published by The Psychological Corporation, Harcourt. The following Recategorization may be used with the first three editions of the WISC. Note that a separate Recategorization for the WISC IV Subtests is given later below.

WISC SUBTESTS--SUBTEST NAMES AND TASK CONTENT

Verbal Scale

Information: This subtest, which measures a student's range of factually acquired knowledge, depends on a large number of educational and cultural factors in the home, environment and school. It is also dependent on verbal ability, especially vocabulary.

Similarities: This subtest measures a student's ability to abstract a general category from two related instances. For example (not in the test) how are the following the same, a canoe and a dinghy? The answer being "boats." Obviously this test depends on a mixture of (verbal) vocabulary, inductive reasoning and general knowledge.

Arithmetic: This subtest measures a student's knowledge of mental arithmetic, which obviously was acquired in school or through home schooling. Mental arithmetic also involvers many sequencing skills.

Vocabulary: This subtest measures a student's ability to define words orally, and so it is doubly verbal--he has to recognize the word and have the additional vocabulary to define it.

Comprehension: This subtest measures a student's ability to answer common sense questions about cultural situations and is heavily biased to middle class values. It also calls for verbal skills.

Digit Span: This subtest measures a student's ability to auditorially remember series of spoken numbers (digits) and repeat them back, and so this subtest is dependent on sequencing memory for words, because numbers in this context are words: one, two, three, etc.

Performance Scale

Picture Completion: This subtest measures a student's ability to work out what is missing in a series of pictures, and it measures visual closure in a context of recognition experience with the objects depicted. To a degree, this subtest measures spatial ability.

Coding: This subtest measures a student's ability to memorize symbols and arbitrary associations at speed. This test is highly loaded with verbal intelligence (on factor-analyses) and should not be in a Performance Scale.

Picture Arrangement: This subtest measures a student's skill in arranging a set of pictures consecutively (left to right like a comic strip) so they tell a meaningful story. This is essentially a verbal sequencing skill even though a modicum of spatial recognition is involved. Comic readers have a distinct advantage!

Block Design: This subtest measures a student's ability to arrange blocks with colored sides (some sides have two halves diagonally split into two colors) by matching the blocks with designs on printed cards. This subtest depends almost entirely on spatial ability and has perhaps the least cultural training, although students brought up at home with colored blocks will be at a distinct advantage.

Object Assembly: This subtest measures a student's ability to put together the pieces of a set of puzzles, each to form a recognizable object when correctly solved (e.g., a house). Obviously this subtest is also loaded with spatial ability and assembly skills, although those who have been previously exposed to pictures of the objects or have seen the actual objects, will be at an advantage here.

BANNATYNE RECATEGORIZATION OF THE WISC SUBTEST SCORES (First three editions)

School and clinical psychologists may wish to recategorize the WISC subtest scores in the following way in order to obtain a much more accurate picture of a student's verbal ability, spatial ability, sequencing ability and acquired knowledge. Note that this recategorization is primarily to assist you with the diagnosis of those students who have good spatial ability versus poor verbal and sequencing skills. This example is from an actual case history.

VERBAL CONCEPTUALIZING ABILITY [VCA]

SUBTESTS

SCALED SCORE

TOTAL SCALED SCORES (3 Tests)

PRORATED FOR 5 TESTS (Verbal Scale)

EQUIVALENT IQ SCORE FOR VCA

Comprehension

10

 

26

 

26 X 5/3 = 43

 

 

91

Similarities

8

Vocabulary

8

SPATIAL ABILITY [SPA]

SUBTESTS

SCALED SCORE

TOTAL SCALED SCORES (3 Tests)

PRORATED FOR 5 TESTS (Perf. Scale)

EQUIVALENT IQ SCORE FOR SPA

Picture Completion

14

 

43

 

43 X 5/3 = 72

 

131

Block Design

15

Object Assembly

14

SEQUENCING ABILITY [SQA]

SUBTESTS

SCALED SCORE

TOTAL SCALED SCORES (3 Tests)

PRORATED FOR 5 TESTS (Verbal Scale)

EQUIVALENT IQ SCORE FOR SQA

Digit Span

6

 

21

 

21 X 5/3 = 35

 

81

Arithmetic

7

Coding

8

ACQUIRED KNOWLEDGE [ACK]

SUBTESTS

SCALED SCORE

TOTAL SCALED SCORES (3 Tests)

PRORATED FOR 5 TESTS (Verbal Scale)

EQUIVALENT IQ SCORE FOR ACK

Information

6

 

21

 

21 X 5/3 = 35

 

81

Arithmetic

7

Vocabulary

8

Chronological age: 14 years 8 months Gender: Male Grade; 8 (plus Resource room for Reading)

WRAT Scores: Reading word recognition: Grade 3.2 Spelling: Grade 3.3 Arithmetic Grade 4.9

NEALE Scores: Accuracy Reading Age: 7y 11m. Reading Comprehension 9y 1m. Rate (Fluency) 8y 2m.

Reason for referral: Failing in reading and spelling. No emotional problems. Likes school but feels dumb!

Diagnosis: Dyslexia

This diagnosis was confirmed by Tim's (false name) poor test results on Auditory Closure, Sound Blending, a perfect score on the Bender Motor Gestalt Test, a near perfect score on the Memory for Designs Test and FIVE left hand (right hemisphere) mirror images on the Simultaneous Writing Test (using both hands simultaneously to write a downwards column of numbers 1 - 9 as quickly as possible). Tom likes school but many years of reading failure have dampened his enthusiasm a lot. Tom was delighted to hear he was very highly intelligent in Spatial Ability (IQ Equivalent 131), and that he could be an engineer if he could pass his academic verbal tests (High School Diploma and SAT).

Recommendation:

Tim should begin in the Bannatyne Program at the Galleon Workbook and have an hourly session each day. He should also receive a thorough training in mathematics using a very structured visual-spatial method of teaching that subject. He is very willing to do what it takes to read and spell at his grade level.

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WISC IV (2003)--BANNATYNE RECATEGORIZATION OF THE SUBTEST SCORES

WISC IV (2003) SUBTESTS--SUBTEST NAMES AND TASK CONTENT

VERBAL COMPREHENSION SCALE TESTS

Similarities: This subtest measures a student's ability to abstract a general category from two related instances. For example (not in the test) how are the following the same, a canoe and a dinghy? The answer being "boats." Obviously this test depends on a mixture of (verbal) vocabulary, inductive reasoning and general knowledge. Variance research shows this test to be well loaded with verbal ability, so it is used in the recategorization group below.

Vocabulary: This subtest measures a student's ability to define words orally, and so it is doubly verbal--he has to recognize the word and have the additional vocabulary to define it. Variance research shows this test to be highly loaded with verbal ability, so it is used in the recategorization group below.

Comprehension: This subtest measures a student's ability to answer common sense questions about cultural situations and is heavily biased to middle class values. It also calls for verbal skills. Variance research shows this test to be well loaded with verbal ability, so it is used in the recategorization group below.

Information: This subtest, which measures a student's range of factually acquired knowledge, depends on a large number of educational and cultural factors in the home, environment and school. It is also dependent on verbal ability, especially vocabulary. Although it is also somewhat loaded with verbal ability, it is more useful in the acquired knowledge recategorization group below.

Word Reasoning: This subtest measures a student's ability to work out from up to three verbal clues what the particular thing or concept is. A three-clue example would be: 1. It falls from the sky.  2. You can use a coat to protect yourself from it.  3. It is made of water.  This test is NOT used in the recategorization below simply because, in general, the Similarities, Comprehension and Vocabulary subtests have superior variance loadings.

PERCEPTUAL REASONING (OLD PERFORMANCE SCALE)

Block Design: This subtest measures a student's ability to arrange blocks with colored sides (some sides have two halves diagonally split into two colors) by matching the blocks with designs on printed cards. This subtest depends almost entirely on spatial ability and has perhaps the least cultural training, although students brought up at home or in kindergarten with colored blocks will be at a distinct advantage. Block design has always been a criterion test for spatial ability and is included in that recategorization category below. This test has the highest variance spatial ability loading of all the WISC IV subtests.

Picture Concepts: This subtest measures a student's ability to abstract a common characteristic from two or three rows of pictures by selecting one picture in each row with that common characteristic. For example, the correct object to be selected in each row of pictures is an animal, while all the other pictures in the rows are not animals. This test has poor spatial ability loadings and is NOT included in the subtest recategorization below.

Matrix Reasoning: This subtest measures a student's ability to select the correct patterned unit design (from five alternative unit design patterns) which completes a matrix "grid" of boxed designs, one of which is missing [the box with ?]. The student points to the specific design he or she selects in the numbered response row, and the tester then records the number of that design on the record form. For example:

X X
? >
< > ^ V <
1 2 3 4 5

Matrix reasoning is the next best spatial ability subtest in terms of variance loadings and is included in the subtest recategorization below.

Picture Completion: This subtest measures a student's ability to work out what "bit" or "element" is missing in a particular picture. The series comprises 38 pictures. It measures visual closure in a context of recognition experience with the objects depicted. To a degree, this subtest is somewhat loaded with spatial ability and is included is that recategorization category below. It is a much better test than Picture Concepts.

WORKING MEMORY SCALE

Digit Span: This subtest measures a student's ability to auditorially remember series of spoken numbers (digits) and repeat them back, and so this subtest is dependent on sequencing memory for words, because numbers in this context are words: one, two, three, etc., and so it is included in the sequencing ability recategorization category below.

Letter-Number Sequencing: This subtest measures a student's ability to vocally re-sequence numbers in numerical order and letters in alphabetical order after being orally presented with a series of alternated numbers and letters. For example: Examiner says  2  C  5  K  and student responds  2  5  C  K. This test is included in the sequencing ability recategorization category below.

Arithmetic: This subtest measures a student's knowledge of mental arithmetic, which obviously was acquired in school or through home schooling. Mental arithmetic also involvers many sequencing skills so it is included in both the sequencing ability and acquired knowledge recategorization categories below.

PROCESSING SPEED SCALE (THIS SET OF SUBTESTS IS NOT USED IN MY RECATEGORIZATION)

Coding: This subtest measures a student's ability to memorize nine symbols and the arbitrary numerical associations with those symbols at speed. This test is NOT included in the recategorization categories below.

Symbol Search: This subtest measures a student's ability to decide whether the symbol presented by the examiner matches any of the set of printed symbols on the test page. Only a YES or NO answer is required for this timed test. This test is NOT included in the recategorization categories below.

Cancellation: This subtest requires a student to scan a long series of small colored pictures of many kinds of objects and mark only the animals with a pencil within a time limit. All round, though, it is a variance-poor test and is NOT included in the recategorization categories below.

__________

Picture Arrangement: This subtest is not used in the WISC IV at all.

Object Assembly: This subtest is not used in the WISC IV at all.

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BANNATYNE RECATEGORIZATION OF THE WISC IV SUBTESTS

School and clinical psychologists may wish to recategorize the WISC IV subtest scores in the following way in order to obtain a much more accurate picture of a student's verbal ability, spatial ability, sequencing ability and acquired knowledge. Note that this recategorization is primarily to assist you with the diagnosis of those students who have good spatial ability versus poor verbal and sequencing skills.

For Tim's diagnosis (see details earlier above) the following WISC IV Subtest Recategorization gives very much the same results in terms of Equivalent IQs.

VERBAL CONCEPTUALIZING ABILITY [VCA]

SUBTESTS

SCALED SCORE

TOTAL SCALED SCORES (3 Tests)

PRORATED FOR 10 TESTS (FSIQ Scale)

EQUIVALENT IQ SCORE FOR VCA

Comprehension

10

 

26

 

26 X 10/3 = 87

 

 

89

Similarities

8

Vocabulary

8

SPATIAL ABILITY [SPA]

SUBTESTS

SCALED SCORE

TOTAL SCALED SCORES (3 Tests)

PRORATED FOR 10 TESTS (FSIQ Scale)

EQUIVALENT IQ SCORE FOR SPA

Picture Completion

14

 

43

 

43 X 10/3 = 143

 

132

Block Design

15

Matrix Reasoning

14

SEQUENCING (MEMORY) ABILITY [SQA]

SUBTESTS

SCALED SCORE

TOTAL SCALED SCORES (3 Tests)

PRORATED FOR 10 TESTS (FSIQ Scale)

EQUIVALENT IQ SCORE FOR SQA

Digit Span

6

 

21

 

21 X 10/3 = 70

 

78

Arithmetic

7

Letter-Number Seq.

8

ACQUIRED KNOWLEDGE [ACK]

SUBTESTS

SCALED SCORE

TOTAL SCALED SCORES (3 Tests)

PRORATED FOR 10 TESTS (FSIQ Scale)

EQUIVALENT IQ SCORE FOR ACK

Information

6

 

21

 

21 X 10/3 = 70

 

78

Arithmetic

7

Vocabulary

8

RESEARCH USING THE WISC SUBTESTS

Please do NOT use the above Classification of the WISC Subtests for doing academic research on a heterogeneous group of learning disabled students because you will NOT get valid results. Using a mixed group of learning disabled students as a research sample will only give very mixed-up results and discover nothing. Unfortunately most research into the nature of Learning Disabilities has this fault. Having said that, I also want to say that SOME research workers in the Learning Disabilities field have used homogeneous samples and with careful sampling and good research designs, have done excellent research. The usefulness of my recategorization of the WISC subtests, in terms of student characteristics, has been confirmed by many fine research studies.

In fact my Recategorization of the WISC Subtests is, along with other tests, measures and observations, very useful for helping separate out the various homogeneous groups of student characteristics before deeper differential diagnostic research work is done. Examples of some more or less homogeneous groups of learning disability student characteristics would be, spatially competent learning disability characteristics (SCRD), verbally competent learning disability characteristics (VCLD), minimal neurological dysfunction learning disability characteristics (MND), limited English language learning disability characteristics (LEL), unmotivated student learning disability characteristics (UMV), and so on. For detailed information on these groups see the section STUDENT CHARACTERISTICS.

In this section on RESEARCH and in the section on STUDENT CHARACTERISTICS, I am NOT saying that all or most learning disability students have good Spatial Ability, and I have never said that in the past. I am also NOT saying that most people with good Spatial Ability have learning disabilities or are dyslexic. I AM saying that some learning disability students have good Spatial Ability intelligence (like Tim) and that we can use the WISC recategorization of the subtests (along with other diagnostic tests--see Tim's Diagnosis section above) to help sort out which ones. That is the purpose of DIAGNOSIS, a term which is much misunderstood by some educators and psychologists, who confuse it with broad generalized labeling. The purpose of diagnosis is to find out the details of the characteristics or symptoms of ONE learning disabled student (or, in medicine, an ill child) and precisely pinpoint the exact incapacitating condition and its exact causes. "Learning disabilities" and "reading disabilities," as collective general terms, are self-evident in that students are "failing" in the classroom, and research has shown that the best person to initially detect and refer (not diagnose) such learning disability students in any classroom is usually the teacher, just as the best person to make the initial detection that a child is ill is usually the mother or care-giver, while the doctor then proceeds to diagnose measles, polio, strep throat, encephalitis, etc., usually using a succession of diagnostic tests or procedures to pinpoint the specific nature (syndrome of characteristics) of the presenting illness, and then he or she recommends specific treatments.

I once wrote a letter to Cambridge University explaining that a 16 year old SCRD student of mine had a Spatial Ability IQ in the gifted range, but that he was dyslexic, and would they allow him to dictate his answers to the University Entrance Examination just like a blind student. I told them he wanted to be a geologist and that he could already tell me where on Earth any rock sample came from. They agreed!

There is a great need in the field of Learning Disabilities research to sort out the characteristics of Learning Disability students as described in the previous chapter, without pigeon-holing the students themselves. This needs to be done "by hand" by sorting and resorting all kinds of psychological, educational and psycholinguistic subtest results, just as the medical profession sort out the characteristics of various illnesses in order to define each illness more precisely. Some children have fevers, some don't. Some have tummy-aches, some don't. Some have coughs, some don't, etc., etc. Then, happily, we will end up with the "syndromes" or collections of characteristics outlined in Chapter 3. Even if you are doing brain scans please sort the Learning Disability students into categories of characteristics and remember (by analogy) that lots of different illnesses have a high fever! So it takes a lot more than one similarity to define a particular set of characteristics (or, for that matter, a medical syndrome).

CONTROL GROUPS: Also remember that when doing research studies that use nationally standardized tests like the WISC, the national sample used for the standardization is the Control group and, I might add, a far more valid Control group than most of the matched ones that are selected in much psychological and educational research. Journal editors and all reviewers of submitted research papers must realize that test standardizations usually (but not always) replace the need for a specific control group.

 

The Bannatyne Reading Program uses over eighty-eight techniques and is based on the results of studies and research findings. The Bannatyne Reading Program is unlike any other reading programs currently available. This means you will find many features which are only in the Bannatyne Reading Program. In some Commonwealth countries the program may be referred to as: Bannatyne Programme, or Bannatyne Reading Programme

Bannatyne Reading, Writing, Spelling and Language Program -- Copyright 2003-2005 Alexander Bannatyne, PhD

Last updated: August 8, 2005

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