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WISC Scores, Changing Programs, and Divorce

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Noreen H. Joslyn, LISW, ACSW

Q: My first-grader scored 155 on the Wechsler test this year. Where does this place him statistically? Are we doing him a disservice by keeping him at a school that does not separate out the "gifted" from the "non-gifted"? It's a wonderful school and all his friends are there, but we also see him not being challenged in school even though his teachers know how smart he is. He gets bored more and more frequently, so we try to make up for it at home by doing interesting projects, reading interesting books, etc.

I don't know if skipping a grade or moving schools would be good for him at this stage, since his father and I got divorced about a year and a half ago. We've worked so hard on making as many things in his life as continuous and stable as possible to help him with the huge transition. Please help!

A: If your little guy scored 155 on a Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, then he is indeed very gifted. I looked up some data for you on IQ tests. Approximately 68 percent of the population would score in the average range (85-115). An IQ of 150-159 occurs in the top 0.2 percent (or two-tenths of one percent) of the population. While a person can score low "on purpose," you can't fake a high score. Actually, your son has gone as high as he can on the WISC test because it has a score ceiling. At this point, you could consider a Stanford-Binet LM, which is another IQ test with a higher ceiling to see if he is even more exceptional.

Now as for your other concerns, I know that many gifted persons have had a successful outcome from attending a regular school program. However, your son's boredom is not suprising. Many schools today teach to the middle level of the student population. Unless your state has mandated gifted education -- and almost half do -- they do not have to provide special services for your son. If gifted education is available, I always say parents should seek it out. You and his dad should meet with the school district -- scores in hand -- and see what they can offer your son, now and in the years to come.

Check out other schools in your area as well. I realize your son has had many changes in the last two years, but if a school change is needed, it's better now than a few years down the road, when he might not be performing in school due to extreme boredom. Six-year-olds can be fairly flexible. I would also suggest you and Dad read The Survival Guide for Parents of Gifted Kids by Sally Y. Walker. It has many helpful suggestions. Good luck.

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Noreen Joslyn is a licensed independent social worker in the state of Ohio and is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. She has a master's degree in Social Work, specializing in family and children, from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a psychiatric social worker in private practice with Ken DeLuca, Ph.D. & Associates, where she counsels parents and children.


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