Disadvantages of using the Stanford-Binet Version 5

I tried to sell my Stanford-Binet Fifth Edition through the Australian Psychological Society last month, but no-one even gave me a call to negotiate the price. Perhaps it is a good thing that I was forced to keep it, as I sometimes use it with adults. But I don’t think I will be using it very much with children anymore.
Why? Let me go back a bit: When I completed my post graduate diploma in psychology I had to make a very difficult decision: What assessment tool or tools I should invest in for my gifted consultancy. At the same time I was excited. This was the moment I had been waiting for: Only qualified psychologists can administer or purchase IQ tests, and I was finally qualified. I wanted to be sure that I had the best tools available for assessing gifted children, and a mistake could be expensive – these tools are worth several thousand dollars each.

The choice finally boiled down to either the WISC IV AND WPPSI III to cover all ages up to 16, OR the Stanford-Binet Fifth Edition (SB5) (ages 2-90) as my start-up kit. These tests had all been recently released, had been adjusted for the Flynn effect, had undergone major revisions, and they were all normed to American children. As they were new, there was no research available to help me make an informed decision. The old Stanford-Binet Form L-M had been the preferred option for gifted children in the past, but was no longer available.

I decided on a compromise: I would purchase a WISC IV and also the SB5. This meant that I would have to use the SB5 with younger children. But it didn’t work that way: I found myself turning down clients who wanted to have their little ones tested, as I felt uncomfortable about only being able to offer the SB5 without an alternative.

Some time after my purchases, the WISC IV and WPPSI III Australian Standardised editions were released. These were normed to Australian children, and my WISC IV was automatically replaced by the supplier with the Australian version. Until this point the Departmental schools had continued to use the old Wechsler Australian normed versions. After the new release, the schools made their purchases of the Australian normed WISC IV and WPPSI III. SB5 was never normed to Australian children, and therefore was not the test of choice for the Department.

But what is the relevance of this to gifted children and my purchases? Well, a few parents who had read about the Stanford-Binet Form L-M test (and how it was the best test for gifted children) specifically requested the SB5 for the assessment of their children, and I obliged. However, hardly any time passed before they would call and ask how they could “translate” the results to the Wechsler test equivalent, despite my inclusion of reassurances in their reports. Apparently their children’s schools were reluctant to accept the results. Since then I have recommended against using the SB5, and will continue to do so.

My only exception will be in the few cases where a child will reach the “ceiling” on a Wechsler test. In those few cases I would recommend a re-take with the SB5. This is because it has an Extended IQ that can calculate scores higher than IQ160 (the ceiling for both Wechsler tests and the SB5). With the SB5 Extended IQ, scores can be calculated up to IQ225. But there is only a slight chance I will see such a child, as there are approximately 62 Australians with FSIQ above 160 across all ages. Besides, timed tests have been kept to a minimum in the new Wechsler tests, one of the problems for gifted children, and a previous difference between the two types of tests. And as for the argument that SB5 is better at measuring fluid intelligence, the new Wechsler tests have added three measures of fluid intelligence: Matrix Reasoning, Word Reasoning, and Picture Concepts. Perhaps now you can see why I wanted to sell my SB5. Oh, and I nearly forgot to add that I invested in a WPPSI III for the little ones over a year ago, and I haven’t looked back since.

Post-Script: since I wrote this blog, Wechsler has released their own Extended Norms Technical Report #7, in order to calculate IQ scores over 160, narrowing the choices even further. MW