Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children ® - Fifth UK Edition (WISC-V UK) - Case Studies
Case Study 1
By Dr Melanie Adkins, Educational Psychologist
Brief Summary: The WISC®-VUK was used to measure the academic achievements and wider experience of David, a 12-year old child, who had sustained a brain injury in the past, following concerns by school staff that his skills had worsened.
David is a boy of 12 years and 6 months. He attends a mainstream secondary school for boys. David was referred to the Educational Psychology Service to explore the nature of some processing and physical difficulties observed by school staff.
David had a brain injury in the past and school staff were concerned that David’s skills had worsened recently. Staff were particularly concerned about David’s memory skills, fine and gross motor skills, and slow processing.
David is no longer under the specialist care team so school staff feel a responsibility to keep up to date with the nature of David’s difficulties and the impact of these on David’s academic achievements and wider experience of school.
When negotiating my role and ensuring the clarity of the function of my work, I suggested that any assessment work completed could also function as a baseline measure against which future progress could be measured.
I decided that my involvement would involve observations in several different curriculum areas, consultation with David and staff who had noticed the changes in David’s skills, and standardised assessment. I wanted to include consultations with parents to consider David’s behaviour and any changes noticed at home but I decided that the best time for this would be once the school-based work had been completed. We could then compare what had been noted and assessed at school to observations about home.
When considering an appropriate standardised assessment, the WISC-VUK felt entirely appropriate. The WISC-VUK with its new five models of interpretation offered me the possibility of exploring my hypothesis about changes to certain aspects of cognitive functioning without requiring David to complete subtests unnecessarily. Due to the nature of David’s difficulties it is essential not to put him through excessive testing sessions. This is one of the ethical considerations when working as an Educational Psychologist with students who have difficulties such as David’s.
Based on current Cognitive Neuroscientific and Neurodevelopmental conclusions about brain functioning, the new WISC-VUK assessment emphasises structural models of intelligence. The new structure acknowledges the separation and different functions of Fluid Reasoning and Visual Spatial Skills, as well as Processing Speed. The updated assessment presents these components as distinguishable aspects involved in problem solving. Assessment of individual discrete components is essential to be able to draw conclusions about David’s difficulties and to make recommendations as to appropriate ways to support him with these aspects. The WISC-VUK has also been developed to be used to test hypotheses about neuropsychological processing deficits. This makes the standardisation procedures appropriate for my assessment.
In addition to observations and consultations, I completed the subtests within the Visual Spatial, Fluid Reasoning and Processing Speed Scales. The five-factor model of interpretation allowed me to pinpoint the nature of David’s difficulties in the area of processing speed rather than the other areas assessed. David gained composite standard scores of 100 (95% Confidence Level (CL) 82-108 and 93-107 respectively, 50th percentile) for Visual Spatial skills and Fluid Reasoning.
I compared observations of David in his lessons with his ability to analyse and synthesise information, quantitative reasoning and induction, visual information processing and abstract reasoning skills measured in the subtests. Analysis of the scores within individual subtests provides further detailed information on David’s strengths and areas for development within these discrete areas.
The standardised assessment of David’s processing speed indicates that he has a difficulty within this area (composite score of 69, 95% Confidence Level 64-82, 2nd percentile). Once again, analysis of the individual subtests provides detailed information on the specific areas of strength and difficulty. David’s score for processing speed meets the criteria for reasonable adjustments to be made in normal working practice in the classroom and for formal assessments. The evidence from this standardised assessment can be used to support this application.
Although I do not have access to any standardised assessment that have been completed with David previously, this evidence is in-line with observations of David’s processing speed in the school environment. This assessment can be used to make future comparisons regarding David’s progress in the areas of processing speed, visual spatial and non-verbal fluid reasoning.
Case Study 2
By Dr Melanie Adkins, Educational Psychologist
Brief Summary: Anhar is a Year 4 child with refugee status and a diagnosis of Fragile X Syndrome. Dr Adkins felt that the non-verbal components of the WISC®-VUK would be appropriate in order to consider Anhar's needs and level of understanding without the unnecessary strain of the verbal scales.
Anhar is a Year 4 student who arrived at a mainstream primary school with refugee status. He is one of eight siblings, the majority of which are in one Primary School.
I was originally asked to complete an assessment of Anhar's special educational needs to make an urgent request for an assessment for an EHCP. Anhar has a diagnosis of Fragile X Syndrome and is accessing his education full-time via a small provision within the school with high staff-pupil ratio. The environment is specialist in terms of a mainstream school and caters for children with a variety of needs between Reception and Year 6.
Anhar does not have a high degree of English and completed a home language assessment at my request. When I negotiated the work, I was clear to outline the needs of the pupil and school, and the ethical considerations I abide by when completing work in schools. I discussed the importance of the home language assessment and the role of observation across different sessions to be completed. I planned this prior to any standardised work being completed with Anhar.
As a consequence of the inclusion of 13 special groups in the standardisation of the new WISC-VUK, I felt confident that I could use the non-verbal components in order to consider Anhar's needs and level of understanding without the unnecessary strain of the verbal scales.
The home language assessment provided insight into Anhar's speech, language and communication needs. The standardisation includes assessment of a group of young people with English as an Additional Language (EAL). Anhar is developing his knowledge and experience of English since joining school last year.
The completion of the Visual Spatial, Fluid Reasoning and Processing Speed scales provided detailed information that could be compared to the observations and conclusions made following consultations with Anhar and those who know him best at this time.
The development of the new WISC-VUK has enhanced clinical utility. Practical considerations around the language used in instructions and answers has been modified according to the needs of younger groups of children than those for whom the assessment is designed. This process of evaluation is important in helping me to feel confident that the level of language required to access the non-verbal subtests is appropriate for Anhar and will not cause him any undue stress.
I also found that the modified discontinuation rules also support any conclusions around appropriateness for Anhar. The pace of the standardised assessment was fast and maintained Anhar's attention for the duration of the tasks completed.
At the end of the assessment session, I felt confident that I had gained an appropriate picture of Anhar's strengths and areas for development following the completion of the whole process. Completion of the standardised assessment also provides a baseline against which Anhar's future progress and attainment can be measured and evaluated.