I’ve been getting some interesting emails from a reader who lives in Southern Eastern Ontario. He and his wife decided to move out to the country because they love being close to nature, but there are no PhD parents in the area, so their ten-year-old daughter is attending school with a lot of academically low performers.  He is concerned about how this well affect her development, and so he wants to have her IQ tested to see what he can reasonably expect from her.  Because the school board only does assessments in extreme cases, he has decided to pursue private testing.

My advice to him was to contact someone who routinely administers the WISC-V IQ test.  If the psychologist offers to administer the WISC-IV, WISC-III, WISC-R, or heaven forbid, the original 1949 WISC, they are obviously using obsolete instruments and thus not up to speed.

He contacted one psychologist who appeared competent in giving the WISC-V, but this person was charging an astonishing $1000 to do so!  What an idiot I was to not get into graduate school!  I could have been following my passion for IQ and earning $1000 every time I gave the Wechsler, which is such a fascinating test, I would give it everyday for free!

Although I was happy to see the “free market” has placed so much value on the Wechsler scales, I told the reader $1000 was way too much money just to determine his daughter’s IQ.  He probably already has an intuitive sense of how smart she is just from observing her behavior for the past decade, so getting a precise scientific number is not going to change much.  Indeed, even the most famous IQ proponent. Arthur Jensen, was a huge believer that one’s IQ should not be known by yourself, or authority figures like parents and teachers, except in extreme cases where one is suffering from anxiety about their intelligence.  He felt the best way to determine if you’re capable of succeeding in a given domain is to go out and try.

The reader  asked whether I could suggest cheaper options like online testing.  I replied:

I think online tests are good enough measures of intelligence, but the problem is they are not well normed, and especially not for children, so I can’t recommend any.

I’m not an expert on parenting, but common sense suggests that a sympathetic peer and family environment can make a huge difference. If the schools in your area are not very challenging, I would supplement her education by giving her home assignments, such as insisting she do a book report for you to grade, once a month (or more). Allow her to choose the books herself so she can pursue subjects that interest her and thus develop a love for learning while acquiring knowledge in subjects she is passionate about.

The fact that her classmates have low IQs could even be positive because it will make it easier for her to rise to the top of the class, which will give her great academic confidence. And being forced to relate to duller children could be good for her social skills.

He thanked me for my advice and offered to send me some homemade food (one of the perks of being a celebrity is people are always offering you free stuff). I politely declined and did not hear from him in over a month.

And then the other day he sent me another email. It seems that now the psychologists want his daughter to take an education test in addition to the WISC-V, and that the entire process will cost $2000! They feel the WISC-V alone will not provide enough information.

Can anyone offer him some advice?