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February 7, 2012

WJIII Diagnostic Supplement: GIA-Edev

WJIII Diagnostic

The WJIII Diagnostic Supplement provides 11 additional cognitive tests that together with the standard and extended Cognitive battery provide an additional 14 clusters.  Any number of those tests or clusters may prove useful when trying to tease out specific processing strengths and weaknesses.  However, when testing early childhood population the GIA-Edev provides the most broad ranged assessment of cognitive functioning than any other such test on the market.

Three tests from the standard battery combine with three tests from the supplemental battery to create the GIA-Edev.  The tests were chosen because they represent distinct CHC factors and they have a very low floor (meaning that they have adequate items for very young children).  The tests are as follows:

Standard Battery

  • Verbal Comprehension (Gc)
  • Incomplete Words (Ga)
  • Visual Matching (Gs)

Diagnostic Supplement

  • Visual Closure (Gv)
  • Memory for Names (Glr)
  • Memory for Words (Gsm)

The “missing” CHC factor is fluid reasoning (Gf) which is rather dicey to measure in very young children. For example, the WPPSI has measures of fluid reasoning for this population but the factor loadings of Picture Concepts and Matrix Reasoning suggest they may be measuring other factors just as much as fluid reasoning.  Also, the Stanford-Binet 5 has tests of fluid reasoning for young children but the floor is questionable for that age group.  The issue isn’t the tests so much as the fact that fluid reasoning (and executive functioning) are still emerging.  It is widely assumed that fluid reasoning development is linked to the maturation of the prefrontal cortex. At the very least aspects of fluid reasoning are enhanced by executive functioning.  For example, children make more errors related to intentional distractors which suggests that improved response inhibition can enhance fluid reasoning abilities. At any rate the WJIII does not attempt to measure Gf at the preschool age level.

While the GIA-Edev has measures of the other 6 CHC factors I would caution examiners that the visual matching test (processing speed) may be measuring aspects of the child’s behavior more than Gs.  All preschoolers suffer from the malady of childhood so often times you may be getting measures of inattention and impulsivity.  I have numerous anecdotes of children pausing in the middle to make a comment, holding their finger on the picture so the page can’t be turned quickly, or forgetting what they should be doing during the test (the page flip seems to wipe away their memory).

The advantages of the tests that make up the GIA-Edev include that they are based on CHC theory so you have a quick means of understanding and interpreting the scores.  It also has the RPI (relative proficiency index) score which gives a criterion referenced comparison to same aged peers instead of just relative standing.  Finally, one criticism of the GIA-Edev is that there are no manipulatives to engage the child in the task.  This is true.  However, that also means that the motor demands are very low which can be an advantage for some populations.

In summary the GIA-Edev can be a useful piece of an early childhood evaluation.  It has a broad range of tasks, a theory driven design, and easy administration with a single easel.  Taken together with other measures in a comprehensive evaluation (such as the BDI-2) the GIA-Edev can help yield useful information about a child’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses.