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Complete coverage of the extended and revised popular cognitive assessment test for children ages 2 years, 6 months to 7 years, 3 months

Essentials of WPPSI(TM)-III Assessment offers state-of-the-art instructions for administering, scoring, and interpreting the revised and updated edition of this widely used cognitive assessment instrument for preschool children. Coverage includes insight into every revision of the WPPSI(TM)-III. Clear interpretive guidelines help WPPSI(TM)-III users navigate through the scores from fourteen subtests, seven of which are new. The authors highlight common clinical applications of the WPPSI(TM)-III, such as assessment of language disorders, giftedness, and mental retardation. In addition, the authors provide expert guidance on how to perform cross-battery analysis to link WPPSI(TM)-III results with achievement measures, such as the WIAT-II.

Like all the volumes in the Essentials of Psychological Assessment series, this book is designed to help busy mental health professionals quickly acquire the knowledge and skills they need to make optimal use of a major psychological assessment instrument. Each concise chapter features numerous callout boxes highlighting key concepts, bulleted points, and extensive illustrative material, as well as "Test Yourself" questions that help you gauge and reinforce your understanding of the information covered.

Complete with new clinical studies and applications, Essentials of WPPSI(TM)-III Assessment provides comprehensive coverage of test administration, scoring, and interpretation of this widely used test battery.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471288954
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 11/28/2003
  • Series: Essentials of Psychological Assessment Series , #42
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 324
  • Sales rank: 1,049,668
  • Product dimensions: 5.53 (w) x 8.58 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

ELIZABETH O. LICHTENBERGER, PHD, is on staff at the Salk Institute.

ALAN S. KAUFMAN, PHD, is on the faculty at Yale University. He is the series editor for the Essentials of Psychological Assessment and worked with David Wechsler on the development of many of his assessment instruments.

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Read an Excerpt

Essentials of WPPSI-III Assessment

By Elizabeth O. Lichtenberger Alan S. Kaufman

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-471-28895-0

Chapter One


Despite the plethora of IQ tests available for psychologists to use today, the Wechsler instruments remain the most widely used measures of intelligence for children, adolescents, and adults. Much has been written on these measures over the years, from clinical use of the scales to esoteric statistical procedures for interpreting the profiles that they yield. Our goal for this book is to provide an easy reference source for those who use the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence-Third Edition (WPPSI-III; The Psychological Corporation, 2002). This book was developed for those who test children within the 2-1/2 to 7-year age range and wish to learn the essentials of the WPPSI-III in a direct, no-nonsense, systematic manner. The main topics covered include administration, scoring, interpretation, and clinical use of the instrument. Important points are highlighted throughout the book by Rapid Reference boxes, Caution boxes, and Don't Forget boxes. Each chapter contains questions that are intended to help you consolidate what you have read. After reading this book, you will have, at your fingertips, in-depth information that will help you to become a competent WPPSI-III examiner and clinician.


Although interest in testing intelligence developed in the latter half of the 19th century, theassessment of preschool-age children is a relative newcomer in the history of testing (Kelley & Surbeck, 2000). In the early 1900s, the majority of tests were developed for school-age children, leaving a hole in the area of preschool measures.

Shortly after the end of the 19th century, Alfred Binet and his colleagues developed tasks to measure the intelligence of children within the Paris public schools (Binet & Simon, 1905). Binet's tasks were primarily language oriented, emphasizing judgment, memory, comprehension, and reasoning. In the 1908 revision of his scale, Binet included age levels ranging from 3 to 13 years; and in its next revision in 1911, the Binet-Simon scale was extended to age 15 and included five ungraded adult tests (Kaufman, 1990a). Kuhlmann (1912, 1914) published two versions of the Binet scales, the second of which extended test items downward to assess intelligence beginning at 2 months of age. Although the versions of intelligence tests published by Kuhlmann (1914), Yerkes and Foster (1923), and Burt (1921) increased attention to assessment of preschoolers, these early tests were methodologically lacking (Stott & Ball, 1965).

Gesell (1925) subsequently undertook a seminal study in child development. Children were examined at 10 age levels - birth, 4, 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, and 60 months. Although precise methodology was not used, the study yielded "developmental schedules" across four areas: motor development, language development, adaptive behavior, and personal-social behavior. The developmental profiles derived from Gesell's work were subsequently used in the development of tests for infants and preschoolers.

Key assessment instruments for measurement of infant and preschool development were published in the first half of the 20th century. Most notable were the Merrill-Palmer Scale of Mental Tests (Stutsman, 1931), the Minnesota Preschool Scale (Goodenough, 1926; Goodenough, Maurer, & Van Wagenen, 1940), the California First Year Mental scale (Bayley, 1933), and the Iowa Test for Young Children (Fillmore, 1936). These early infant and preschool tests focused more on mental and physical growth than on intelligence.

The 1940s saw many new tests published for infant and preschool assessment, most notably the Cattell Infant Intelligence Scale (Cattell, 1940), the Northwest Infant Intelligence Scale (Gilliland, 1948), the Leiter International Performance Scale (Leiter, 1948), and the Full Range Picture Vocabulary Test (Ammons & Ammond, 1948). Although these tests made unique contributions to the field of preschool assessment (e.g., the Leiter was a non-language, allegedly culture-free test and the Full Range Picture Vocabulary tests had high reliability and validity), the Stanford-Binet continued to be the most widely used test of mental ability (Goodenough, 1949).

The Stanford-Binet, however, had some major competition after David Wechsler's tests entered the playing field in the mid-1930s. Wechsler's approach combined his strong clinical skills and statistical training with his extensive experience in testing, gained initially as a World War I examiner. Wechsler weighted verbal and nonverbal abilities equally, an innovative idea at that time. Wechsler's goal was to create a battery that would yield dynamic clinical information from his chosen set of tasks. This focus went well beyond the earlier use of tests simply as psychometric tools. Wechsler's first test for children, the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC; Wechsler, 1949), was a downward extension of Form II of the Wechsler Bellevue (Wechsler, 1946) and covered the age range of 5-15 years. Years later, the WISC became one of the most frequently used tests in the measurement of preschool functioning (Stott & Ball, 1965), although it was not able to be used with children below age 5. The practice of using tests designed for school-aged children in assessing preschoolers was criticized because of the level of difficulty for young children; nonetheless, the downward extension of tests designed for school-aged children was common practice prior to the development of tests specifically geared for children under age 5 (Kelley & Surbeck, 2000).

The primary focus of the testing movement prior to the 1960s was the assessment of children in school and of adults entering the military (Parker, 1981). However, in the 1960s, the U.S. federal government began to play a role in education, and this involvement spurred growth in the testing of preschool children. The development of government programs such as Head Start focused attention on the need for effective program evaluation and the adequacy of preschool assessment instruments (Kelley & Surbeck, 1991). In 1967 the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI) was developed to meet the growing need of how to evaluate programs such as Head Start. The WPPSI was basically developed as a downward extension of many of the WISC subtests, but it provided simpler items and an appropriately aged standardization sample. Unfortunately, the WPPSI accommodated the narrow 4- to 6 1/2-year age range, failing to meet the needs of program evaluations because most of the new programs were for ages 3 to 5 years.

Shortly after the WPPSI, the McCarthy Scales of Children's Abilities (MSCA; McCarthy, 1972) was published. The McCarthy was based on normative data gathered on 1,032 children ages 2 1/2 through 8 1/2 years. The unique features of the McCarthy made it valuable for the assessment of children with learning problems or other exceptionalities. The McCarthy yielded not only a general measure of intellectual functioning but also a profile of abilities including verbal ability, nonverbal reasoning, number aptitude, short-term memory, and motor coordination.

Public Law 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, played an important role in the continued development of cognitive assessment instruments. This law and its followers (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA], IDEA of 1991, and IDEA Amendments in 1997) included provisions requiring that an individualized education program (IEP) be developed and maintained for each disabled child (Kelley & Surbeck, 2000). A key feature of the development of the IEP is the evaluation and diagnosis of each child's level of functioning. Thus, these laws directly affected the continued development of standardized tests such as the WPPSI. The WPPSI has had two revisions - one in 1989 and its most recent in 2002. The Don't Forget box on page 5 shows the history of Wechsler's scales.


Historically, the concept of intelligence has been difficult to define, and even today it remains elusive (Flanagan, Genshaft, & Harrison, 1997). Wechsler's (1944) conception of intelligence as "the capacity to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with his [or her] environment" (p. 3) provided the foundation of all Wechsler tests, including the current editions. Practical and clinical perspectives were the cornerstone of Wechsler's tests rather than theory per se (except, perhaps, for Spearman's g or general intelligence theory). However, test developers at The Psychological Corporation created some of the newest WPPSI-III subtests to update the test's theoretical foundations. The origin of each of the WPPSI-III subtests is shown in Rapid Reference 1.1.

Like the WISC-III and WAIS-III, the third edition of the WPPSI contains subtests that were designed to tap more specific theoretically-based abilities, such as processing speed and fluid reasoning. Fluid reasoning is a specific cognitive ability that has been emphasized by several theorists (Carroll, 1997; Cattell, 1941, 1963; Cattell & Horn, 1978; Horn & Noll, 1997). Fluid reasoning tasks involve the process of "manipulating abstractions, rules, generalization, and logical relationships" (Carroll, 1993, p. 583). Three new subtests were added to the WPPSI-III to enhance the measurement of fluid reasoning: Matrix Reasoning, Word Reasoning, and Picture Concepts. Carroll (1993) and other theorists (e.g., Horn & Noll, 1997) also identified processing speed as an important domain of cognitive functioning. Thus, two new subtests measuring processing speed were added to the WPPSI-III battery, namely Symbol Search and Coding.

Although the newest version of the WPPSI has increased its emphasis on the importance of theoretical foundations, originally Wechsler believed that IQ tests offered a way to peer into an individual's personality. Since the development of the Wechsler scales, extensive theoretical speculations have been made about the nature and meaning of these tests and their scores (Kaufman, 1990a, 1994b), but originally the tests were developed without regard to theory. The Wechsler tests are strongly supported as measures of general intelligence (g; e.g., Kaufman, 1994b), but - as we show throughout this book - much more can be gleaned from the Wechsler scales than simply an understanding of a child's level of g.

Wechsler made a major contribution to the fields of cognitive and clinical assessment with his inclusion of both Verbal and Performance Scales on his tests. The dual-scaled tests went against the conventional wisdom of his time. In the 1930s and 1940s, it didn't make sense to most examiners to waste their time administering a lengthy nonverbal subtest when a quick verbal subtest could glean just as much data. However, now it is obvious to clinicians and researchers alike that Verbal and Performance both have critical value for understanding brain functioning and theoretical distinctions between fluid and crystallized intelligence. In addition, because Wechsler stressed the clinical value of intelligence tests, this innovative approach provided a new layer to the psychometric, statistical emphasis of testing that accompanied the use and interpretation of earlier tests such as the Stanford-Binet. Finally, Wechsler's inclusion of a multiscore subtest profile (as well as three IQs instead of one) met the needs of the emerging field of learning disabilities assessment in the 1960s to such an extent that Wechsler's scales replaced the Stanford-Binet as king of IQ during that decade. It has maintained that niche ever since.


Children are assessed for a variety of reasons; thus, the WPPSI-III may be applied in many different situations. Typically, children are referred by a teacher for a psychological evaluation to determine whether they are eligible for an educationally related disability and special education or other special services. Some of the most common reasons that a child is referred for an assessment include diagnosing for developmental delay, learning disabilities, mental retardation, behavioral problems, neuropsychological impairments, or giftedness. Often, the end goal of a child's assessment is to create effective interventions. The number of children ages 3 to 5 years in the United States who were served in federally supported programs for persons with disabilities (including specific learning disabilities, mental retardation, developmental delay, and other disabilities) numbered nearly 600,000 in 1999-2000 (U.S. Department of Education, 2001). The settings in which these assessments take place are varied and include psychologists' private practices, schools, clinics, hospitals, and research programs.

As mentioned earlier, the Wechsler scales remain by far the most popular test for children (Daniel, 1997). In a survey of school psychologists who assess children to identify mental retardation, the Wechsler scales were the most frequently used tests for deriving IQs (Woodrich & Barry, 1991). Even in assessing children with bilingual and limited-English students, the WISC-R and WISC-III were reported to be the most frequently used measures (Ochoa, Powell, & Robles-Pina, 1996). School psychologists rated the Wechsler scales as most useful and as actually used the most (Giordano, Schwiebert, & Brotherton, 1997), and in another survey of school psychologists, the WISC-III was reportedly used 10 times per month, whereas the next most frequently used test (of 11 listed) was used only twice (Wilson & Reschly, 1996). Because of the Wechsler scales' popularity throughout the years, the WPPSI and WPPSI-R have remained strong forces in the assessment of preschool-aged children, and the WPPSI-III is sure to follow suit.


The WPPSI-III is a measure of cognitive functioning of children from ages 2 years, 6 months (2-6) to 7 years, 3 months (7-3). Its age range is divided into two age bands (2-6 to 3-11 and 4-0 to 7-3), each with its own battery of subtests. Like its predecessors, the WPPSI-III offers a Verbal IQ (V-IQ), Performance IQ (P-IQ), and Full Scale IQ (FS-IQ). However, departing from the previous versions of the WPPSI, the WPPSI-III adds a General Language Composite (GLC) and - for the older age band - a Processing Speed Quotient (PSQ) to the three familiar IQs. Like the IQs, the GLC and PSQ are standard scores with a mean of 100 and standard deviation of 15. Mainly motor responses are required on the Performance scale (pointing, placing, or drawing), and spoken responses are usually required on the Verbal scale.

For each age band, WPPSI-III subtests are categorized as core, supplemental, or optional. Core subtests are those that comprise the V-IQ, P-IQ, and FS-IQ. The composition of the scales for each age group is presented in Figures 1.1 and 1.2.


Excerpted from Essentials of WPPSI-III Assessment by Elizabeth O. Lichtenberger Alan S. Kaufman Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Series Preface.

One: Overview.

Two: How to Administer the WPPSI-III.

Three: How to Score the WPPSI-III.

Four: How to Interpret the WPPSI-III.

Five: Strengths and Weaknesses of the WPPSI-III.

Six: Clinical Applications of the WPPSI-III.

Seven: Illustrative Case Reports.

Appendix A: WPPSI-III Interpretation Worksheet.

Appendix B: Abilities Shared by Two or More WPPSI-III Verbal and Performance Subtests for Children Ages 4-0 to 7-3.

Appendix C: Abilities Shared by Two or More WPPSI-III Verbal and Performance Subtests for Children Ages 2-6 to 3-11.


Annotated Bibliography.


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