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Common Assessments: What they Are and What we Use

Written by Bethany Todd, in collaboration with Ous Badwan.

Dr. Badwan provides clinical and assessment services tailored to the young child population through his practice at Birch Psychology. Learn more about Ous and Birch Psychology here


All assessments provide information about a child. They are valuable as we determine what each child needs. Below, you will find an overview of assessments you may hear about, in our office or within the academic arena. Based on regions or training, psychologists have preferences on which assessment they use. See below to learn more about what is frequently used in Denver and in our office.

At e.Merging, we believe that it is often beneficial for a family to examine a child’s educational profile including strengths, challenges and personalities in order to support his or her educational and relationship needs. We obtain this information through a variety of assessment results. This data empowers and guides parents to make school choices and parenting decisions. Through our collaborative relationship with Birch Psychology, we provide this service to families.

The assessments used at e.Merging are the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, Third Edition (WIAT-III), Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Fifth Edition (WISC-V), Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI-IV), Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA), and Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (Bracken). We also commonly use other specific academic area assessments, specific cognitive tests for memory and executive function, as well as informal forms of assessment such as classroom observation and teacher interviews. We believe that using a variety of assessments provides us with more of a whole picture of each child.  

In Denver, the most commonly used IQ assessment is WISC, however, this is a strong assessment for the typical student. Additional assessments become necessary when assessing students that have special differences. 


Key Information Regarding ALL Assessments

  1. Assessments are used to gain information about what a child knows or is capable of, not to judge the individual.
  2. Assessments do not measure the whole child. 
  3. Stop and think about your language surrounding assessments, especially when talking about them with your kids.
  4. The best preparation for assessments is to reduce stress by getting a good amount of sleep, eating well, and just playing.
  5. Building confidence is important.
  6. Assessments give us information about our children in order to help guide our decision-making.


A Brief Overview of Common Assessments 

IQ Tests

  • WISC – Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, developed by David Wechsler, is an individually administered intelligence test for children between the ages of 6 and 16. The Fifth Edition (WISC-V; Wechsler, 2014) is the most current version. The WISC is the counterpart to the DAS and WJ intelligence tests.
  • WPPSI – The Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence is an intelligence test designed for children ages 2 years 6 months to 7 years 7 months.
  • DAS  Differential Ability Scales,  is a cognitive and achievement assessment. It is individually administered to children ages 2 years 6 months to 17 years 11 months.
  • WJ Cognitive Assessment – Woodcock Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities is a set of intelligence tests, an alternative to the IQ test. It measures general ability. According to Dr. Badwan, many assessments such as the WJ Cognitive Assessment  vs. the WISC IQ Test aren’t “better” than the others; “it’s just another option.”   It is in its fourth edition since it was created in 1977. 

Achievement Assessments and Measures

  • WIAT – The Wechsler Individual Achievement Test–Third Edition (WIAT-III) is an achievement test. It is individually administered, testing oral language, reading, written language, and mathematics. It is the counterpart to the WJ test.
  • IQ TEST – Intelligence Quotient is a total score given from one of several standardized tests in order to assess human intelligence.
  • DRA – Developmental Reading Assessment measures students reading capability. It is administered individually and often used to assign students to a reading level or reading group with students in a similar level. The test measures fluency, accuracy, and comprehension.
  • BSRA – Bracken School Readiness Assessment is a cognitive test designed for children, pre-K through second grade. It is individually administered.

5 Reasons I like the Bracken
from Jen Rigsby at e.Merging 

  • This test gauges the child’s comprehension of basic facts. The Bracken covers material that is taught in all types of schools.
  • The information gleaned from the test allows parents and/or instructors to easily understand a child’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • On the Receptive Bracken, children only need to point to select answers. Therefore, if a child has a speech issue we can still see concept knowledge without the test scores being affected.
  • The test gives you an age equivalency which really lets you see how your child is doing compared to their peers.
  • The test takes under an hour to administer, yet it gives you a plethora of information.


Resources for Parents

National Association of School Psychologists: “Intellectual Ability and Assessment: A Primer for Parents and Educators”

“Intelligence, IQ, Tests, and Assessments: What Do Parents Need to Know? What Should They Tell Their Kids?”

“Understanding the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Fifth Edition”










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