In 1916, two French psychologists, named Binet and Simon, were asked by the government to figure out a way to determine which children were below average in intelligence. These men developed a test based on age and what would be expected at each age. So, if your child is five and can do all the items in the five year old scale, he/she would be considered “normal.” If your five year old wasn’t able to do any of the items on the five year old scale, he/she would be considered delayed. In this way, they could determine who should be placed in institutions for retarded children and who should not. Obviously, a lot has changed since then! (information from Stanford Binet IV manual)
Since then, the testing they developed has evolved and has been updated many times. In the more recent editions, they don’t focus as much on age criteria. They have developed a theory about a general foundation of intelligence that they call “g.” They really can’t describe it well and they have theorized about what it might include. For example, they have called one factor “Fluid Intelligence.” They then have tested this in a wide number of children and have figured out what would be considered average, above average or below average. This is all done using complicated statistics.
Here’s a little about the test:
- There is only one Stanford Binet test and it is used for ages 2-late adolescence/early adulthood
- The names on the subscales are different from on other tests and can’t be directly compared
Why chose the Stanford Binet?
Age is also a factor when choosing a test. The Stanford Binet was the only test that was able to be used with 2 year old children for a long time. People working in Early Intervention programs would use the Stanford Binet for this reason. They understood that an IQ for a 2 year old was not particularly accurate, but that they were able to compare one child’s development with another in order to provide help, if needed..
Sometimes, psychologists may choose specific tests because of the nature of the tasks themselves. Some materials are more appealing to certain ages of children. Some subtests are difficult to administer.
My personal preference is not to use the Stanford Binet except for young children. I prefer a test that has some specific connection with tasks that a child will have to actually accomplish. For example, I like to use a test that has some pencil and paper tasks, since those are definitely a part of a child’s school experience. I also like to use a test that has a test of complex language where a child has to explain things. This gives me some idea of how he/she will do in the language rich environment at school. Whenever possible, I like to have a test that will give more than a number, one that will help me develop a treatment strategy for the child I have tested.