The opinion of the court was delivered by: Grady, District Judge.
This case presents the question whether standard
intelligence tests administered by the Chicago Board of
Education are culturally biased against black children. The
action is brought on behalf of all black children who have
been or will be placed in special classes for the educable
mentally handicapped ("EMH") in the Chicago school system. The
defendants are the Chicago Board of Education and its officers
responsible for administration of the relevant programs. The
named plaintiffs are two black children who were placed in EMH
classes after achieving low scores on standard intelligence
The Illinois school code requires classes for the educable
mentally handicapped, who are defined as:
. . children between the ages of 3 and 21 years
who because of retarded intellectual development
as determined by individual psychological
evaluation are incapable of being educated
profitably and efficiently through ordinary
classroom instruction but who may be expected to
benefit from special education facilities
designed to make them economically useful and
Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 122, § 14-1.04 (1977).
There are 483,209 children enrolled in the Chicago public
school system. Of those, 299,590, or 62 per cent, are black.
For the 1978-79 school year, 13,225 children were enrolled in
EMH classes. Of these, 10,833, or 82 per cent, were black. Of
the 106,581 white children enrolled in the system, 1,404 were
attending EMH classes. Three and 7/10 per cent of all black
students enrolled in the system are in EMH, whereas only 1.3
per cent of the white students are in EMH.
The EMH curriculum is designed for the child who cannot
benefit from the regular curriculum. It is designed for
children who learn slowly, who have short attention spans,
slow reaction time and difficulty retaining material in both
the short term and the long term. The curriculum also
recognizes the difficulty an EMH child has in
seeing similarities and differences, in learning by
implication, in generalizing and in thinking abstractly. The
curriculum thus involves much repetition and concrete
teaching. Subjects are taught for short periods of time, in
recognition of the children's short attention spans. The
subject matter of the EMH courses is oriented toward
socialization, language skills and vocational training.
Academic subjects are taught, but on an elementary level and
with the objective of helping the child become economically
independent. The assumption of the EMH curriculum is that the
child will not go on to college, and, in fact, children who
graduate from EMH programs in the Chicago school system are
given special diplomas which do not qualify them for college
These characteristics of the EMH program were described by
plaintiffs' witness Dale Layman, a professor at the University
of Illinois who specializes in training special education
teachers and designing special education curricula. Dr. Layman
had no argument with the EMH curriculum in Chicago, and
believes it is well suited for EMH pupils. She testified that
the underlying assumptions about the learning abilities of EMH
students are valid, and that it is not realistic to expect a
child who is genuinely retarded to be able to cope with the
Dr. Layman and several other witnesses testified about the
social stigma which attaches to a child who is assigned to a
classroom for the retarded. While the teachers and school
administrators attempt in various ways to protect the
children, the evidence establishes without doubt that EMH
pupils suffer from feelings of inferiority and that the label
they receive in school often follows them throughout their
An erroneous assessment of mental retardation, leading to an
inappropriate placement of a child in an EMH class, is clearly
an educational tragedy. However beneficial such classes may be
for those who truly need them, they are likely to be almost
totally harmful to those who do not. The two named plaintiffs
in this case are examples of what can happen. Each of these
children had learning disabilities but was erroneously
diagnosed as being mentally retarded. Each of them scored low
on a standard intelligence test administered as part of the
assessment process. The two plaintiffs were assigned to EMH
classes, where they spent several years. As a result of a
belated re-evaluation, it was determined that these two
children were not mentally retarded but rather were children
in the normal range of intelligence whose learning was
hampered by disabilities which are remediable.
The two named plaintiffs claim that their misassessment as
retarded children was caused by racial bias in the standard
intelligence tests they took, causing them to achieve low
scores. It is claimed on behalf of the two named plaintiffs
and the class they represent, consisting of all black children
in the Chicago school system who are or might be assigned to
EMH classes, that the use of racially biased intelligence
tests in EMH placement violates the Equal Protection Clause of
the Fourteenth Amendment as well as various federal
statutes.*fn1 Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive
relief. The principal relief sought is a permanent injunction
against the use of standard IQ tests in the evaluation of
black children for EMH placement.
It will be helpful at this point to indicate the
organization of this opinion. The early sections will be
devoted to a description of the factual contentions of the
parties and an extensive description of the specific items on
the three intelligence tests which are in issue. I will in
some instances comment upon the merits of the parties'
respective positions during the course of these descriptions,
but generally I will save the statement of my own conclusions
until later, infra at p. 872 et seq.*fn2
The disagreement between the parties can be summarized
briefly. It has been known since the early days of standard
intelligence tests, around the time of World War I, that
blacks as a group score about one standard deviation — 15
points — lower than whites. On the Stanford-Binet test, for
instance, the mean white score is 100 and the mean black score
is 85. While there is no disagreement as to the existence of
this phenomenon, there is considerable disagreement about what
The psychologists who developed the Stanford-Binet test in
this country, Terman, Yerkes and Goddard, believed that they
were measuring innate mental abilities which were not subject
to change. This was their concept of "intelligence." They
explained the relatively poor performance of blacks, as well
as that of many other groups such as recent immigrants to this
country from southern and eastern Europe, on the basis of
The genetic view had wide acceptance among psychologists for
a time, but it lost ground in the light of studies which
showed that IQ scores were in fact not constant but were
subject to change. The genetic view never did take account of
the fact that many blacks scored above the white mean, but
this seems to have been overlooked. However, it was more
difficult to overlook the fact that northern blacks scored
higher on the average than southern whites, and that blacks
who moved north often experienced an increase in their IQ
scores. Black infants adopted by white families tended to
achieve IQ scores in later years which correlated highly with
the scores of the natural children of the adoptive parents.
The current view of most psychologists is that IQ tests
measure something which is changeable rather than something
that is fixed for all time, something which can be increased
and improved. The parties in this case agree on that much.
Dr. George Albee, a Professor of Psychology at the
University of Vermont, was another witness for the plaintiffs
who stated a similar view. He testified that the IQ tests
measure a child's "sharing of the dominant white culture."
Poor performance by a black child simply indicates his lack of
exposure to white culture. It denotes nothing about the
intellectual functioning of the child.
Defendants contend that the tests measure the child's
current level of abilities which correlate significantly with
his prospects of succeeding in school. Two school
psychologists, Dr. Terrence Hines and Mr. Elmer Smith,
testified for defendants that the IQ tests afford an
indication of the areas of the child's mental strengths and
weaknesses. According to Mr. Smith, who has a masters degree
in psychology from Northwestern University and some 30 years
experience as a school psychologist, the tests give an
indication of the child's ability to retain factual
information, to attend, to concentrate, to formulate new
associative learning, and to perform simple arithmetic
processes. These abilities are called for by the regular
school curriculum, and accordingly the test results have some
predictive value. Defendants' witnesses concede a slight
amount of cultural bias in the tests but deny that this
results in erroneous placements or deprives the tests of their
usefulness. They point out that a diagnosis of retardation is
not based solely upon an IQ score but upon a combination of
relevant factors. These witnesses also emphasized that the IQ
score affords a criterion that is relatively objective. They
fear that, lacking the student's score on a standardized test,
they would be forced to make the assessment upon a largely
This testimony, standing alone, does not preponderate in
either direction. I have seen cases in which one set of
experts is clearly more credible than the other and will, by
their demeanor, appearance, credentials, and the
reasonableness of their testimony, carry the day. This is not
such a case. None of the witnesses in this case has so
impressed me with his or her credibility or expertise that I
would feel secure in basing a decision simply upon his or her
opinion. In some instances, I am satisfied that the opinions
expressed are more the result of doctrinaire commitment to a
preconceived idea than they are the result of scientific
inquiry. I need something more than the conclusions of the
witnesses in order to arrive at my own conclusions.*fn3
Plaintiffs produced only one witness who made any attempt to
demonstrate racial or cultural bias in specific test items.
This was Dr. Robert Williams, whose testimony we will discuss
in detail at a later point in this opinion. The other
plaintiffs' witnesses who expressed the opinion that the tests
are biased did not attempt to demonstrate or illustrate their
point by any reference to specific items on any test.
It is obvious to me that I must examine the tests themselves
in order to know what the witnesses are talking about. I do
not see how an informed decision on the question of bias could
be reached in any other way. For me to say that the tests are
either biased or unbiased without analyzing the test items in
detail would reveal nothing about the tests but only something
about my opinion of the tests.
Plaintiffs were ambivalent in their attitude toward the need
to analyze the specific test items. On the one hand, they
recognized the relevance of such an inquiry by presenting Dr.
Williams' testimony concerning bias in particular test items.
However, he testified about only a few of them. None of the
attorneys for plaintiffs nor the attorneys for the Department
of Justice were prepared to discuss specific test items during
the day-long oral arguments at the conclusion of the case,
even though I had indicated long before the conclusion of the
evidence that I felt analysis of specific test items was
essential to a proper understanding and decision of the case.
I am not satisfied that any of the dozen or so attorneys who
participated in the trial of the case have even read the
tests. In response to a direct inquiry during final argument,
some of them admitted they had not and the rest said they had
"at one time, but not recently." Plaintiffs' attorneys, as
well as one attorney for defendants, stated that they felt it
was unnecessary to look at the tests.
I have said enough to indicate my belief that an analysis of
the tests is essential. I will now proceed to that task.
Plaintiffs' criticism of specific test items will be discussed
as we go along.
Three tests are challenged in this case. They are the three
intelligence tests most often used in the assessment of mental
retardation in the Chicago public school system. Most children
referred for evaluation are given one or two of these tests,
and the one most frequently given is the Wechsler Intelligence
Scale for Children, Revised. This is known as the "WISC-R."
The test is divided into twelve sub-tests, and each sub-test
consists of a series of similar items of increasing
difficulty. There are suggested starting points for children
of different ages, and if a child answers the initial items
for his age correctly, he is given credit for all items prior
to that level. If a child is unable to answer the items for
his age, the examiner goes backwards in the sub-test until he
finds the child's level of performance. If a child is
suspected of mental retardation, the test instructions require
that the examiner start with the first item in each sub-test.
In some evaluations only ten of the twelve sub-tests are used,
but when a child is suspected of retardation all twelve are
The first sub-test on the WISC-R is "Information." Items 1
through 4 are suggested for ages 6 and 7. These four questions
are as follows:
1. (The examiner, showing the child his thumb,
asks) "What do you call this finger?"
2. "How many ears do you have?"
3. "How many legs does a dog have?"
4. "What must you do to make water boil?"
The acceptable "responses" for the first three questions are
"thumb," "two," "four," and, for No. 4, "heat it . . . put it
on the stove . . . put fire under it . . turn the stove
on . . . cook it (or any such response indicating that the
water must be heated.")
Questions 5 and 6 on the Information sub-test are the
suggested starting points for 8 to 10 year olds. These
5. How many pennies make a nickel?
6. What do we call a baby cow?
The correct responses are "five" and "calf."
Questions 7 through 10 are suggested as the starting points
for 11 to 13 year olds. They are as follows:
7. How many days make a week?
8. Name the month that comes next after March.
9. From what animal do we get bacon?
10. How many things make a dozen?
The acceptable responses are "seven" (except that if the child
answers "five" he is to be asked "how many counting the
weekend?"); "April," "pig . . . hog . . piggy," and "twelve."
Questions 11 through 30 are for 14 to 16 year olds. They
become progressively more difficult. Question 11 asks for the
four seasons of the year. They can be named in any order.
Question 12 asks, "Who discovered America?" Acceptable
responses are "Columbus . . . Leif Erickson, Vikings
(Norsemen), Amerigo Vespucci. (If a child says `Indians,' say
`yes, the Indians were already there, but who sailed across
the ocean and discovered America?')."
Item 12 is the first on the WISC-R to draw the fire of the
plaintiffs. Their witness Williams stated that this item is
"absolutely insulting" to Native American children, since it
implies that the land where their forebearers resided needed
to be "discovered" by someone else. Dr. Williams also
criticized the question as confusing, since it is a
contradiction to say that something was "discovered" when it
was already occupied. Whatever the merits of these reactions
may be, Dr. Williams did not explain how Item 12 discriminates
against black children as opposed to white children, and we
assume that he was not attempting to establish any such
Item 13 asks, "What does the stomach do?" The acceptable
responses all center on the function of the stomach in
digesting or holding food. Dr. Williams testified that many
black children answer, "It growls." He attributes this to the
fact that many black children come from poverty level families
and simply do not have enough to eat. The point seems well
taken, and, if no credit would be given for such an answer, it
is clear that a black child would be penalized unfairly. The
WISC-R manual instructs the examiner to give the child credit
for any response which is similar to or better than the
acceptable responses listed. (Manual, p. 61) On the other
hand, the examiner is cautioned to adhere strictly to the test
procedures outlined in the manual, since "to change the
conditions of administration is to change the test results to
an unknown degree." (Manual, p. 53) The test is to be
administered by a trained psychologist, and one would hope
that the child who answers that his stomach "growls" would
either be given credit for an "equal to" response or at least
that the response would come up for later discussion when the
child is evaluated for placement. The test kit includes a
record form which the examiner is to complete as he
administers each item to the child. The manual instructs the
examiner to record the response in sufficient detail so that
it is preserved for later discussion. (Manual p. 63)
Item 14 asks, "In what direction does the sun set?" The
answer is west, and if the child points, he is asked what
direction that is. Dr. Williams did not criticize this
question, but it was cited by Dr. Dale Layman in the only
instance where a witness other than Dr. Williams mentioned a
test item during plaintiffs' case. Dr. Layman said that this
item would be unfair for a child who lives in a high-rise
housing project and has never been on the west side of the
building to see the sun set. It was not clear to us whether
Dr. Layman was basing her opinion upon actual experience with
this test item or not. She did not specifically say that she
has encountered any such difficulty with this question.
Questions 15 through 20 ask what month has an extra day
during leap year; who invented the electric light bulb; from
what country did America become independent in 1776; why oil
floats on water ("because it is lighter . . . it's not as
heavy . . it's less dense . . . it's not heavy enough to go to
the bottom . . . it's more buoyant . . . water is heavier);
name the two countries that border the United States (both
must be named for credit); and how many pounds make a ton
(credit is given for 2,000 or any answer from 2,200 to 2,240,
since the child may be referring to a metric ton). No witness
referred to any of these questions.
Question No. 21 asks, "In what continent is Chile?" Dr.
Williams criticized the question by saying, "That's hardly our
environment." Since the WISC-R manual defines intelligence as
". . . the overall capacity of an individual to understand and
cope with the world around him," Dr. Williams says the
question does not measure intelligence. Considering that this
test item is the twenty-first of thirty items on the
Information sub-test, it is doubtful that a school-age child
suspected of retardation would even reach it. One problem we
have with Dr. Williams' testimony is that he never referred to
the age level for which the various items are recommended. In
any event, it does not appear to us why the location of Chile
would be more familiar to a white 14 year old child than to a
black 14 year old child.
Question 22 asks, "What is the main material used to make
glass?" The acceptable responses call for a reference to sand,
silica or quartz.
Item 23 asks, "What is the capital of Greece?" Dr. Williams
criticizes this question on the same basis he found fault with
the question about Chile; "Athens is not a part of our
Item 24 asks, "How tall is the average American man?" Any
answer from 5 ft. 7 in. through 5 ft. 11 in. is acceptable.
The examiner is specifically instructed not to give credit for
5 ft. 6 1/2 in. or 5 ft. 11 1/2 in. Dr. Williams criticizes
this item on the basis, again, that it does not test a child's
ability to cope with his environment.
Item 25 asks, "What is a barometer?" Any answer which
indicates that it measures air pressure or forecasts rain or
weather is acceptable.
Item 26 asks, "What causes iron to rust?" Any answer
indicating oxidation is acceptable.
Item 27 asks the distance from New York to Los Angeles, and
any answer from 2,500 to 3,500 miles is acceptable.
Item 28 asks, "What are hieroglyphics?" The acceptable
responses are anything indicating ancient writings or symbols.
Dr. Williams expresses dissatisfaction with this item, again
because it is "still not a part of this culture."
Item 29 asks, "Who is Charles Darwin?" Dr. Williams
If you're going to ask kids questions about their
environment, the better questions would be, would
relate to folks that they're familiar with,
people with whom they come in contact or they
read about and who are part of their particular
That would be a better estimate. For example, why
not ask them who is Malcolm X, who was Martin
Luther King, or who were some of these people
that they would have had an opportunity to learn
about, rather than Charles Darwin who was an
Dr. Williams finds it ". . . interesting, again, that Darwin
would be included in a question, here. As I indicated before,
he wrote Origin of the Species, and that he also had a very
negative theory against black people."
Finally, Item 30 on the Information sub-test is, "What does
turpentine come from?" Any answer indicating a fir or
evergreen tree is acceptable.
To summarize plaintiffs' specific criticism of the thirty
information items, No. 13, the stomach question, is said to be
biased against black children because they would be more
likely than white children to think
of a stomach as something that growls rather than something
that digests or stores food. Item 14, the direction in which
the sun sets, may also have been criticized by Dr. Layman as
a question that penalizes black children who live in high-rise
projects. This is not clear. These are the only two items of
the thirty as to which some rationale has been suggested to
explain why a black child would respond differently than a
white child. Six other questions, 12, 21, 23, 24, 28 and 29,
are criticized as not relevant to a child's "environment." Dr.
Williams stated why certain other persons would be better
known than Charles Darwin to black children, but it seems
likely that there are names which would be better known to
white children as well. For instance, it may be that white
children would be more apt to know about Malcolm X and Martin
Luther King than Charles Darwin. If not, it would still be
easy to think of other names that are better known than
Darwin. But the object of the test is not always to ask for
information that is well known to everyone. The Darwin
question is 29th in a list of 30 items arranged in order of
increasing difficulty. It is a question which most children
are expected to miss. It is not a realistic possibility that
any child, white or black, would fall below a score of 80 on
the test — the dividing line defendants use for EMH eligibility
— because of missing this question. A child who is going to
score low on the test will simply not reach the question.
The other items which are criticized for not being part of
a child's "environment" are not claimed to be any more
directly related to the everyday experience of a white child
than they are to that of a black child. Hieroglyphics are not
a pressing issue for any American child, white or black.
The next sub-test of the WISC-R is entitled "Picture
Completion." It contains twenty-six items, with a point for
each item. The test consists of twenty-six cards, each with a
picture of an object. Something is missing in the picture and
the child is to say what is missing. He continues with the
test until he has four consecutive misses.
Items 1 through 4 are for 6 and 7 year olds. Item 1 shows an
ordinary hair comb with some missing teeth. Dr. Williams
criticized this item as unfair to black children because they
may have been exposed only to an Afro-type comb and do not
recognize the article shown in the picture.
Item 2 is a picture of a black woman with no mouth.
Item 3 shows a fox without a left ear. The right ear is
Item 4 shows the back of a hand. The little finger has no
nail, whereas the nails on the other four fingers are vividly
Items 5 through 26 are for children ages 8 to 16. Item 5
shows a cat with whiskers on the right side of its face but no
whiskers on the left side. Item 6 shows a girl holding a doll,
looking into a mirror. The mirror image shows the girl but not
the doll. Item 7 is a clock showing all numbers but "8." There
is a blank space where the "8" should be. Item 8 shows an
elephant with only three legs. Item 9 shows a step ladder with
one step missing. Item 10 is a picture of a dresser with four
drawers. There are two knobs on three of the drawers but the
fourth drawer has only one knob. Item 11 shows a belt with a
buckle but no holes. Item 12 is a front view of a white man's
face. Part of his nose is missing.
Item 13 is a picture of a door. There is a hinge shown
toward the top of the door, but no other hinge is shown. Dr.
Williams testified that a black child from poor economic
circumstances might be accustomed to doors with missing
hinges, so that he would not understand what element is
missing in this picture.
Item 14 is a 5 of diamonds playing card. A diamond is shown
in each of the four corners. The fifth diamond, which belongs
in the center of the playing card, is missing.
Item 19 shows a profile view of a white girl without an ear.
Item 20 is a screw without a slot in the head. Item 21 shows
a cow with a cleft in three of its hooves but no cleft in the
fourth hoof. Item 22 shows a thermometer which has no mercury
in its bulb.
Item 23 shows the sun shining on a house and tree. The house
casts a shadow, but there is no shadow cast by the tree. Item
24 is a telephone which has no cord connecting the receiver to
the base. Item 25 is a profile view of a white boy without an
eyebrow. Item 26 shows an open umbrella without spokes.
The third sub-test on the WISC-R is "Similarities." All
children begin with Item 1 and discontinue after missing three
consecutive items. The seventeen items have different point
values. Items 1 through 4 are one or zero, Items 5 through 17
are scored either two, one or zero.
On each item, the child is asked to tell how two things are
alike. Item 1 is "wheel-ball." Acceptable responses are that
they are both round, they both roll, they are both circles,
they are both shaped like a zero, or an "o." Items 2, 3 and 4
are "candle-lamp," "shirt-hat," and "piano-guitar." The
acceptable responses are the obvious ones.
The two-point items begin with Item 5. Two points are given
for answers which identify a general classification into which
both items fit. One point is given for identifying any
specific properties or functions which are common to both
items. For example, Item 5 is "apple-banana." Two points are
given for any response indicating that both are fruits, one
point is given for any response indicating specific
properties, such as that both can be eaten. Item 6 is
"beer-wine." Two points are given for any response indicating
that both are alcoholic beverages, one point is given for a
response indicating that both are drinks or both are liquid.
The remaining items are as follows, with the two-point
responses indicated in parentheses:
9. Telephone-radio. (Means of communication)
10. Pound-yard. (Units of measurement)
11. Anger-joy. (Emotions)
12. Scissors-copper pan. (Made of metal or
13. Mountain-lake. (Natural features of the
14. Liberty-justice. (Ideals)
15. First-last. (Extremes or positions in a
16. The numbers 49 and 121. (Both are perfect
squares, or have odd-number square roots)
17. Salt-water. (Necessary for life or chemical
Plaintiffs presented no evidence that any of the Similarities
items are racially biased. Dr. Williams did not mention this
The fourth sub-test is "Picture Arrangement." This consists
of thirteen sets of pictures. Each set is presented to the
child in a mixed-up order, and he is asked to arrange the
cards in a sequence that tells a sensible story. The mixed-up
order is the same for each child.
The child is allowed 45 seconds for each of Items 1 through
8 and 60 seconds for Items 9 through 12. The child continues
with the items until he has three consecutive failures. Bonus
points are given if the child finishes in less time than
allotted for the item. The maximum score is 48 points.
Items 1 and 2 are for 6 and 7 year olds. Item 1 consists of
three cards about a boxing match. One card shows the boxers in
the ring, sparring. One is in black trunks, one is in white
trunks. The second card shows the boxer in white trunks
obviously winning the fight, and the third card shows the
boxer in black trunks being carried away from the ring while
the boxer in white trunks stands in the ring with his arms
raised in victory.
Item 2 consists of three cards about a picnic. One card
shows a man and woman carrying a picnic basket and being
followed by a dog which is looking hungrily at the basket.
Another card shows the dog pulling food out of the basket as
the couple, unaware of his presence, continues walking. A
third card shows the couple with their picnic blanket spread,
reacting in consternation as they view their empty picnic
Before the child starts each item, the examiner tells him
something about the pictures. In Item 1, the examiner says,
"These pictures tell the story about a fight, a boxing match.
The pictures are in the wrong order now. See if you can put
them in the right order so they tell a story that makes
sense." In Item 2, the examiner says, "These pictures tell a
story about a picnic. These pictures are in the wrong order
now. See if you can put them in the right order so they tell
a story that makes sense."
Items 3 through 12 are for 8 to 16 year olds. Item 3
consists of four cards. One shows a boy playing with matches
and being scolded by his mother. Another card shows the match
box and the window curtain on fire, and the boy running away.
A third card shows a manned fire truck racing along the
street, and a fourth card shows the little boy crying outside
the burning building while the firemen fight the fire.
Item 4 consists of four cards which tell the story of a boy
who used a nearby lumber pile to make a bridge to cross a
Item 5 is four cards showing a burglar entering a window,
stealing some items from a dresser and being confronted by a
policeman as he comes back out the window.
Item 6 shows a man waking up to his alarm clock, wolfing
down his breakfast, running down the sidewalk to work and then
sleeping again at his desk at work.
Item 7 is four pictures showing an artist setting up her
easel and painting a picture.
Item 8 shows a western gunman looking at a lasso in a store
window and then shows the store proprietor tied up with the
lasso while the gunman rifles the cash register.
Item 9 is a five-card story about a man whose boat drifts
away from him before he can board it.
Item 10 tells a story about a boy whose mother handed him a
spade with instructions to plant a tree. He used the spade to
dig worms to go fishing.
Item 11 shows a man who purchased a bench, and, while
walking down the street with it, accidently bumped another man
in the head. The two men then become engaged in a fight while
two spectators sit on the bench and watch.
Item 12 starts with a girl who is refusing an umbrella being
offered by her mother. The mother is pointing to rainclouds
visible through the window. The girl then goes out and the
rain starts. The girl comes back inside, dripping water, and
goes out again carrying the umbrella.
Dr. Williams did not comment on the picture arrangement
sub-test in the WISC-R. He did criticize two of the items as
they appeared in the earlier WISC test, and we will note those
criticisms when we discuss the WISC.
Sub-test five is "Arithmetic." There are eighteen items,
with one point for each, and a maximum score of 18 points.
Children 6 and 7 years of age start with Item 1, 8 to 10 year
olds start with Item 5, 11 to 13 year olds start with Item 8,
and 14 to 16 year olds start with Item 10. There are 30 second
time limits for Items 1 through 13, 45 seconds for Items 14
and 15, and 75 seconds for Items 16 through 18. The test is
discontinued after the child has had three consecutive
failures. A child may not use pencil and paper for any
Items 1 through 4 are done with two cards. One card is blank
and the other has 12 trees in a horizontal line.
In Item 1, the examiner places the tree card before the
child and says, "Count these trees with your finger. Count
them out loud so I can hear you." If the child counts the 12
trees, he scores one point.
In Item 3, the child is asked to cover up all trees but
nine. In Item 4, the child is asked how many trees there would
be on the tree card if one tree were added at each end of the
In Items 5, 6 and 7, the child is asked how many pieces he
would have if he cut an apple in half, how many ribbons
Barbara would have if she started with five and lost one, and
how many pennies John would have if he started with four and
his mother gave him two.
In Item 8, the child is told that Jim had eight marbles and
bought six more. "How many marbles did he have altogether?"
Item 9 asks how many newspapers a boy would have if he started
with twelve and sold five.
Item 10, the starting point for 14 to 16 year olds, asks how
much three candy bars would cost if they cost 8 cents each.
Item 11 states that Bill, Dave and Tom each earned $9.00
working in a supermarket and asks how much they earned
altogether. Item 12 states that a milkman had 25 cartons of
milk and sold 14. "How many cartons did he have left?" Item 13
asks how many hours a workman worked if he was paid $4.00 an
hour and earned $36.00. Item 14 asks how much change you would
get back from a dollar if you bought two dozen pencils at 45
cents a dozen. Item 15 concerns four boys who had 72 pennies.
If they divided them equally, how many pennies did each boy
Items 1 through 15 are read to the child by the examiner. In
Items 16 through 18, the child reads the problem aloud from a
book. However, if he cannot read, the examiner will read the
problem to him.
Item 16 asks, "If three pieces of bubblegum costs 5 cents,
what will be the cost of 24 pieces?" Item 17 reads, "Tony
bought a secondhand bicycle for $28.00. He paid two-thirds of
what the bicycle cost new. How much did it cost new?"
Item 18 asks, "A jacket that usually sells for $32.00 was on
sale for 1/4 less. When no one bought it, the store owner
reduced the sale price by 1/2. How much did the jacket sell for
after the second price reduction?" (Emphasis in original).
Plaintiffs offered no criticism of the Arithmetic sub-test.
Dr. Williams did not mention it. Of the seven sub-tests still
to be discussed, only one was referred to by any of the
The sixth sub-test is "Block Design." The materials consist
of nine small cubes colored red on two sides, white on two
sides, and red/white on two sides. The remaining materials are
eleven cards printed with pictures of the colored cubes
arranged in various patterns. Each card is an item on the
test. The child is shown the card by the examiner and asked to
arrange the cubes to show the same design that appears on the
card. The examiner demonstrates how it is done on the first
three items before the child tries for himself. There is a
time limit of 45 seconds for each of the first four items, 75
seconds for Items 5 through 8, and 120 seconds for Items 9
through 11. The child is allowed two tries on Items 1, 2 and
3. For each of Items 4 through 11, there are bonus points
given for completion within various intervals under the
allotted time limit. The maximum score for the eleven items is
62 points. The child continues until he has failed on two
As with the other sub-tests, the items become progressively
more difficult. Items 1 and 2 on this sub-test are for 6 and
7 year olds, and Items 3 through 11 are for ages 8 through 16.
It is unnecessary to describe every item. A description of the
first three items and one of the advanced items will suffice
to indicate the nature of the test.
Item 1 shows four cubes arranged in a square. The bottom two
cubes are solid red and the top two are solid white. Item 2
again shows four cubes stacked in a square. This time, the
white ones are at the top left and bottom right while the red
ones are at the top right and bottom left. Item 3 is again an
arrangement of four cubes in a square. The top two cubes and
the bottom right cube are red. The bottom cube on the left is
divided diagonally into a red half on the right and a white
half on the left.
Item 11 is an exotic design which looks something like a
pinwheel. It requires all nine cubes and is difficult to
construct within the time limit.
The seventh sub-test on the WISC-R is "Vocabulary." The
items are thirty-two words, with a maximum score of 64 points.
The examiner says the words to the child. ("I am going to say
some words. Listen carefully and tell me what each word
means.") The child can score either one or two points on each
item, depending upon the quality of the answer. The manual
provides detailed scoring instructions, with sample answers,
indicating how various responses should be scored. The
examiner is instructed to disregard "elegance of expression."
(Manual, p. 161). Generally, a two-point answer is one which
shows in some way that the child is thoroughly familiar with
what the word means, whereas a one-point answer is one showing
less understanding. An obviously wrong answer results in zero
Six and 7 year olds start with Item 1, 8 to 10 year olds
start with Item 4, 11 to 13 year olds start with Item 6, and
14 to 16 year olds start with Item 8. A child continues until
he has five consecutive failures.
Item 1 is "knife." The following are given as samples of
two-point responses: "Something you cut with . . . has a blade
and a handle . . . silverware, it cuts . . . a weapon . . . to
stab with . . . you can peel an apple with it. . . ." Samples
of one-point responses are listed as: "eat with it . . . to
kill people . . . sharp . . . made of steel . . . you can
scare people with a knife . . . to hunt with. . . ."
Zero-point responses are: "I play with it . . . I have
one . . . put in your pocket."
Item 2 is "umbrella." Two-point responses are: "Use it to
keep the rain off . . protects you when it rains . . . put it
over your head when it rains . . . so you don't get wet when
it rains." One-point responses are: "Carry it when it
rains . . . big round thing that can fold up . . . put it over
your head . . . to keep off the sun . . . you hold it up (gives
appropriate demonstration) . . helps you if it starts
raining . . . keeps you dry." All of these one-point responses
are marked with "Q" in the manual, indicating that the examiner
should follow up the response with another question as to what
the child means. If a child says, "Put it over your head," the
examiner should ask, "Explain what you mean." If the child
says something like, "You know, like when it rains," he is
given two points for the response.
Dr. Williams criticized "umbrella" as a vocabulary word for
black children because a black child might call the object a
"parasol" and not know the meaning of the word "umbrella."
According to Dr. Williams, the object is called a "parasol" in
the black community. He did not indicate whether the word
"umbrella" is also known in the black community, in the same
way "parasol" is known but not commonly used in the white
The "umbrella" item is the only one on the Vocabulary
sub-test which drew any comment from plaintiffs.
Items 3 through 32 of the vocabulary test are as follows:
The test starts with a sample item, a five-piece assembly of
an apple. The examiner shows the child how to assemble the
apple and then proceeds to Item 1.
Item 1 is a figure of a white girl wearing a dress. The
figure is in seven pieces. One piece is the head, a second
piece is the upper torso, a third piece is the lower torso and
portions of the legs and the other four pieces are the
remaining portions of the legs and the two arms. The examiner
arranges these seven pieces in a specified configuration,
shown in the manual, before the child and says to the child,
"If you put these pieces together the right way, they will
make a girl. Go ahead and put them together." If the child
does not complete the assembly perfectly within the allotted
120 seconds, the examiner shows him the correct assembly and
says, "See, it goes like this." The test then proceeds to Item
2 and no further help is given.
Item 2 is a six-piece assembly of a horse. Item 3 is a
seven-piece assembly of an automobile. It is an ordinary
looking sedan. Item 4 is an eight-piece assembly of the face
of a white male.
The ninth sub-test is entitled "Comprehension." It consists
of seventeen questions. All children begin with Item 1 and
continue until they have four consecutive failures. Each item
is scored two, one or zero, depending upon the quality of the
response. The maximum score is 34 points.
Each question is read slowly to the child and may be
repeated if there is any indication the child does not
Item 1 is, "What is the thing to do when you cut your
finger?" The general criteria for a two-point answer are "put
a bandage on it, cleanse it, or medicate it." Specific
examples of two-point answers are: "put a bandaid on it . . .
fix it up with medicine (may mention a specific one, e.g.,
iodine) . . . wash it with soap and water . . . stop the
bleeding . . put pressure on it . . . wrap it . . tape (tie,
patch) it up . . . let it bleed (Q) it cleans the cut."
Example of one-point answers are: "tell my mother (teacher)
about it . . . treat it (Q) . . go to the doctor
(hospital) . . . get it stitched up . . . soak it (Q) . . . put
it under water (Q)."
The "Q" means that the examiner should ask the child to
elaborate because he may be able to give a two-point answer.
We will list the remaining items and the general criteria
for a two-point response, without quoting in detail the sample
responses given by the manual.
Item 2 is, "What are you supposed to do if you find
someone's wallet or pocketbook in a store?" The general
criteria are: "try to return it to the owner, either by
looking for identification of the owner or by giving it to the
store owner, policeman, etc."
Dr. Williams criticizes this question because ". . . given
the context today of the negative emphasis on black crime,
black children pulling wallets or snatching purses, it would
be suicide for a child to say, `I would pick it up and try to
find the owner.' Black kids are afraid to say that. So that
the correct answer is, `try to find the owner' and that's not
a good thing for them to do in a store. They would be accused
of having snatched it."
We believe this criticism may well have merit.
Item 3 is, "What should you do if you see thick smoke coming
from a window of your neighbor's house?" The general criteria
are: "have the Fire Department or Police Department notified.
Call the fire (police) department . . . get a policeman
(fireman) . . . pull down the handle in a firebox . . . report
it" and "perform some action until the firemen arrive."
Item 4 is, "What are some reasons why we need policemen?"
The general criteria are: "to protect people or property (by
preventing a possible criminal action), to enforce laws (when
a crime is occurring or has occurred)," and "to help people
with noncriminal problems."
Dr. Williams testified that he has had responses from black
children to the effect that "we don't need policemen, we can
take care of our own community, because the policemen come in
here and they treat us badly."
Item 5 is, "What is the thing to do if you lose a ball that
belongs to one of your friends?" The general criterion is:
"replace the loss." Samples of two-point responses are: "give
him (her) one of mine . . . try to get it back or replace
it . . . pay for it . . . buy her a new one . . . buy another
one if I can't find it." Dr. Williams commented on this
question by saying that when he asked this question several
years ago, "a little black boy told me, he said, `well, I take
him to the hospital.'" Dr. Williams explained that the little
boy was "coming from his own cultural reference point," which
is that "balls" refers to a portion of the anatomy. Dr.
Williams did not state how often he had encountered this
confusion among black children or whether he had any reason to
believe that the term could not have the same meaning to a
Item 6 is, "What is the thing to do if a boy (girl) much
smaller than yourself starts to fight with you?" The general
criterion is "do not fight with him (her)." Examples of
two-point responses are: "just walk away . . . don't hit him,
find out what's the matter . . . let him be. . . ."
This "fight" question in the WISC-R is undoubtedly the most
famous item in the IQ controversy. It is the item most cited
by critics of the tests as an example of serious racial bias.
The reason it is biased, according to Dr. Williams and some of
the other authors whose articles are in evidence, is that in
black communities children are taught that if anyone hits them
they should hit back. Defendants point out that in the only
study which has been made of the matter, it appears that this
question is of the same relative difficulty in relation to the
other items on the WISC-R for white children as it is for
black children. This, however, does not answer the question of
whether black children answer the item incorrectly more often
than white children do. According to another study, black
children do in fact fail this item with about twice the
frequency of white children. We believe on this basis that
there is strong reason to believe the item is racially biased.
Item 7 is, "In what ways is a house built of brick or stone
better than one built of wood?" General criteria are: "more
durable (more permanent, sturdier); "safer;" "better
insulation;" "convenient (less upkeep . . . don't have to
paint brick or stone . . .)." Two points are given for a
response recognizing at least two of the four general criteria
and one point for recognizing any one of them.
Item 8 is, "Why is it important for cars to have license
plates?" The four general criteria are: "identification of the
owner of the vehicle;" "identification of the vehicle itself;"
"source of income for state government;" "statistical
records." Two points are given for a response recognizing any
two of the four general criteria and one point for recognizing
one of them.
Item 9, another two-point question, is, "Why are criminals
locked up?" Five general criteria are listed: "Protection for
society;" "example to others;" "punishment or revenge;"
Item 10 asks, "Why do we have to put stamps on letters?" The
general criterion is: "to pay for the mailing of the letter."
A child receives two points for any response indicating "that
the stamps are like money," and one point for any response
which shows an awareness that the letter cannot be delivered
without a stamp even though the child does not explain the
purpose of the stamp.
Item 11 is, "Why is it important for the government to hire
people to inspect the meat in meat packing plants?" The
general criterion is: "to protect the consumer (to assure that
certain standards are met, prevent widespread disease, etc.)."
Dr. Williams offered some cogent criticisms of this
question. He pointed out that a poor child or a child on
welfare would be less likely to give to an organized charity
than to a blind or crippled person he saw on the street. One
of the zero responses listed for this item is, "If you give it
to a beggar, he is liable to keep it himself." Dr. Williams
suggested that this is exactly what you would want the beggar
to do and that such a response is not inappropriate. We are
persuaded by Dr. Williams' analysis and regard this item as
particularly inappropriate for poor children or children on
welfare. It is conceded that a higher percentage of black
children than white are poor, or on welfare, and the item
therefore discriminates against blacks.
Item 13 is, "Why is it good to hold elections by secret
ballot?" The general criterion is: "so a person can vote as he
chooses without fearing what others will think or do about it
(without fear of public pressure)."
Item 14 is, "In what ways are paperback books better than
hard-covered books?" The general criteria are: "cheaper (also
more expendable);" "lighter to carry;" "greater availability
(i.e., for purchase);" "easier to store." Two points are given
for recognizing any two of these general ideas and one point
for one idea.
Item 15 asks, "Why should a promise be kept?" The general
criterion is: "basis of faith and mutual trust, has status of
implied contract." The child receives two points for
expressing the idea of mutual trust or for expressing the idea
of the mutual advantage to be gained from keeping promises.
One point is given for a statement recognizing a particular
advantage, usually to one person, such as "so you can be
Item 16 is, "Why is cotton often used in making cloth?" The
six general criteria are: "durability;" "washability;"
"cheapness (or abundance);" "coolness;" "facility in weaving
(or sewing);" "takes dyes well."
Item 17 on the Comprehension sub-test is, "What are the
advantages of having senators and congressmen?" The general
criteria are: "to make laws (or any specific function such as
to levy taxes, vote on bills, etc.);" "the population is too
large to meet as a body;" "to ensure that all parts of the
country are represented;" "to act as spokesmen for the
people;" "checks and balances."
Of the seventeen comprehension items, then, five were
criticized by Dr. Williams as unfair to blacks. I accept his
analysis as far as Items 2 (wallet), 6 (fight) and 12 (beggar)
are concerned. I am not persuaded by his views of Item 4
(policeman) and regard his concern about Item 5 (ball) as
Sub-test 10 on the WISC-R is "Coding." It is divided into
two parts. "Coding A" is for children under eight, and "Coding
B" is for children eight and older.
"Coding A" is a printed worksheet with five figures at the
top. They are a star, a circle, a triangle, a cross and a
square, arranged horizontally across the paper. Each figure
has a symbol inside it. Inside the star is a vertical line
which resembles the figure "1." The circle encloses two
horizontal lines. There is one horizontal line inside the
triangle. There is a circle in the center of the cross. The
square encloses two vertical lines which resemble the figure
Below these figures on the worksheet are five rows of the
same figures arranged in a random sequence. However, these
figures have no symbols inside them. The object of the test is
for the child, using a pencil, to put the appropriate symbol
from the top row into each of the figures in the bottom rows.
The first half of the top test row is a "sample," consisting
of one of each of the figures — a circle, a star, a square, a
cross and a triangle. These, like the others in the
test rows, are empty. The examiner explains the test to the
child, ". . . I want you to fill in the things here with the
same marks they have at the top . . ." The child then works
the sample exercise and is told whether he is doing it
correctly. The examiner is cautioned not to begin the actual
test until the child clearly understands the task.
The child is then told to fill in as many of the remaining
test items as he can until he is told to stop, without
skipping any. The examiner stops the child at the end of 120
seconds. The child receives one point for each item filled in
correctly. A perfect score is 45. The child can achieve as
many as five bonus points for completing the test in less than
the time allotted.
"Coding B" is the same general kind of test, but more
difficult. Instead of figures such as squares and triangles,
there are numbers one through nine. There is a symbol
corresponding to each number, and the symbols are not entirely
dissimilar. The symbol for the number "1", for instance, is a
horizontal line with a dot above it. The symbol for the number
"8" is a horizontal line with a dot below it.
In the section below these figures on the worksheet are four
rows of the numbers one through nine arranged in random order,
with a box under each number. In each box the child enters the
symbol corresponding to the number. Again, the examiner
explains the test to the child and some sample boxes are
provided. The examiner is instructed not to proceed with the
test until the child clearly understands the task. The
examiner stops the child after 120 seconds. One point is
scored for each item filled in correctly. There is no penalty
for poor drawing. The item is scored as correct if it is
"clearly identifiable as the keyed figure, even if it is drawn
imperfectly. . . ." There are 93 items in Coding "B", and the
maximum score is therefore 93.
Sub-test 11 of the WISC-R is entitled "Digit Span." It tests
the ability of the child to repeat numbers after the examiner.
"I am going to say some numbers. Listen carefully, and when I
am through say them right after me." There are two parts to
this sub-test, "Digits Forward" and "Digits Backward." In the
former, the child repeats the numbers in the order the
examiner says them, and in the latter the child is told to
repeat the numbers in reverse order.
Each item consists of two "trials." For instance, the two
trials of Item 1 in "Digits Forward" are "3-8-6" and "6-1-2."
There are seven items in each of the two tests, and the items
become longer by one digit in each trial. Item 7 in the
"Digits Backward" test, for instance, consists of these two
trials: "6-9-1-6-3-2-5-8" and "3-1-7-9-5-4-8-2."
The maximum score on each test is 14 points. The child
receives two points if he passes both trials of the item and
one point if he passes only one trial. The test is
discontinued as soon as the child fails both trials of any
The twelfth and final sub-test on the WISC-R is "Mazes."
This consists of nine drawings contained in a worksheet (the
same worksheet that contains the "Coding" sub-test). Each
drawing consists of a series of concentric squares, with gaps
in the lines, so that one can, with varying degrees of
concentration, trace ones way from the center of the drawing
to a point outside the drawing by finding the openings in the
lines. At the center of each drawing is the figure of a boy or
a girl, and the task is to lead the boy or girl out of the
maze, using a red pencil. The child is told to keep his pencil
point on the paper and to avoid touching any lines. "You're
not allowed to go through a wall."
There is a sample maze which the examiner uses to
demonstrate the test to the child. "See this boy in the middle
here? (point) He wants to get out to the street there (point).
Let me show you how he could do it without getting stuck.
Watch me. . . . No, not this way. You see, if he took this
turn he would get stuck by the blocked road. He can't go
through a wall (point). He must go this way to get out."
The first maze is very simple, and, as is true of the items
on all the sub-tests, they become progressively more
difficult. Items 1 through 7 are reasonably easy; Items 8 and
9 are formidable.
Children ages 6 to 7 begin with Maze 1, children ages 8-16
begin with Maze 4. The scoring is somewhat complicated. There
is a time limit for each maze. Numbers 1 through 4 are 30
seconds. Five is 45 seconds, 6 is 60 seconds, 7 and 8 are 120
seconds, and 9 is 150 seconds. The points awarded for each
maze are a function of time and error. A perfect score, up to
5, is awarded for solving the maze within the allotted time
with no errors. (An error is defined as entrance into a blind
alley.) Partial credit is given for solving the maze within
the allotted time, albeit making errors along the way.
The test is discontinued after the child has two consecutive
failures — that is, where he has failed to achieve any points
at all on two consecutive mazes.
The maximum score is 30 points.
This completes the description of the sub-tests of the
WISC-R. It will now be helpful to discuss briefly how the test
was devised. The information about the test is derived from
the WISC-R Manual, and the parties do not dispute the accuracy
of that information.
As indicated by the "R," this test is a revision of an
earlier test, the simple "WISC." It was an attempt to update
the earlier test and to eliminate some deficiencies which the
test authors acknowledged in their earlier efforts. We will
discuss the WISC itself in some detail at a later point in
this opinion, since it is still used by the defendants and is
one of the tests challenged by the plaintiffs.
The WISC-R was administered in 1970 to 2,200 subjects, ages
6 1/2 to 16 1/2. There were eleven age groups, with 200
children in each group. Children of minority groups were
included in the same proportion as minorities appeared in the
1970 census. Three hundred five black children were included
in the sample of 2,200. Half of the children were male, half
were female. The subjects were drawn from five categories,
depending upon the education of the father or head of the
household. The percentages were the same as were reflected in
the 1970 census. The 2,200 subjects were drawn proportionately
from the four geographical areas of the 1970 census, with the
same distribution of urban and rural children as reflected in
the census. Only normal children were used, except that
children who were only suspected of mental deficiency were not
excluded. Two hundred two different examiners administered the
sample tests to the 2,200 subjects.
With this mix of children, deemed by the test authors to be
representative of the general population, the test questions
were administered for the purpose of determining the range of
performance in each of the age groups. A statistical profile,
resembling the familiar bell-shaped curve, was established for
each age group. Mean scores and standard deviations were
established on each of the sub-tests for each of the age
groups. A child who takes the WISC-R achieves a score which is
compared to the scores achieved by the other children in his
age group. The total points achieved by the child on each of
the sub-tests are added and then converted to a scaled score.
This is the IQ score. An IQ of 100 is the mean. The standard
deviation is 15. About two-thirds of all children achieve IQ
scores between 85 and 115 — that is, between one standard
deviation below and one standard deviation above the mean.
About 95 per cent score in the 70 to 130 range, two standard
deviations above and below the mean.
The WISC-R has not totally displaced the earlier WISC test,
at least as far as the Chicago School System is concerned. For
reasons which are not entirely clear in the record, some
children, without regard to race, are given the WISC rather
than the WISC-R. The two tests combined are given to a total
of 69 per cent of the children who are given intelligence
tests, with the WISC-R being used in the majority of these
instances. The revised Stanford-Binet, Form L-M, the third
test under attack
in this case, is given to 19 per cent of the children tested.
There is a temptation to shorten this opinion by saying that
the WISC is substantially similar to the WISC-R, so that
whatever conclusions one draws as to the racial bias of one
will apply to the other. The temptation is particularly strong
because the parties themselves have made no effort to
distinguish between the two tests. But as I have indicated, I
believe the persuasiveness of judicial opinions in this area
must depend upon exposition and analysis of the test
materials, not upon bald pronouncements or conclusions. Where
the WISC is identical to the WISC-R, I will so indicate. Where
there are differences, I will describe the actual test items
of the WISC.
The WISC test was published in 1949. It was standardized on
2,200 children, with 200 in each age group, in much the same
manner as the WISC-R. The 1940 census was used as the
statistical base and the sample was drawn so as to reflect the
general population in terms of geographic areas, urban versus
rural, and parental occupation. The manual notes, without
comment, that "only white children were examined."
The WISC is divided into the same twelve sub-tests as the
WISC-R. The general instructions to the examiner as to how to
give the tests are in all significant respects of the same
tenor as those in provided with the WISC-R. In describing the
various sub-tests, it will generally be unnecessary to refer
to the instructions concerning administration or scoring.
The first sub-test on the WISC is entitled "General
Information." It consists of thirty items, as did the
Information sub-test on the WISC-R. The following items on the
two sub-tests are identical:
9 12 (Who discovered America?)
10 10 (Where does the sun set?)
14 13 (What does the stomach do?)
19 24 (How tall is the average American man?)
In addition, Item 20 on the WISC, "Where is Chile?," was
replaced by the less ambiguous, "In what continent is Chile?,"
as Item 21 on the WISC-R. The remaining eleven items on the
WISC were not carried over into the WISC-R. They are as
Item 4 asks, "From what animal do we get milk?" The answer
is: "cow(s); goat(s)." (On the WISC-R, Item 9 is, "From what
animal do we get bacon?").
Item 6 on the WISC is, "In what kind of a store do we buy
sugar?" The answer is: "grocery store; food store; name of
local store like A & P."
Number 12 on the WISC is, "What is the color of rubies?" The
answer is: "red; maroon." Dr. Williams criticized this item as
confusing to black children because "Ruby" can be a woman's
name. Dr. Williams testified that he had a little boy say,
"Well, she's black." Dr. Williams commented he felt this was
a "very creative response," and that it was not appropriate to
score that response a zero. It is doubtful that such an answer
would be evaluated as indicating mental deficiency. The WISC
manual (p. 18) cautions the examiner that the responses of the
subject should be recorded exactly as they are given and
states that ". . . a full recording of the subject's answers
permits a subsequent evaluation and a fuller consideration of
them in comparison with responses obtained on other tests."
Thus, while the test item might be a poor one (it was not
repeated on the WISC-R), I am not persuaded that a black child
who misunderstands the question would be penalized. If the
more complete instructions in the WISC-R manual were applied
to the WISC where appropriate, the chance of a mistaken
evaluation lessens. The WISC-R Manual (p. 60) indicates that
the examiner should ask the child to elaborate upon an
ambiguous answer and also to give full credit to any response
that is "equal to or better than" the sample answers.
Notwithstanding these observations, we will not discount Dr.
Williams' suggestion that a black child could be penalized by
Item 12. Item 16 on the information sub-test is, "Who wrote
`Romeo and ...