There is no straight and simple
answer to this question: it depends on how long the child is
in the adoptive family, on the nature of referral issues, and
on the situation with the language in general, etc. Each and
every time this must be decided individually, there is no "one-size-fits-all"
answer. I have developed a template of testing procedures for
screening (on arrival) and for full evaluation (both on arrival
and within the next 2-5 years in the country) for IA children
ages 3 to 14+. You can look at Screening
for School Placement and Services on Arrival
to see my recommendations for the initial screening tests and
procedures, and at Full
Psychological, Educational and Developmental Assessments
for the similar recommendations about the
full assessment. I have to repeat again and again: tests are
only instruments; the most important thing is the interpretation
of the results. And here a lot depends on who does the interpretation;
if this specialist has
experience with IA children and is
familiar with the issues of institutional behavior and dynamics.
In general, psychological assessments are done with different
goals in mind, including one of eligibility for a service, placement,
or an acceptance to certain program/school. The goals determine
the selection of instruments. I talk about all these in more
details in the online class: Course
BG3 - Initial Psycho-Educational Screening And Full Assessment
of an Internationally Adopted Child.
As for the specific issue of using non-verbal
tests, the best one on the market is UNIT (Universal Non-Verbal
Intelligence Test). It surpasses any other non-verbal test in
practically all aspects, including psychometric properties,
diversity of the measured cognitive abilities, and relevancy
to school performance. I use all the existing non-verbal tests
with IA children, and my personal professional preference is
for UNIT as the most appropriate instrument for IA children.
The really big problem with all non-verbal tests (including
my favorite UNIT, although to a lesser degree) is that they
have a relatively weak predictive validity (from .4 to .7) for
academic functioning, which is mostly language-based. Would
you buy a thermometer that shows a correct temperature in only
40 to 70 percent of all measurements?