The modern field of intelligence testing began with the Stanford-Binet IQ test. The Stanford-Binet itself started with the French psychologist Alfred Binet as a standard way for psychologists to quickly and easily compare the psychological functioning of different people. As Binet indicated, case studies may be more detailed and at times more helpful, but the time required to test large numbers of people would be huge. Unfortunately, the tests he and his assistant Victor Henri developed in 1896 were largely disappointing (Fancher, 1985).

Later on, Binet worked with physician Theodore Simon on the problem of retardation in French school children. Between 1905 and 1908, their research at a school for boys in Grange-aux-Belles, France led to the development of the Binet-Simon tests. Employing questions of increasing difficulty, this test measured such things as attention, memory, and verbal skills. Binet cautioned people that these scores should not be taken too literally because of the plasticity of intelligence and the inherent margin of error in the test (Fancher, 1985).

In 1916, Stanford psychologist Lewis Terman released the "Stanford Revision of the Binet-Simon Scale" or the "Stanford-Binet" for short. With the help of several graduate students and validation experiments, he removed several of the Binet-Simon test items and added completely new ones. The test soon became so popular that Robert Yerkes, the president of the American Psychological Association, decided to use the test to develop the Army Alpha and Army Beta tests, which helped classify recruits. Thus, a high-scoring individual would get a grade of A (high officer material), whereas a low-scoring individual would get a grade of E and be rejected (Fancher, 1985).

Since the Stanford-Binet got its name, it has been revised several times to give us the current Stanford-Binet 5. According to the publisher's website, "The SB5 was normed on a stratified random sample of 4,800 individuals that matches the 2000 U.S. Census. Bias reviews were conducted on all items for gender, ethnic, cultural/religious, regional, and socioeconomic status issues. Validity data was obtained using such instruments as the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, Fourth Edition, the Stanford-Binet Form L-M, the Woodcock-Johnson® III, the Universal Nonverbal Intelligence TestTM, the Bender®-Gestalt, the WAIS®-III, the WIAT®-II, the WISC-III®, and the WPPSI-R®." Low variation on individuals tested multiple times indicates the test has high reliability. It features Fluid Reasoning, Knowledge, Quantitative Reasoning, Visual-Spatial Processing, and Working Memory as the 5 factors tested. Each of these factors is tested in two separate domains, verbal and nonverbal, in order to accurately assess individuals with deafness, limited English, or communication disorders. Examples of test items include verbal analogies to test Verbal Fluid Reasoning and picture absurdities to test Nonverbal Knowledge. In conclusion, the test makers assure people the Stanford-Binet 5 will accurately assess low-end functioning, normal intelligence, and the highest levels of giftedness (Riverside Publishing, 2004). Despite this recent revision, some controversy remains as to the accuracy and bias of this test; however, many psychologists believe the evidence available shows that the Stanford-Binet test is valid, and it remains a popular assessment of intelligence.

Students with exceptional scores on this test may be deemed bright, moderately gifted, highly gifted, extremely gifted, or profoundly gifted.