The dangers of IQ tests

Testing a child’s IQ can pin on a permanent label that denies future learning opportunities, writes Jessica Lahey in an Atlantic review of Scott Barry Kaufman’s Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined. The Truth About Talent, Practice, Creativity, and the Many Paths to Greatness.

As a failing elementary student, Kaufman was tested by a psychologist, who decided he had a low IQ and was “seriously learning disabled.” His parents gave up their plan to send him to an elite private school and instead sent him to a school for children with learning disabilities. “My fate was sealed by a single test,” writes Kaufman.

(Not really. He earned a doctorate at Yale and became a cognitive psychologist. But it wasn’t easy.)

Intelligence changes depending on environment, Lahey writes.

. . . people who believe intelligence is fluid, and can be increased through hard work, are much more likely to put in that hard work and show that intelligence is fluid. Unfortunately, children who believe their intelligence is fixed are far more likely to avoid challenges and simply allow the label to speak for itself. Put simply, children who believe they can become smarter, become smarter through effort and persistence.

Labeling all kids as “gifted” doesn’t work, however. Students who think their intelligence is fixed, whether they think it’s high or low, don’t work as hard as kids with a “growth mindset,” according to Stanford’s Carol Dweck.

For “gifted” kids, that can mean that they are so worried about marring the shiny veneer of that label that they never risk failure, and for the “seriously learning disabled” kids, the grungy tattiness of their label can lead to apathy and hopelessness.

Analyzing learning disabilities can identify what sort of help different children need, Lahey concedes. “I have even recommended intelligence testing for students who, despite their persistence, diligence and effort, are not succeeding in school.”  However, all too often, “a label signals a death knell for future effort, learning, and academic achievement.”

 What if we praised our students’ efforts to learn and grow and improve rather than praised them for showing up at school or on the soccer field, label affixed and prominently displayed? What if we watched those kids carefully, and taught them that they are not the measure of their IQ, but of their efforts to do their very best with what they have?

Yes, but some kids have more than others to work with. Kaufman wasn’t just a slow kid who worked hard.

Kaufman found a book on intelligence in the library and looked up the IQ he’d been assigned at the age of 11. The chart said: “Lucky to graduate high school.” He didn’t believe it, even though his teachers did. Finally, a learning resource teacher said she’d noticed he was bored. “You don’t seem to belong in this classroom,” she said. “Why are you here?”

He left the learning resource room with “his growth mindset and his well-honed skills of grit, diligence, and persistence,” Lahey writes. Now an adjunct psychology professor at NYU, he writes the Beautiful Minds blog on Scientific American. Here’s Kaufman asking Is Your Child Ungifted?

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Comments

  1. Stacy in NJ says:

    The results of a couple of recent studies showed that folks on the Autism Spectrum have inconsistent IQ test results. The results should be, according to the experts, relatively consistent regardless of the test used, but those on the spectrum may show significantly varied results depending on the test and the environment in which it’s administered. They tend to score higher on the Raven Matrices test and lower on the Wechsler. Also, their results are less consistent over time.

  2. handbanana says:

    my mom considered me to be some kind of genius or something when I was a kid, because I tested well and had natural aptitudes for learning and understanding of mechanics. I was “gifted.”

    as a result, she took a complete hands off approach to raising me and focused on her career, leaving me completely alone to fend for myself, for the rest of my life. I am still clawing my way up out of the pit she dropped me in, 25 years later.

  3. Crimson Wife says:

    I’m guessing Kaufman probably DID have some learning disabilities, and the low overall IQ score hid fairly major discrepancies among the subtests. Unfortunately, whatever psychologist tested him obviously wasn’t familiar enough with “twice exceptional” kids (gifted + LD) in order to interpret the results in a helpful manner.

    There’s an old saying about 2E kids having their head in the oven and their feet in the freezer but averaging out to a “normal” temperature.

  4. palisadesk says:

    Kaufman’s story is a reprise of that of Robert Sternberg, who also scored low on an IQ test in grade school but went on to get a PhD (also from Yale, I think) and become a leading researcher in the field of cognitive psychology.

    Two important concepts that these stories exemplify are these:
    (1) IQ testing on young children is subject to many variables and any experienced practitioner will confirm that the results are considered a time-limited snapshot of the child’s intellectual functioning *at that time* and not a measure of some hard-and-fast characteristic. IQ testing in young children is most reliable at the extremes — that is, identifying severely disabled children (on the one hand) and highly gifted ones (on the other) but even these results can change over time. While cognitive ability has a strong hereditary basis, it is subject to environmental effects and epigenetics.
    (2) Given that intellectual ability does have a hereditary basis, what is inherited is not a single point (e.g. IQ 95) but a range of potential development, say from X to Y. A stimulating environment, good teaching, personal traits, physical health and other variables stimulate the individual to develop to the upper end of his/her range, while deprivation minimizes it. This is shown in some of the separated-identical-twin cases: while in most cases, the twins are raised in similar environments (SES, education opportunities, etc) and end up as adults with similar IQ’s, in cases where their environments were *radically* different, they have developed into adults with almost 2 SD of difference in measured IQ, the difference between a ninth-grade dropout and an individual with a college degree..

    Nevertheless, whatever a child’s native ability may be — and we lack the tools to reliably and definitively identify it — s/he will benefit from a solid work ethic and “growth mindset.” Children from cultures that highly prize this mindset often outperform their measured IQ. As teachers, we need to keep the child’s apparent ability in mind, but hold it as subject to revision.

    Points about children on the autism spectrum are well-taken. A movement in the field currently is to assess children not with a single measure but with a cross-battery assessment to get a better handle on their cognitive strengths and weaknesses in specific areas.

  5. Ruth Joy says:

    Accepting the idea of fixed intelligence also has consequences for teachers’ expectations. Better to be like the many Teach for America teachers who tell their students: Work hard, get smart.

  6. Florida resident says:

    There is an expression:
    “This is an exception, which confirms the general rule (or “generality of the rule”.) ”
    May be Engineer -Poet can find some better coined formula.
    Anyhow, this one example does not refute the huge statistical material accumulated by IQ testing.
    For tests for selection to US Armed Forces, the mumber of testees is about 100,000,000 (one hundred million !) and counting, see
    http://www.vdare.com/articles/why-do-we-keep-writing-about-intelligence-an-iq-faq
    With invariable apreciation of the remarkable job being done by Ms. Jacobs,
    Your F.r.

  7. Richard Aubrey says:

    There’s a story, possibly apocryphal, that a teacher in mid school thought she had a class of geniuses. All had high IQ. And it turned out that she was right. The class did very well, substantially better than other classes.
    However, it was later determined that the office had substituted locker numbers–assigned by class and in this case from about 110 up–for IQ.
    Not hard to visualize such a mixup, but I guess I’d wonder if middle school kids all have IQ tests on record.
    I understand “genius” doesn’t start at 110. Not the point. Point is expectations.

  8. palisadesk says:

    Richard Aubrey, you’re thinking of a real study actually done, but the details (locker numbers, middle school) are fictional accretions. The Rosenthal study has been well-reported (and misreported) and that’s where elements like locker numbers come from. Rosenthal and Jacobsen published a book on their study of expectations and teacher effects (entitled “Pygmalion in the Classroom”) in the late ’60′s. Briefly, the teachers involved were told that certain children had been identified as being likely to show sudden and significant academic growth (these children had actually been chosen at random); in fact, few schools do have IQ’s on record for students, but for this study all the students were given a group cognitive ability test, disguised as an achievement test, before the study began. Then teachers were told that the randomly selected students were likely to “bloom” that year. At year’s end, the whole student body was tested again, and both the experimental and control groups showed some gain in IQ (which could have been related to teaching effects), but the gain in the 1st and 2nd grade experimental group — the so-called “bloomers” — was statistically significant, and Rosenthal hypothesized that it could have resulted from higher teacher expectations for those students.

    Later efforts to replicate these results in any systematic way have failed however. We are left with the certainty that teacher expectations (and, more likely, the teacher *behaviors* that result from those expectations) do affect student learning and cognitive growth, but to what extent and how measurably we cannot yet say.

    Here’s a link to a NPR item on the topic (very interesting):
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/09/18/161159263/teachers-expectations-can-influence-how-students-perform

    The Engelmann-Bereiter preschool program in the 1960′s also raised the IQ’s of severely disadvantaged preschoolers, but the gains were attributed to the teaching protocols and did hold up over time, as many of those children subsequently completed high school and college and went on to middle-class or professional careers.

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      Thanks for the info. Very useful.

    • Mark Roulo says:

      “Later efforts to replicate these results in any systematic way have failed however. We are left with the certainty that teacher expectations (and, more likely, the teacher *behaviors* that result from those expectations) do affect student learning and cognitive growth…”

       

      If “efforts to replicate these results in any systematic way have failed”, how are we left with “the certainty that teacher expectations do affect student learning and cognitive growth?” I mean, sure, I believe this, too. But how can we conclude anything from an experiment that hasn’t been able to be replicated?

      • palisadesk says:

        We have the certainty that expectations affect results from our own experience, not from Rosenthal’s study. You are correct, we can not draw that conclusion from his ’60′s work in isolation. Attempts to replicate it have yielded mixed results, thus it is not considered a gold-standard finding. Most of the criticisms revolve around Rosenthal’s methodology.

        But as for expectations, consider also the Hawthorne effect and the placebo effect. These may be hard to measure or to manipulate effectively, but we do know they exist.

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      Palisadesk. Thanks for the info. I figured there was a problem with it due to the availability of IQ tests. Didn’t know if they were routinely available to teachers. Which is to say whether all or most students even took the tests.
      Intuitively, the expectations certainly seem as if they’d have an effect. I mean, on the bottom, if you think a kid is hopeless, you might direct your limited resources elsewhere. If you think he’s got all the potential in the world, you go there. And seeing him blossom is enjoyable.
      What’s hard about figuring that?
      Still, replicating a test like that would be expensive and difficult to arrange without blowing the secret.

  9. Immigrant from former USSR says:

    Up to 3 y.o. our son almost did not speak, and at age about 3 y. o. was subjected to diagnostics by a child psychologist. That was in former USSR; no formal IQ tests. She told us, that if we will be able to find a good school for mentally retarded, our son has may have some chance to graduate from it.
    Eventually we came to the USA, and our son became Professor of MIT, Computer Science, at age 26 (sure, Assistant Prof., tenure-track., not tenured yet.) So what?

    • palisadesk says:

      Immigrant, your experience reiterates my point #1 in my first post above. While IQ as a construct is one of the most empirically validated in behavioral science, the result of any one test of IQ on a child is *always* provisional at best; psychometricians know this well but the general public does not. Adult IQ however is much more stable. When making decisions about placement or program for young children IQ should be only one factor and other measures such as adaptive skill development and social functioning need to be taken into account. The child with much “scatter” in his or her profile should be re-evaluated regularly. It is not unusual for a child who presents as cognitively impaired at age 3-5 to test in the average range (or higher) several years later.

    • Stacy in NJ says:

      The book Late-Talking Children written by Thomas Sowell describes the phenomena of non-verbal toddlers who grow into very bright teens/adults.

      http://www.amazon.com/Late-Talking-Children-Thomas-Sowell/dp/0465038352/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373912119&sr=1-1&keywords=late+talking+children

      • Immigrant from former USSR says:

        Thanks to Stacy in NJ and to palisadesk for valuable comments.
        I have just ordered the said book by Sowell.

  10. I am in Texas, an educational diagnostician. My graduate degree is in academic psychology and special education. As such, I give cognitive (IQ) and norm referenced academic achievement tests to determine eligibility or continue eligibility in special education.

    For learning disability, we don’t use an overall global IQ. It’s fairly useless for our purposes. We look for a cognitive profile of strengths and weaknesses, that is linked by research to demonstrated weaknesses in reading, writing and mathematics.

    With autistic children, a global IQ is fairly useless. With the tests available, both verbal and non-verbal, it is very difficult to punch through the autism features and get a valid score.

    We have 3 children, who bemoan their childhood, since it seems one of their parents were in grad school, and always testing them. (My wife is a school psychologist.) As a result, we have data on our children going back over 20 years, and it is consistent. Usually within 3-5 points.

    The variability of IQ/Cognitive tests has much to do with the the interaction of the child and the examiner. As such, inconsistencies will always be there, when large numbers are studied. But with experienced examiners, it is possible to get data that will help parents and teachers determine a course of action that benefits the student.

  11. palisadesk says:

    Thanks, Mike. Your academic training and job description are quite similar to mine. However, my district (despite more recent developments in the field and emphasis from APA on using neurocognitive assessments to identify patterns of strength and weakness, as you said) continues to use global IQ and a discrepancy model for LD classification. This is true for autism services as well.

    Besides relationship with the examiner, we have found acculturation and school exposure to make a significant difference. We test children at school entry who may be developmentally disabled and have special kindergarten programs for them (also for children with SLI — language impairment). When these children are re-tested two-three years later, some have moved out of the cognitive disability range into the average range. If I recall the research correctly, there is more environmental effect on IQ of children from disadvantaged backgrounds than on that of middle-class children. I work with a population that is heavily very low income and includes refugees and immigrants from the third world so have seen a number of cases like this.

    I especially like your last point: the data we gather by testing the student is valuable for planning and programming to enhance that student’s learning and development. We try to repeat it for classified students at regular intervals (2-4 years).

    It’s also true that students who initially present as “gifted” (on the WPPSI, for instance) may when tested at a later point be in the superior or high average, not gifted, range. We don’t like to formally classify children as “gifted” until age 9.

  12. Stacy in NJ says:

    For all the stories of individuals labeled as disabled or retarded who go on to success there are a comparable number of kids who are labeled as gifted who go on to either life failure or complete mediocrity.

    Human outcome is complex and IQ is only one very limited variable.

    • Stacy in NJ,

      Always, the standing challenge to be met after acquiring new information is: What are you now going to do about it to make the world a better place?

      How many teachers really want to know the IQ of each and every student they teach? My guess is: very few. After all, if there is nothing you can “do about it” in knowing a student’s IQ, then it is a whole lot easier to imagine that all of the students in a classroom are the same — that it is the teaching that matters, not the learning.

      But we all know that the truth is otherwise — that learning trumps teaching whenever the school equations actually give human names to the students being taught. Kindergartners, first graders, second graders, … freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors suddenly do not work as categories when names like Santiago Gonzalez appear on the student roster. Who is that child? Let me introduce you: http://www.rollingstoneme.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=897
      The whole article can be read at:
      cambridgeadvanced.org/wp-content/pdfs/rs-article-dec-2011.pdf

      In the United States of America, the usual response by the public school system to having labeled a child “gifted” is to thereafter ignore the child. Some teachers will assign extra work to the gifted child, that is: the regular in-the-classroom work and the regular homework PLUS some extra assignments. But guess what? The last thing a gifted child wants is more teacher-assigned homework. A gifted child is likely to covet free time much more than a non-gifted child, because a gifted child always has a personal interest or two that is much more exciting and much more inspiring to him/her than anything a teacher might want to assign as busy work. And that is the truth of the matter: most (if not all) homework is busy work for a gifted child. If you want to see a gifted child collapse into tears and then sorrow and then rage, assign that child busy work, that is: waste that child’s time with meaningless homework that teaches nothing that the child did not already know.

      Of course, the inspired approach is to ALWAYS give the gifted child appropriate work to do — work that actually challenges the child to learn something new. But who among teachers can successfully challenge a student like Santiago Gonzalez? What should we do with the gifted student who is a genius?

      In response to President Obama’s first inaugural address on January 20, 2009, I proposed “An Obama Initiative for The United States of America” on April 6, 2009, that I named “Linus Pauling Academy of the Physical Sciences.” On November 30, 2009, I renamed my proposal “NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences” and submitted it for public scrutiny in a dedicated blog at:
      http://nasa-academy-of-the-physical-sciences.blogspot.com/
      I defended my proposal in a dedicated public forum thread at: http://giftedissues.davidsongifted.org/BB/ubbthreads.php/topics/77811/Proposal_NASA_Academy_of_the_P.html#Post77811
      At last count, that forum thread has had 129,960 Views according to the website analytics.

      On June 1, 2011, I established a dedicated blog in which I bundled my “NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences” proposal with two other public high school design proposals that I had developed: “School U.S.A.” (SUSA); and “Edison High School,” which is a design specific to Eugene, Oregon, but which is also applicable to any other city that has several public high schools and a public university. See: http://school-usa-proposal.blogspot.com/

      I wish I could report that something good has happened as a result of my efforts, but nothing at all has happened that I can tell.

      So I went about solving other problems that vex Education in America, especially the problems associated with standards and philosophical underpinnings, and the problems associated with adequately and equitably funding all levels of public education in a reliable way on an ongoing basis. I soon discovered that those problems are solvable, and that, as a consequence, the problems students like Santiago Gonzalez bless us with are solvable, too.

      In “Section. 2.” of “Proposal #6: Public Education” at http://steven-a-sylwester.blogspot.com/2012/01/restated-and-proposed-amendments-to-us.html I have proposed: “The Congress shall require the States to provide thirteen years of tuition-free public education for all United States citizens and all otherwise legal residents from age five through age eighteen. … Thirteen years of tuition-free public education shall not be defined by the completion of a thirteen-year standard curriculum that ends in high school graduation in every case. Some lower-tier Special Education students will remain functionally illiterate despite all teaching efforts while some upper-tier Special Education students will graduate from a community college or a public university before their nineteenth birthday and shall thereby receive their college and/or university education on a tuition-free basis.”

      Stacy, if you wonder why “a comparable number of kids who are labeled as gifted … go on to either life failure or complete mediocrity,” ask yourself: If you had been held back — essentially flunked — during every year of your schooling, at what grade level would you have quit trying to excel? If our public schools are forcing our gifted children to fit in, we are in all actuality forcing them to dumb down — to be mediocre — to do less than their best — to purposely fail. That is the truth of the matter.

      Also in “Section. 2.” at the above link I propose the following national standard: “… 2) Exceptional students shall be individually advanced to the academic level at which they can succeed while being challenged; and 3) Students whose academic skills competency and knowledge proficiency are measured in the aggregate minimally either two years below or two years above age-appropriate-grade-level shall be designated as Special Education students and shall receive educational funding at twice the normal rate (competency and proficiency testing shall be done when requested by a teacher, parent, or student).

      Critics tell me that gifted children do not need (read: deserve) special treatment, because those children will get along just fine by their own doing. Success is supposed to be inevitable for the gifted child. Some do succeed by their own doing, but many do not, perhaps most do not. Who is to be faulted for that? The child?

      Let me tell you with certainty: the gifted child is the victim in that. We adults are to be faulted — and not just the parents. Often, the parents despair at least as much as the gifted child who is the ultimate victim. It is a never-ending fight that is inevitably a lost fight measured by the pity of what could have been, what should have been. My proposal erases that pity and puts in its place an enormous potential for accomplishment.

      But can we afford what I propose? The answer to that question is “Yes,” but our will to make it happen must not waver.

      One thing could be done by itself and most funding problems would thereby be solved, but three things done together would forever restore America completely.

      By itself, the following proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution would permanently solve most funding problems for K-12 public schools in America:
      Re: Article I Section 8. [8]
      The United States shall have one percent (1%) ownership of each and every copyright and patent issued and registered by the United States government. The ownership shall be limited to the pre-tax gross revenues generated by any and all uses of that which is protected by U.S. copyright and patent law, and all such ownership shall be without exception. All revenues earned from such ownership shall be used to fund the free public education guaranteed to citizens by law, with all revenues from patents supporting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics education exclusively and all revenues from copyrights supporting either Arts and Humanities education or Physical Education and Health education exclusively according to the general categories that create the revenues (i.e. computer-related patents support computer science education, music copyrights support music arts education, sporting event copyrights support physical education, and so forth).

      Read my commentary for that proposed amendment at:
      http://steven-a-sylwester.blogspot.com/2011/12/this-deserves-macarthur-genius-award.html

      But two more things added in would probably succeed in making public universities tuition-free through the master’s degree level.
      First: http://steven-a-sylwester.blogspot.com/2012/02/heritage-blog-rejected-comment-truth.html
      Second: http://steven-a-sylwester.blogspot.com/2013/05/oregon-pers-funding-violates-fifth.html

      All the money U.S. public schools would ever need is easily within reach if we can muster the will to take it. Are we gutless? Do we really care? The Obama administration has ignored me at every step, though I have tried mightily to be heard in many ways. As I see it, their measures are bottom-up while my measures are top-down. Understand this: we will never treat our very worst students better than we treat our very best students, and we treat our very best students very poorly way too often. Without a doubt, if we treated our very best students — the truly gifted — with all of the respect they deserve, the very worst students would benefit greatly in surprising and totally unexpected ways. I truly believe that.

      Read: http://school-usa-proposal.blogspot.com/2011/06/letter-to-bill-melinda-gates.html

      God will bless Joanne Jacobs for posting this comment. But God will bless Joanne Jacobs more if she chooses to analyze it in a series of articles.

      Steven A. Sylwester

  13. As a young teacher, I was given my students’ IQ scores AFTER the end of the year. This was an unusual school: Catholic, inner-city, but using a very sophisticated “continuous development” model instead of th4e usual lockstep grades. Anyway, the interesting thing was that the IQ scores were pretty much not a surprise, but with a few very notable exceptions, mostly kids who scored low normal (85 to 95) but whose alertness and thoughtfulness told me that they would do well in life.

    • Florida resident says:

      Dear EB, you wrote:
      “[...] kids who scored low normal (85 to 95) but whose alertness and thoughtfulness told me that they would do well in life.”
      Did they ?
      How long ago was it ?
      Your truly, F.r.

      • Florida resident: I do not know. But I can tell you that my experience tracking the outcomes for literally dozens of relatives tells me that alertness and thoughtfulness are traits that help anyone, regardless of the number of IQ points they appear to have.

  14. Completely agree with this posting. I had a student this year who really struggled the two classes I had her (math and science). She had been tested with low IQ, so she couldn’t get any services because she was supposedly performing at her capacity.

    My colleagues and I got her in an academic support situation and made sure that we all worked with her regularly. Turns out, all she needed was extra practice done well and stable support. She is growing up in a house where her grandmother, who helps her with math, can’t read and an volatile parenting situation.

    I do not doubt that her IQ is low by standard measurements, but she is certainly capable of more than what that one test would have her believe.

    • Patti: I recently read Charles Murray’s Real Education. He advocates for IQ testing (first grade, later repeats as indicated), for all kids, for just that reason and the associated opportunity to diagnose learning disabilities early. He advocates grouping by instructional need, so that kids who need extra help and/or extra time can be identified before they fall behind, so they can fulfill their potential. Most people don’t seem to have problems with that idea, but they do not like Murray’s insistence that the high-IQ kids also get challenged; deeper material, faster pace, more challenging assignments.

      • Mark Roulo says:

        I have also read Real Education and thought Murray was pretty much spot on when describing reality. His policy suggestions don’t seem to be grounded in current political realities, though. I don’t know why he thinks that intelligence testing in the schools leading to different grouping/tracking/whatever will go any differently than when we did this in the 1920s and 1930s. It isn’t like this hasn’t been done before, and the US eventually moved away from it. The REASONS that the US moved away from it still hold. So why does he think it can work politically now?

        • J.D. Salinger says:

          The U.S. moved away from it because it was implemented as tracking in which students were locked in to their designated tracks. Ability grouping is a different way of addressing this problem and Tom Loveless has talked about this in an article he wrote for the 2013 Brown Center Report on American Education (http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2013/03/18-tracking-ability-grouping-loveless). Also, see the book “Curriculum Differentiation” edited by Page and Valli, which gives an example of a Catholic school in which there is “flexible grouping”; that is, students can go into higher tracks based on performance. By senior year in one such school, no students were in the lowest track.

      • Florida resident says:

        Dear momof4:
        I too have read in full “Real Education” by Dr. Charles Murray, in _full_, and I appreciate his other works very much.
        You may also want to read his thin brochure,
        either free PDF file:
        http://www.mega.nu/ampp/murray_income_iq.pdf
        or $4.95 + $3.99 S&H on Amazon:
        http://www.amazon.com/Income-Inequality-Studies-Understanding-Economic/dp/0844770949

      • palisadesk says:

        I’ve read Real Education, and though Murray has some valuable insights, he is woefully ignorant on curriculum, instruction and its effects, as well as the parlous state of pedagogy in many schools at the K-6 level.

        As for IQ testing in first grade, it is completely useless for determining instructional level grouping. At the early stages, children’s mastery of basic word attack skills, number concepts, vocabulary and spelling etc. is very weakly correlated with IQ (about .3) and CBM type measurements offer the ability to determine these issues without expensive formal testing. Remembering that Richard Feynman would not have made the cut for a “gifted” program should make us all reconsider the value of a single number to identify either the genius or the disabled. Enriched and advanced curricula should be available to all students who show the motivation and aptitude for them regardless of formal IQ.

        • Thanks; I don’t have experience with the testing of young kids. I’m in agreement with your last statement as long as the class is not slowed or weakened. In my experience, with my kids, it very often was. Once kids are in the class, there can be lots of pressure to keep them there, even if it means slowing the pace or the requirements. If a kid is willing to spend twice the amount of time on homework and preparation to keep up, fine.

          I’ve been there myself, when I decided to meet my college history requirement with an advanced undergrad/grad course, despite having none of the prereqs (I was in a special program, so could bypass). It was in summer school and I turned out to be the only undergrad in a room of master’s candidates and I sweat blood over the class, especially since I had to do lots of extra reading to fill in background. It was worth it, though, to the point that I took the second half of the class during the following year.

    • palisadesk says:

      “She had been tested with low IQ, so she couldn’t get any services because she was supposedly performing at her capacity.”

      I had a friend like this in high school. We belonged to the same swim club. She struggled with all subjects and worked her {bleep} off to get C-minus and D’s. She only had around 400 on each of her SAT scores (below 400 in Verbal, higher in Mathematical). She could not get into the state university because her scores and marks were too low. She was determined to become a lab technician however and took several years of community college courses, eventually entered the U. of Maryland, got a BSc and worked in a hospital pathology lab, ultimately went back for a master’s and is now in charge of a medical lab in the northeast. Determination and commitment cannot be overrated. It’s true she was a slower learner, but one thing we frequently forget is that the higher you go in your chosen field, the more you can concentrate on areas that are your strengths.

      I have a student now who is convinced she will be a pediatrician. Her academic profile does not suggest this is a reasonable possibility. I encourage her to keep her options open but I limit my discouragement of this possibly unrealistic goal to pointing out the many obstacles and the time and money required. She would not be the first student to surprise me should she succeed.

  15. My daughter has a severe language disorder, ADD, and problems with visual motor integration. These issues translated in both her school psychologist and a neuropsychologist from Kennedy-Krieger telling me that she had a full scale IQ of about 50.

    Both administered the WISC-IV, and the doctor (PhD) at Kennedy-Krieger also gave the Stanford-Binet. I’d specifically requested that any and all IQ testing be non-verbal (the TONI, UNIT, or Leiter would have been appropriate).

    Long story short, IQ tests are only as good as the person giving them. I’m just thankful I didn’t drop the ball and kept looking for someone who could accurately evaluate my child.