Understanding IQ Scores in the Classroom

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EngineA primary issue about interpreting an IQ score is that errors commonly occur in the analysis of IQ tests. Intelligence tests measure a variety of mental skills, which are lumped together and called “intelligence.” The result is an IQ score. This number is supposed to be a measurement of a child’s general ability. 

The problem is that the broad IQ score does not reveal scores for each individual skill. In fact, an average or above average IQ score may result in the misleading assumption that ALL the underlying mental skills required for good learning or reading are equally high. If a student performs below expectations, it is likely that one or more of the necessary skills are significantly weak, thus signaling a learning struggle but not pinpointing the source of the struggle.

This is why IQ scores tend to either mask or overlook learning problems that deserve deliberate and specific attention. To further illustrate the problem with IQ scores, here’s an analogy:

Say your car’s engine developed a clunking sound, and you took it to the repair shop to be checked. The mechanic performed five diagnostic tests and reported the results as an “average” — just as the misleading results in the way evaluating skills is done with IQ scores. 

On four of the tests the engine tested beautifully — a perfect 100%. The fifth score, however was 0%. If the mechanic told you that the car’s overall score was 80% — “better than average…there’s nothing to fix” — and gave you the keys, you would not be happy to hear the same old clunking noise in the engine as you drive away.

The point is, averages can conceal real problems. An average or above average IQ score may result in the misleading assumption that all the underlying mental skills required for good learning or reading are equally high.

In the area of IQ scoring, children with an IQ of 120 (100 is considered average) might still have an undetected — potentially limiting — skill problem that could show up at any point during their education.

From Professional Learning Board’s online continuing education course for teachers: Cognitive Skills – Understanding Learning Challenges

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One Response to “Understanding IQ Scores in the Classroom”
  1. Zeke says:

    This article misses the point of IQ testing. The IQ test devised originally by Binet was devised to predict the probability of academic success for student in public schools in France. Our current Stanford-binet test fairly accurately predicts that probability in American schools. The article is accurate in describing the effects of disabilities that prevent a student from achieving the academic successes predicted by his or her IQ score, but that is not a flaw in the application of IQ tests. In fact, a large discrepancy between predicted success and actual performance is a well known indicator of a possible learning disability.

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