IQ Testing and Learning Difficulties Assessments
In our practice nowadays, it has been observed that people are more and more concerned about the performance of their young children at school. Any remarks concerning development or intelligence from teachers will trigger a visit to a specialist, mainly the psychologist and an IQ test would be requested.
IQ testing is a method used by psychologists to measure what is generally considered intelligence. The concept of IQ, or "Intelligence Quotient" was first introduced by French psychologist Alfred Binet in 1904.The most important criterion in diagnosing a child as learning disabled is the IQ test. The aim of an IQ test is to measure the intelligence of a child, which supposedly is an indication of the child's potential.
Intelligence testing began in earnest in France, when in 1904 psychologist Alfred Binet was commissioned by the French government to find a method to differentiate between children who were intellectually normal and those who were inferior. The purpose was to put the latter into special schools where they would receive more individual attention. In this way the disruption they caused in the education of intellectually normal children could be avoided.
However, Binet himself cautioned against misuse of the scale or misunderstanding of its implications. According to Binet, the scale was designed with a single purpose in mind; it was to serve as a guide to identify children in the schools who required special education. Its intention was not to be used as “a general device for ranking all pupils according to mental worth.”In addition, Binet feared that IQ measurement would be used to condemn a child to a permanent “condition” of stupidity, thereby negatively affecting his or her education and livelihood.
Few people realize that the tests being used today — of which the IQ test continues to be the most popular — represent the end result of a historical process that has its origins in racial and cultural bigotry.
So What Are We Actually Measuring?
If an IQ test is supposed to measure a person's intelligence, the question is: What is intelligence? Is it the ability to do well in school? Is it the ability to read well and spell correctly?
According to most definitions, intelligence is made up of the skills of logical reasoning, problem solving, critical thinking, and adaptation. Most IQ tests consist of subtests measuring various qualities, such as factual knowledge, short-term memory, abstract reasoning, visual-spatial abilities, and common sense.
IQ tests are norm-referenced and compare one child's performance to a large group of children of the same age. Although IQ tests are good predictors of how well children will achieve in school, they should be used along with other assessments to get a full and accurate picture of how a child learns. IQ tests do a good job of predicting academic success.
Intelligence is also always measured relative to a particular culture; "culture free" tests of intelligence do not exist. They are not good at measuring such qualities as interpersonal skill or creativity. Although IQ scores tend to be fairly stable, IQ will vary over time.
In our practice at Apollo Bramwell Hospital we make use of the Wechsler tests, which are among the most common individually administered IQ tests. They currently include the WISC-IV (age 6-16 years), the WAIS-IV (age 16-89 years), and the WPPSI-III (age 2.5 - 7 years). The assessment report will note any subtests that are significant strengths and weaknesses in a child's profile and provide information about areas which need more attention or which must be subjected to a different approach. Statistical significance is a vital diagnostic tool on the WISC-III. Results of tests however must be interpreted in the light of other information about the person. Psychometric test results can be open to misinterpretation, and factors other than learning disability can affect results, for example psychiatric illness or drug use.
Apollo Bramwell Hospital,