Exploring IQ
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What is IQ?

IQ, or Intelligence Quotient, is a measure of relative intelligence determined by a standardized test. The first intelligence test was created in 1905 by Alfred Binet and Théophile Simon to determine which French school children were too “slow” to benefit from regular instruction. Binet came up with the idea of mental age when he noticed that children are increasingly able to learn difficult concepts and perform difficult tasks as they get older.

Most children reach the same level of complexity at about the same time, but some children are slower reaching those levels. A 6-year-old child who can do no more than a 3-year-old has a mental age of 3. Wilhelm Stern divided the mental age by the chronological age to get a “Mental Quotient.”

Mental Age/Chronological Age = Mental Quotient

A 6-year-old able to do only what a 3-year-old can do has a Mental Quotient of .5 or ½ (3 divided by 6). Lewis Terman later multiplied the Mental Quotient by 100 to remove the fraction and the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) was born!

Mental Age/Chronological Age X 100 = Intelligence Quotient

The 6-year-old with the Mental Quotient of ½ has an IQ of 50.

The majority of people have an IQ between 85 and 115.

How Are IQ Scores Used?

IQ tests are now given to determine the kind of academic accommodations children need in school. Because most children fall within the average IQ range of 85-115, they don't require any special accommodations.

Children who get an IQ score of 70 and below qualify for special accommodations in school. That is two standard deviations below the center average of 100. Children who score two standard deviations above the center (an IQ score of 130) do not always qualify for special accommodations.

Of course, in both cases, the IQ score alone is not what determines the need for special accommodations.

Children with a score higher than 70 can also qualify for special accommodations if they have a learning disability such as dyslexia. Even gifted children, generally considered to be those with IQ scores of 130 and higher can qualify for special accommodations if they have a learning disability. These children are known as twice-exceptional or 2e kids.

The problem 2e kids encounter, though, is that they will often appear to be average kids, kids with IQ scores within the 85-115 range or maybe the range of 95-125. They are smart enough to have found ways to work around their disability. As a result, the giftedness hides the disability and the disability hides the giftedness. They end up getting no special accommodations for either.

What is the Significance of IQ?

Think again about what IQ is. Remember, it is mental age divided by chronological age multiplied by 100. What does that mean for an eight-year-old child with an IQ of 100, one with a IQ of 70, and one with an IQ of 130? Solve the equations to find the mental age.

Solving the equation Mental Age/8 X 100 = 100 will get you a mental age of 8.

Solving the equation Mental Age/8 X 100 = 70 will get you a mental age of 5.6.

Solving the equation Mental Age/8 X 100 = 130 will get you a mental age of 10.4.

People understand that the child with an IQ of 70 will need some special accommodations in school and when you understand what the IQ score means, it is easy to see why. An eight-year-old child with a mental age of under six will need some help doing what most other eight-year-olds can do.

Now consider the eight-year-old with the IQ of 130. It should be just as clear that a child with that score needs special accommodations. He has the mental capacity of most ten-year-olds. Asking an eight-year-old with an IQ of 130 to do the work of average eight-year-olds is like asking a ten-year-old to do that work. An eight-year-old with an IQ of 145 has the mental age of a child of eleven and a half years old. Would we ever consider giving an eleven and a half year old work meant for an eight-year-old?

The higher - or lower - the IQ, the greater the discrepancy between chronological age and mental age. While we always want to make sure that children with low IQ scores get the services they need, we should also want to make sure that children with high IQ scores get the services they need.

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