You know the expression, “He’s like a dog with a bone.”

That’s how I feel sometimes in this business.

One of the bones that I chew on repetitively and just can’t shake is the notion of the “IQ” being one of the primary reasons a struggling child is not given what he/she needs.

I think I already have about five different blog posts on the subject over the years, so here we go again.


A while ago on this topic I referred to my “GQ (i.e., Grumpiness Quotient)” skyrocketing.  To illustrate why my GQ rises with this issue, let’s look at two different children:

Child A, a seven year old second grader, Keith, is below average in reading (15%ile in word reading skills, oral reading fluency, spelling and writing). Upon being tested in school, Keith obtained an IQ of 107 (68th percentile, but still in the average range). In addition, the school assessed Keith with a bunch of subtests that assessed his “phonological processing,” all of which clustered around the 20th percentile.

In short, Keith was struggling and he needed a lot of support and remediation. Keith was found to be eligible for special education services and started receiving small group remedial instruction.

Child B, Mick, age 7, a classmate of Keith’s, is in the exact same level of reading as Keith (15th% ile).    In contrast, though, Mick received an IQ of 87, placing him at the 19th %ile, or what I call the “Zone of no Zone” when it comes to IQ scores.  Phonological processing issues similar to Keith’s were also found.

A closer look at Mick’s IQ profile showed that he demonstrated above average functioning in nonverbal intelligence (65th %ile).   Compromised by weaknesses in active working memory, processing speed and language functioning,  Mick’s FSIQ of 87 had much more variability than Keith’s.

Since there was so much variability, the score of 87 really was not representative of his legitimate ability or potential.  In a major domain of intelligence, Mick was solidly above average.

So, even though Mick and Keith were reading (and spelling and writing) at the same exact levels,  Keith was eligible for services,  but Mick was found to be ineligible for any remedial services.

Why?  Because his IQ was in the “Zone of No Zone.”

Mick’s parents were flabbergasted and at a total loss when they were told that he would not get any help.   They knew how agonizing completing work was for Mick and saw the struggling each grade.

When they asked the team what they should do for Mick, they basically said that there was nothing that they could so at this point and that perhaps they should call a physician (with implication of putting Mick on medication).

I see the Mick types all the time. They typically fall in the “Zone of No Zone,” that is between approximately the 15th to the 25%ile (IQ scores between 85 – 92, roughly).  With scores like that on the bell-shaped curve  in the “Zone” it is very difficult to get a big enough statistical discrepancy for the team to find the child eligible for services.

If I had my way (which I almost never do),  the FSIQ would be secondary, essentially ignored in a situation like Mick’s.  He demonstrated at least average ability in a major domain of cognitive functioning.  He needs help.

If a child is drowning how do we not throw him a life preserver?

Takeaway Point
I’m going back to my bone to gnaw on.

Maybe it will help reduce my Grumpiness Quotient (GQ).  Maybe for comfort I will listen to the real life Mick and Keith.

Copyright, 2019
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