When children are assessed for special education typically they are given a test called the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – V (WISC –V).
Within the WISC-V there are seven subtests that comprise an overall score called the Full Scale Intelligence Quotient (FSIQ). The subtests tap different skill domains, such as verbal and spatial functioning, active working memory and processing speed.
Most of the time children with learning issues display a wide range of variability on these domains, often being well above average on one or two tasks, while well below average on others.
In order for children to be classified (that is receive an IEP), there needs to be a very significant discrepancy between the FSIQ and a composite score in an academic domain.
Some states have set a 22 point discrepancy in order to receive any help.
This 22 points standard is very tough to obtain.
Let’s take scenario #1 with 8 year old Brody, a child who is struggling in reading and spelling. Upon being tested his FSIQ came up above average (FSIQ = 110, 70th %ile), while reading came in well below average (Reading Composite = 82, 12th %ile).
With this 28 point discrepancy, Brody was offered direct services to remediate his reading. Everyone smiled around the table, shaking hands when his IEP was written and signed.
In scenario #2, Ava, also age 8 and struggling with reading, had a broad range of variability in her intelligence test profile. With verbal intelligence above average, other areas were below. Putting the scores together to derive an overall score, she came up in the lower portion of the average range (FSIQ = 93, 27th %ile).
Even though Ava’s functioning in reading was at the exact same level as Brody’s (Reading Composite = 82, 12th %ile), Ava’s parents were told her 11 point discrepancy made her ineligible to receive any services.
There was nothing that would be done for her.
You can imagine how the mood was around the table.
There was no smiling or shaking of hands.
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