What Is IQ and Why Is It Important? - Learning Lab

What Is IQ and Why Is It Important?


The first time you probably hear about your child’s IQ is when there is some question about their abilities in school, whether it’s above or below expectations. This often misunderstood concept is foreign to most people, perhaps with the exception of those quick tests that they offer online. You know the ones to which I refer. But, IQ in relation to what it means for assessment, academics, and even expectations, merits serious attention.

Two students playing chess to improve their cognitive skills.

IQ stands for intelligence quotient and in the most basic of terms, it is defined as: A measure of the intelligence of an individual derived from results obtained from specially designed tests. There are several measures that are typically used by professionals completing assessments, including the Wechsler series, the Woodcock-Johnson, and the Stanford-Binet. All of these empirically derived assessment measures are based on a variety of factors that test creators use to talk about intelligence, including verbal intelligence, visual and verbal reasoning skills, processing speed, memory, and other components. The choice of test is based on the specific characteristics of the individual, and all measures mentioned above have been normed on varying age groups, ethnicities, and socio-economic status.

What is gained from the results of an IQ test is a global intelligence score and information about areas of strength and weakness. IQ tests have a mean of 100 and the majority of the population will fall in the Average range. Outlying scores will be used to define intellectual disabilities and giftedness, and are typically scores below 70 and above 130 respectively. IQ scores are also referenced when determining a learning disability, where the goal is to see if such students are achieving below a level that would be expected, based on their intelligence quotient. Those who are not performing at the expected level may have a learning disability in one or more areas.

IQ is important in understanding abilities and overall achievement. A child with an IQ of 70 will likely have a more difficult time understanding and completing work in a traditional classroom. A child with an IQ of 130 may be “bored” or disinterested in the work in the traditional classroom. Understanding an individual’s overall ability level is important in understanding how they can and will function in an academic setting and helps parents and teachers to understand their capabilities with regard to academics and life in general. IQ can also help the school to know how to approach a child when teaching them… as in, knowing their cognitive strengths and weaknesses allows the teacher to use the methods of instruction that will be easiest to understand or will make what is taught “stick.” It is important for parents to set realistic expectations based on their child’s ability level, and while IQ is not everything, it definitely can help offer some guidance with regard to ability level and what a child is capable of achieving.

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