For many parents, their child’s IQ is a source of mixed emotions. They are curious about how smart their child is; yet, they are anxious about the results. IQ scores can generate pride or give rise to disappointment. Knowing your child’s IQ can create a sense of sadness that a child many never fulfill certain goals and dreams, or it can evoke frustration that a child is not living up to his/her potential. To be sure, anxiety due to an IQ score can create an emotional seesaw. So, what does it really mean and how is it determined?
What Is IQ?
IQ is often a shorthand term to refer to intelligence quotient. Tested intelligence is more a descriptive concept than an explanatory one. In short, IQ is merely a representation of an individual’s ability level at a certain point in time, under speciﬁc circumstances, based on a speciﬁc norm group. Therefore, while IQ is typically stable across time, there are a variety of factors (emotional, physiological, environmental) that may change IQ scores. Current research also suggests that cognitive development is not complete until the early 20’s.
What Does IQ Actually Measure?
There are many different tools with which to measure cognitive functioning. Most tests measure verbal comprehension and perceptual reasoning skills. Some updated cognitive measures place increased emphasis on the components of working memory and processing speed, which reflect current theories and practice of cognitive assessment in children. As such, an IQ score generated by an online test may be very different than a score generated from a comprehensive assessment administered by a licensed psychologist.
Why Test IQ?
Intelligence tests are helpful in aiding our understanding of students and how they learn best. As part of a psycho-educational assessment, intelligence tests can be used to obtain a comprehensive measurement of general cognitive functioning.
Intelligence is often considered to be predictive of a student’s academic performance (although it is only one of several factors). IQ tests can also be used as part of an assessment to identify intellectual giftedness, mental retardation, and cognitive strengths and weaknesses. Results contribute to the overall picture when making educational recommendations and decisions.
By observing a student’s response style and studying the results from an IQ test, or cognitive measure, we can learn about a student’s work style. Elements such as approach to problem solving, reaction to timed tasks, level of frustration tolerance and reaction to difficult tasks, and level of persistence are often evident. It can be quite useful for parents to know their child’s IQ. But it is important to have an understanding of what IQ is and what it is not. For example, while IQ may be a strong predictor of one’s potential for school success, it is not always a good predictor of success in life.
Anatasi, Anne, Psychological Testing Sixth Edition Macmillan Publishing Company, 1988. Goleman, Daniel, Emotional Intelligence, Bantam Books, 1995.
Wechsler, David, WISC-IV Administration and Scoring Manual. The Psychological Corporation, 2003.
www.apa.org Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, American Educational Research Association (AERA), I999.