Raising IQ Scores Education Term Paper

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raising IQ scores/Education. Question: Should the IQ cutoff for mental retardation be raised to 80? Six sources. APA.

Should the IQ Cutoff for Mental Retardation be raised to 80?

The debate regarding IQ tests continues to rage into the new millennium. Every decade has a myriad of new studies supporting or contradicting the last accepted theories and studies. There are new studies which indicate that the IQ scores in the United States has risen by 3 points per decade, "indicating that intelligence is not stable but is flexible with regards to environmental influences." However, after vast research, no one knows just exactly what is causing the rise in IQ scores. Moreover, there is an ongoing debate in regards to raising the IQ cutoff scores for the mental retardation assessment. The American Association of Mental Retardation's definition of mental retardation is "a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior as expressed in conceptual, social, and practical adaptive skills...This disability originates before age 18." However, Pennsylvania Office of Mental Retardation states "the developmental period as before the 22nd birthday for the onset of eligibility for mental retardation services and supports in accordance with the current laws and statutes." "Any condition that impairs the development of the brain before birth, during birth, or during childhood" is attributable to mental retardation. Moreover, "a person is considered to have mental retardation when his intellectual functioning level (intelligence quotient or IQ) is below 70 to 75." Causes of mental retardation range from drug use, environment, poverty, genetics, cultural deprivation, to the unknown. Ninety percent of those classified with mental retardation have IQs above 50, and in fifty to seventy-five percent of these, the cause is unknown. Those with severe mental retardation, an IQ of 50 or below, the cause originates from genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome, a chromosomal disorder, and fragile X syndrome, a single-gene disorder. "Chromosomal disorders affect about 7 out of 1000 infants. Single-gene disorders affect about 1 in 1500 births. More than 750 genetic disorders have been identified that cause mental retardation." Defining mental retardation poses numerous factors involving legal rights, education, and the placement of children. Furthermore, although the cutoff IQ scores are arbitrarily set, "they are not inconsequential."


Although, there are many factors involved regarding a child's intellect, IQ standards are the criteria that state educators use to determine placement of children. States are reimbursed for excess costs incurred for educating children with learning disabilities, however, there are limits to the number of children a state can reasonably accommodate financially. Should the IQ cutoff be raised to 80, there would be a substantial increase in the number of children who would qualify for special needs education. This would indeed place a financial hardship on many states, especially those that are already operating on skeletal budgets. Iowa has raised it IQ standard to 85, while California poses the question, "How many children do you want to qualify?" One might see this as simply tapping into state and federal money for expansion of programs that may take years to implement, if at all. Good intentions do not always lead to good results. To raise the IQ cutoffs of classified children with learning disabilities will most likely still leave many lost in the cracks of an already burdened system.

Most children are identified as mentally retarded or learning disabled by teacher referral, not by IQ scores. Even those who score on IQ test within the range of mental retardation are unlikely to be classified. "Only children referred by their general education classroom teacher for severe and persistent underachievement are likely to be identified." Moreover, quite often it is only when a child displays a behavioral problem do parents and professionals become aware of a learning disability.

Given the many variables regarding intellect, such as environment, including poverty and culture, is seems unreasonable to attach much importance to IQ tests as a measure of mental retardation. Without considering these variables, ethnic groups are singled out with substantially higher mental retardation rates. According to one study, using IQ 85 as the cutoff score, "approximately 10.9% of Caucasians and 45.6% of African-Americans would achieve tested IQs below that point...using IQ 70 as the cutoff score one finds 1.07% of Caucasians and 9.85% of African-Americans scoring below that point." Therefore, it seems that raising the IQ cutoffs…

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