A Critique of the IQ / Achievement Discrepancy Model for Identifying Specific Learning Disabilities

Albert F. Restori, Gary S. Katz, Howard B. Lee


When the United States Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act in 2004 (IDEIA 2004), local educational agencies (LEA) were permitted to use a Response-to-Intervention (RTI) approach for identifying children with possible learning disabilities for special education. Furthermore, IDEIA 2004 no longer required LEAs to establish an IQ-achievement discrepancy for determining a Specific Learning Disability (SLD). Although federal law no longer mandates the need for an IQ-achievement discrepancy for determining an SLD, most school psychologists continue to employ this approach for the assessment of children at-risk for SLD. Furthermore, some researchers suggest that although the IQ-achievement discrepancy model may not be the best approach for identifying children at-risk for SLD, school psychologists should continue to use intelligence tests as part of the assessment process. The current paper (a) provides a brief review of the IQ-achievement discrepancy model, (b) reviews concerns of using intelligence tests within a RTI framework, and (c) reviews some of the major criticisms regarding the IQ-achievement discrepancy model.


Learning Disabilities; IQ Discrepancy Model; Response-to-Intervention; school psychology; special education

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