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.