Mismatch between Academic Performance and IQ Scores
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
My son Bradley (5 years old) was having some behavioral
problems at the end of the school year, and the school
recommended we have him tested. My husband and I thought he
might be ADHD because he seems more hyperactive and
impulsive than most boys his age, and thought perhaps this
was the source of his behavioral problems at school. We also
thought he might be getting bored because he just missed the
cut off for kindergarten last year, so he was the oldest kid
in his class (he'll turn 6 on Sept 27 and will be entering
kindergarten this fall). He's a quick learner, and despite
his hyperactivity, does not seem to exhibit any learning
From age two, all of his pre-K teachers have said he was
very bright. He started reading at 3.5 years and now reads
well above the level of the kids in his pre-K class. We
actually thought he might be gifted. Anyhow, we just got the
results of the test back and they don't make sense to us.
The issue we were most concerned with is his hyperactivity
as he is slightly above normal, but not clinically
significant. Academically, he scored well above average in
all disciplines, including math, vocabulary, reading, etc.
In fact, he scored in the 99.9 percentile in reading and is
assessed at an overall reading level of grade
3.0. Yet his IQ came back at 89, which is below average.
I don't understand the discrepancy between his academic
performance and his IQ level. How can a kid with a low IQ be
doing so well academically especially in reading? I asked
the evaluator about redoing the IQ test, but she claims it
is valid with a very small percentage error, and they
couldn't get a fair assessment if they gave him the same
test again within such a short time frame. She also says he
scored low on long term memory skills which doesn't ring
true with what we see at home. He can watch a movie and
recall passages word for word six months later. He can even
tell you the name of the movie and who said what.
Because of his test results, small stature and relative
immaturity for his age, the evaluator is recommending we
keep him back in Pre-K this year. Personally, I think his
would be a HUGE mistake. Not that it means a lot, but I
administered an IQ test to him that I found online (for kids
age 4-6) and he scored over 130. So, where do we go from
I would appreciate any advice you can offer. Thank You.
A: I am very surprised looking
at the IQ score, and I would also be very concerned if my
kid shows such a mismatch. Something appears terribly wrong
here, especially with the description you gave of your son
abilities. It is still acceptable to get an average score of
about 100 points, but in this case, the scores are below
average with does not match your description. Furthermore,
with below average scores, he would not be able to perform
(that too above average) the tasks that you mentioned.
Unfortunately, the evaluator goes by the book and it is true
that a time period is required before a retest and the
percentage of error is very small (but it is still
I am not sure what test was used and the kind of item
tested, but you may want to get him privately tested and get
a fair interpretation of the results. Online tests may not
be very reliable indicators, but at the same time, the
discrepancies cannot be that large. So, it is essential that
he gets tested again (preferably using a more standardized
test - WISC or SB).
You are right; holding him back would be a big mistake.
Especially since he is indeed the oldest boy in his class.
For all you know, his hyperactivity may just be a
manifestation of him boredom and inability to express that
feeling. You would need to speak to his school authorities
to allow him to move on based on his school performance and
not the IQ scores. I feel that you have a strong case here
and they should co-operate.
In the meantime, observe his behavior and try getting him
involved in activities he enjoys after school. Children with
high levels of intelligence need to keep busy; or else a
bright mind in a dull environment may look for other ways to
cope with their cognitive advancement, which usually shows
in behavioral problems. Hope the advice has been helpful and
best of luck.