Discrepancy Between Achievement and Intelligence Test Scores
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
My 9 year old daughter took the MAP test in Missouri last spring (3rd
grade). She scored 780 out of 780 in mathematics and 694 out of 790 in
communication arts. Both scores place her in the advanced column. Her
Terra Nova NP is 99 for both tests. Before these test results were in
she was given a brief screening test for the gifted program which she
scored too low for the program to test her further. I am told that while
both of her scores are very impressive that her math score is extremely
outstanding. I don't have any further break down of the scores.
My question is, should I be asking for more information? Should I push
for my daughter to be tested further for the gifted program in her
school? Even if she isn't accepted for the gifted program I plan to
challenge her further at home. Any advice is appreciated.
It is very possible to get different range of scores between
intelligence and achievement tests, as the two are not the same thing.
It could also give an indication of some kind of learning difficulty. As
it is, most tests vary in their content, appropriateness with different
populations, and usefulness as a basis for educational requests.
Therefore, it is important that tests (especially individual rather than
group) are conducted by a trained and experienced tester who would be
able to document the strengths, relative weaknesses and advise on the
suitability of a program to cater for the educational needs of the
child. High IQ scores are predominantly used as a main criterion for
screening gifted individuals for specific programmes. However, if only
one test is allowed for such screening, there is a possibility of
missing out gifted children who may not fulfil the criteria for cut-off
scores as some abilities emphasized on a particular test may or may not
correspond with the child's strengths.
Screening tests for gifted programmes are usually intelligence-type
testing. Lower IQ scores as determined by an intelligence test simply
indicate that the child is probably not able to master the components
tested in the test. The tester would be able to advise if the scores are
even, especially if the full score is low but there are subsets of the
test in which the child scores very highly or vice-versa. This appears
to be the case for your daughter as he scored very high in Maths. Many
other external factors may cause lower scores on IQ test (test anxiety,
physical state, extreme pressure to perform, etc.).
Above average scores on achievement test indicate the ability for the
child to better grasp the concepts and items tested on the test. It
should be noted that when a child's intelligence test score is
significantly below their true ability, it may be an indication of
certain learning disabilities. This may be due to the way information is
presented in school and the way innate intelligence is tested on
The assessment of children's abilities should always lead to a better
understanding of the child. This is to enable appropriate
recommendations and interventions to be made, regardless of whether that
assessment is an individual or group assessment of ability or
achievement, or on specific performance.
It would be best to get further information especially on the breakdown
of the scores. It would be a good idea to get him checked and tested by
an educational psychologist to rule out any concern and if there is a
problem, start intervention immediately. You have the right to know the
reason your daughter is not performing well on the screening test. Many
a times, schools would just use the final score without looking at the
breakdown due to time constraints. At the end of it, a good match
between a child's abilities and educational material is crucial to cater
for their needs. Here's wishing you all the best!