IQ Changes: Which Scores Matter?


Our child was tested in first grade and got an FSIQ score of 129, then in sixth grade was retested and got a score of 105. In between they were found to have dyslexia, but received no intervention until fifth grade. Can that loss ever be recouped? Is the first grade score more relevant to capabilities/intelligence or is the sixth grade score? Which should be used in determining expectations and appropriate educational setting?

Dawn Franklin, MA

Ask the Experts

Lisa Rappaport, Ph.D

Lisa Rappaport is a neuropsychologist, specializing in the treatment of children with LD, ADHD, and developmental disorders. She is also an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

When considering IQ as part of educational planning the most current scores are the scores that are relevant.

It is important to know a few things about IQ. IQ typically regresses to the mean (i.e. gets closer to the average IQ score). This means that if a young child does extremely well on the IQ test, chances are as they get older they will not score as high; likewise if a young child has areas of weakness on the IQ test but does not have an intellectual disability or other cognitive issues, their score may improve over time.

If a child is from a family where there was a lot of language and social interaction from birth on, it is easier for that child to do well on the IQ test when they are quite young. If a child is from a home where there is not a lot of interaction with adults (e.g. language, play, puzzles, etc.) but they are exposed to those things when they get to school, the IQ can go up.

As the demands of the IQ test increase, it is not a surprise to see a regression toward the mean for the reasons explained above. Furthermore, IQ is fluid and can always go up or down. Depending upon where the child lost the IQ points, there can certainly be improvement. For example, if the child’s vocabulary and critical thinking skills become more sophisticated in middle and high school, then the verbal IQ might increase. If the child did poorly on working memory tasks but develops a better attention span scores in that area can increase. This is true for the five different indexes on the IQ test.

Related Smart Kids Topics

Ask the Experts