The Learning Disabilities Challenge

A different challenge to the IQ construct has come full force from experts in the field of learning disabilities, who propose, either explicitly or implicitly, to eliminate IQ from the learning disabilities (LD) or specific learning disabilities (SLD) assessment process because it is nothing more than a vestige, an unwanted relic from the past. Though these arguments have filled recent pages of the Journal of Learning Disabilities (Siegel, 1999; Stanovich, 1999; Vellutino, Scanlon, & Lyon, 2000), neither the anti-IQ special educators, nor their seek-and-destroy mission, has changed much from a decade earlier (Siegel, 1989; Stanovich, 1989), when the same LD journal published a special issue devoted to the IQ controversy.

In this section, we present the anti-IQ arguments of a few of the leading spokespersons in the field of LD or SLD assessment, notably Siegel (1999), Stanovich (1999), and Vellutino et al. (2000). All of these critics propose the elimination of the IQ-achievement discrepancy from the SLD definition and two (Siegel, Stanovich) propose not using IQ tests at all for SLD assessment. We briefly present rebuttals to their arguments, highlighting and synthesizing points made by Kaufman and Kaufman (2001a; 2001b), Nicholson (1996), Kavale and Forness (2000), Flanagan, McGrew, and Ortiz (2000, Appendix H), and Flanagan, Ortiz, Alfonso, and Mascolo (in press). For a richer, more complete discussion of the issues surrounding this complex controversy, consult the aforementioned sources. For a thorough, thoughtful delineation of the opposing perspective, consult Stanovich's (2000) excellent book on reading.

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