Subj:    THE SPECIAL ED ADVOCATE, VOL. 1, NO. 15 (NOV. 2, 1998)
Date:    11/2/98 8:34:33 PM Pacific Standard Time
From: (Pete Wright)

The Special Ed Advocate
The Online Newsletter about Special Education and the Law

November 2, 1998 Vol. 1, No. 15

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The Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter about special
education legal issues, cases, tactics and strategy, effective
educational methods, and Internet links.

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(1) Pat asks: "Why are my child’s IQ scores dropping?"

(2) Resources: Language Problems

(3) Links: Information About the "Matthew Effect"

(4) Janet from Maine asks: "What does the law say about IQ test scores
in the IEP?"

(5) Transition Resources

(6) Subscription and Contact Information


Pat from Michigan asks:

Have you heard of a child's IQ dropping? This happened to my son and I’m
concerned about it. Paul is 13 years old. He has a Central Auditory
Processing Disorder and ADHD. He is also color blind, left-handed (but
not red headed) :-)

When he entered Kindergarten, his skills were about 6 months behind his
peers. By second grade, he was about 1.5 years behind, by 4th grade he
was 2.5 years behind. We had private tutoring which helped him gain
skills and close the gap. He still has language problems, but after
private tutoring, he is finally reading at the 5th grade level.

On the most recent evaluation, his Full Scale IQ had dropped by 9
points! On his report cards, he gets average grades and we are told that
is doing "just fine".

ANSWER: IQ scores will often vary some from evaluation to evaluation. In
most cases, IQ scores don’t change dramatically unless there has been an
unusual event (injury, trauma, etc.) When we see falling IQ test scores,
we ask if this is due to the "Matthew Effect."

The "Matthew Effect" is a term coined by Keith Stanovich, a psychologist
who has done extensive research on reading and language disabilities.
The "Matthew Effect" refers to the idea that in reading (as in other
areas of life), the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

If children with disabilities do not receive adequate remediation, they
read less – and learn less from reading - than non-disabled children.
Because some IQ sub-tests measure information learned from reading, poor
readers will score lower on these sub-tests. Over years, the "gap"
between poor readers and good readers grows.

The "Matthew Effect" was a key issue in James Brody’s case (see below
for links).

James is a child from North Carolina who has dyslexia. James was found
eligible for special education in 3rd grade. After three years of
special education, he was re-tested. According to the new testing, his
IQ dropped from 127 to 109. Two years later, James was re-tested again –
his IQ had dropped even further.

Two experts, Dr. Rebecca Felton, from Southport, North Carolina, and Dr.
Rick Ellis, from Norfolk, Virginia, testified that James’ declining IQ
test scores was an example of the Matthew Effect - and was evidence that
James had not received appropriate remediation. The Administrative Law
Judge and the Review Officer agreed and found that the school district
had not provided James with an appropriate education.

To read the parents' Letter to the Stranger, describing their son's
problems and asking for help, go to

To read James Brody's own "first person" story about his own case, go to

To read the Review Officer's Final Decision, go to


There are several books in the Advocate’s Bookstore about childhood
language problems. You may want to check these out:

“Childhood Speech, Language, and Listening Problems: What Every Parent
Should Know” by Patricia McAleer Hamaguchi.

“Words Fail Me: How Language Works and What Happens When It Doesn't” by
Priscilla Vail.

“In Words Fail Me,” Priscilla Vail explores the links between reading,
writing, listening and speaking, how these skills are learned, and what
happens when the process breaks down.



We referred Pat to to Dr. Margaret Kay, psychologist from Pennsylvania
who testified about the “Matthew Effect” in one of Pete’s cases. Her
excellent website is

Dr. Kay suggested this link for more information about the Matthew

The article notes that: "Students who do not 'learn to read' during the
first three years of school experience enormous difficulty when they are
subsequently asked to 'read to learn.' Teaching students to read by the
end of third grade is the single most important task assigned to
elementary schools."


Jan from Maine writes:

Our daughter, Sandra, is an 11th grade student with speech language
processing problems. She is 17 years old and we are working on her 15th

This year, the IEP team included the results of a 1996 WISC-III in her
IEP. This is the first time that IQ scores have been included on her
IEP. I questioned the need to include these scores on the IEP. I have an
article stating that the child’s IQ scores should not be included on the
IEP. My daughter’s IEP team insists on including the scores.

We have some concerns. First, the results of the 1996 WISC-III differ
greatly from prior evaluations. Her Verbal, Performance and Full Scale
IQ scores declined dramatically. Two months ago, in August 1998, we had
an independent evaluation done. The results of the August 1998
evaluation are more in line with prior testing. Because the IEP team
insists that the 1996 IQ test results must be included in the IEP, we
asked that the results of the recent 1998 evaluation be cited.

The IEP team is questioning the private evaluator's findings. They are
unwilling to record the 1998 evaluation results as most current.
Finally, they agreed to include some written information from the
private evaluator’s report because they feel it is "interesting."

I have scoured your site but am unable to find any information about IQ
test results on an IEP. HELP!

We are concerned that if the IQ test results (Verbal, Performance & Full
Scale IQ scores only, none of the sub-test scores) are included on the
IEP, those working with Sandra will have lower expectations and she will
be treated as a 'slow learner'.

P.S. Your 'site' is fantastic. I can't believe I just 'hit' on it
yesterday. THANK YOU!

ANSWER: Jan, there is nothing in the IDEA about including or excluding
the child's IQ scores as part of the IEP. The proposed Regulations about
IEPs say this about the child's Present Levels of Educational

“Section 300.347(a)(1) requires that the IEP for each child with a
disability include "* * * a statement of the child’s present levels of
educational performance, including--

(i) How the child’s disability affects the child’s involvement
and progress in the general curriculum; or

(ii) for preschool children, as appropriate, how the
disability affects the child’s participation in appropriate activities."

For more information about IEPs, check our article:

You should also read the actual statute which is at

Since the IEP team is refusing to include your child's most recent IQ
test scores in her IEP, write a nice polite letter to the team. (Before
you write the letter, read our article "The Art of Writing Letters" at In your letter, discuss
your daughter’s recent evaluation - include the new test results if you
like. Tell the IEP team that you want them to attach this letter to your
child’s IEP as the "parent's position."

In your letter, include information that you think your daughter’s
teachers should know. Did you know that Wechsler IQ scores are not a
true measure of intelligence? The IQ score is a composite of 10 sub-test
scores. These sub-tests may inadvertently measure the adverse impact of
the disability on the child’s achievement, not the child’s actual
knowledge or ability. Later, provide actual copies of your letter and
the 1998 private sector evaluation to your child's teachers.

You are correct to be concerned about low expectations in special
education. Too often, special education “dummies down” the curriculum,
rather than ensure that the child acquires reading, writing, and
arithmetic skills.


(5) Transition Resources

Many parents of high school students are concerned about their child’s
transition from high school to "life after school." We have added The
Complete Guide to Special Education Transition Services (by Roger
Pierangelo and Rochelle Crane) to the Advocate’s Bookstore.

This practical guide provides parents with information to survive and
deal with special education procedures, rules and regulations. It
explains the phases of the child's special education, from early
intervention, working with special education teams, placement, and
individual education plans. The guide includes forms, letters and
checklists to familiarize parents with paperwork they may encounter.

It includes appendices of helpful information including a glossary of
special education terms, forms used by the Committee on Special
Education, organizations for special children, types of special
education tests.

One reviewer wrote: "The Parents' Complete Special Education Guide gives
you a comprehensive hands-on resource filled with practical information,
tools, and advice to help you ensure that your child receives an
appropriate education in the least restrictive environment."
(6) Subscription and Contact Information

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Copyright 1998 Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright. All rights

The resources at this site are copyrighted by the authors and/or
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Pete and Pam Wright
The Special Ed Advocate
P. O. Box 1008,
Deltaville, Virginia 23043.