School Psychology and Special Education Students’ Placement Decisions: IQ Still Tips the Scale

Corinne R. Smith, Howard M. Knoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Syracuse University's Psychoeducational Teaching Laboratory attempted to evaluate how well it was transmitting the principles of multidimensional and nonbiased assessment practices to its students. School psychology and special education graduate students were asked to make program placement decisions for a child when given data about IQ, adaptive behavior higher than IQ, and academic achievement. Results indicated that the school psychology and special education programs were equally successful in training students to seek least restrictive school placements. Their decisions reflected a greater degree of integration with nonhandicapped students than might be expected from either the child's IQ or adaptive-behavior data alone. However, no matter what the order of presentation of IQ and adaptive-behavior data, IQ had a powerful paralyzing effect on further flexibility in problem solving. For these students, the mainstreaming ideology had taken hold, but the IQ information had not been demystified. If these findings are supported in replications, definite implications arise regarding the manner of presenting IQ information when making placement decisions. It has been known for a long time that IQ is not highly related to our educational system's goal of post-school adult adjustment. Therefore the recent development of adaptive-behavior measures, although imperfect in conceptualization and construction, is viewed positively. Their impact upon school placement and programming decisions, relative to other measures, will depend on future reliability and validity research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-64
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Special Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Rehabilitation


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