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Low Intelligence Scores

Psychologists who identify low levels of thinking ability will describe the child as having below average intelligence. A score of sixty-nine or less results in this classification. Unfortunately, this description has potentially negative effects. A child may think the meaning of the low score is a definite sign that they cannot learn and will fail to learn in order to verify the classification. Historically, there is a negative meaning attached to low IQ scores. Therefore, the suggestion that a child has mental retardation can be devastating to the child's family. Due to the nature of errors in testing and the fact that intelligence can be changed, scores that fall at or around seventy, should be interpreted very carefully. Finally, teachers and parents may expect that children with this classification cannot learn, therefore giving them challenging tasks is not necessary. If children are not expected to learn, given a low IQ score or classification, then no one may demand higher performances from them.

It is very difficult to predict outcomes based on the score of an intelligence test, because these tests do not measure other important factors, such as motivation. In addition, intelligence tests are sometimes used inappropriately with minority children who may not understand certain items because of cultural differences. Therefore, any intelligence test score must be fully understood and interpreted with great care.


Kamphaus, Randy. Clinical Assessment of Children's Intelligence. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1993.

Mackintosh, N. J. IQ and Human Intelligence. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Nuthall, Ena, Ivonne Romero, and Joanne Kalesnik. Assessing and Screening Preschoolers: Psychological and Educational Dimensions, 2nd edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1999.

Laura A. Webber

Additional topics

Social Issues ReferenceChild Development Reference - Vol 4Intelligence - Measuring Intelligence As A Comprehensive Process, Environmental And Genetic Influences On Intelligence, Low Intelligence Scores