Volume 26, Issue 2 (1997)
Issues in the Use and Interpretation of Intelligence Tests in the Schools
Dawn P. Flanagan, Judy L. Genschaft
Issues regarding the use and interpretation of intelligence tests have been discussed and debated for decades. In the 192Os, discussion of these issues focused primarily on the psychological and psychometric efficacy of intelligence tests as well as the social consequences associated with their use (Haney, 1981). In the late 196Os, the focus of discussion and debate shifted to issues regarding cultural differences and unfairness (e.g., Jensen, 1969). During the 1970s and 198Os, the controversial issues surrounding the use of cognitive tests assumed a school based perspective as a result of the enactment of Public Law 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (reauthorized by Congress as the Individuals with Disabilities Act [IDEA] in 1990). Throughout these decades, discussion and debate were sparked by litigation that questioned the effectiveness of intelligence tests for use with various cultural and ethnic groups (e.g., the 1979 Larry P v. Riles case) (cf. Robinson-Zanartu, Sattler, Reschly, & Sandoval, 1994). Although litigation and controversial issues regarding the cultural equivalence of cognitive ability tests continues to fuel the debate (e.g., Helms, 1992, 1997), the educational reform movement in the United States in the late 1980s and early 1990s brought about a shift in focus.
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