A New Definition of IQ Accommodates All Kinds of LearnersJuly 8, 2019
In North Carolina’s Gaston County Schools, Principal Meghan LeFevers (NC ’17) and School Psychologist Tammy Wilson are pioneering a new way of looking at IQ scores.
By Meghan LeFevers and Tammy Wilson
What if we existed in an educational landscape that truly addressed the whole child? A landscape that celebrated the unique learning styles of all students, not just those who excel in the verbal skills so central to today’s schools?
At Tryon Elementary, we started looking at this issue because we felt that we were missing the mark with our students—that they just weren’t getting the chance to develop confidence in their abilities. Here’s how we’re trying to use what we call “full scale IQ scores” to help students with disabilities develop confidence and purpose, increase positive behaviors and boost academic performance in the school setting.
Rethinking our standards
Have you ever participated in a meeting to review psychoeducational testing and handed out evaluation reports filled with numbers and unfamiliar vocabulary?
What if we explained these results to parents in a living manner, providing information on not only students’ weaknesses, but also their strengths?
What if we, as a school, could better use the information to make immediate changes to our students’ environment?
Using the infographic above, we lead parents through the interpretation of a traditional psychoeducational evaluation with purpose. We follow these steps:
- Follow the IEP processes as mandated by IDEA.
- No change to psychoeducational reporting format.
- Provide information to teachers and school staff to make purposeful decisions on school and class jobs, roles in group work, and extended activities in the school day.
- Assist in long-term planning for future careers.
- Revisit information at regular intervals to ensure changes in student interest and skills are noted.
Changing school culture
For years, educational stakeholders from the federal to school level have tried to increase proficiency and efficacy in the students with disabilities category. What if the answer we have been looking for does not live in academic curricula, but in the way we provide purpose and access to a predominantly verbal educational environment? By giving students parts of their day where they are inherently successful, we help them find their purpose in our school family.
With one male student in particular, we were mystified. We could not determine what we were missing. Why were our interventions not working when we implemented them with fidelity? We had an epiphany when we looked at his recent testing. Ninety-five percent of his day was spent on tasks that were not in his strength areas. Could this be causing his behaviors?
We established a plan to highlight his strengths in spatial and non-verbal reasoning. He became our school handyman and works with a mentor weekly to build and showcase items he creates for the school.
Perhaps what we have been looking for has been right there all along. Much like adults, students take ownership and pride when they are given tasks within their skill set. What if this was the answer for increasing student attendance, reducing student behavior, and making meaningful change in the lives of children?
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