Estimating Potential Levels of Intellectual Functioning

A discussion of the results of intelligence testing can be considerably enhanced by including estimates of the person's potential level of intellectual functioning. An analysis and discussion of the individual's potential broadens the usefulness of the report on several grounds. The reader of the report learns about an exceedingly important yet not readily visible dimension of the person's makeup. This information specifies the strength that is potentially attainable if impediments did not hamper a fuller expression of the patient's capacity. Thus, the subject's potential for growth is suggested by estimating optimal intellectual functioning. The information about this aspect of the person's potential for growth consequently enriches the perception of the individual in both present and future considerations.

An analysis and discussion of the patient's potential intellectual capacity necessarily focuses on the factors that interfere with the expression of this potential. An estimate of intellectual potential can be derived from analyzing the experiences that interfere with intellectual functioning. These impeding experiences may have several sources; for example, the effect of such variables as emotional conflict, disruptive anxiety, organic impairment, cultural conditioning, lack of conventional intellectual stimulation, and decreased opportunities for interplay with the environment that are ordinarily encouraged in economically advantaged settings. Any of these variables can affect the I.Q. score significantly. Whenever they are found to be relevant, it is appropriate to analyze their influence and to discuss these findings as part of the overall report of intellectual and cognitive functioning and I.Q. level. This analysis enables the reader of the report to understand the patient's potential and its inhibition so that constructive decisions about goals and placement for the person can be made.

From the data collected in the administration of the intelligence test, including the I.Q. scores, subtest scores, and computations involving these scores, there are several ways to estimate the patient's potential. The following sections present three techniques for estimating potential or maximal levels of intellectual functioning.

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