States' eligibility guidelines for mental Retardation: An update and consideration of part scores and unreliability of IQs


Mental retardation (MR) has traditionally been defined as a disorder in intellectual and adaptive functioning beginning in the developmental period. Guided by a federal definition of MR described in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, it is the responsibility of each of the United States to describe eligibility guidelines for special education services. The purpose of this study was to examine eligibility guidelines for MR for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. This study examined the terms used to describe MR, the use of classification levels, the cutoff scores, and the adaptive behavior considerations for each state. In addition, this study examined guidelines for consideration of intelligence test part scores and consideration of the unreliability of IQs through consideration of the standard error of measurement (SEM) or an IQ range. As found in previous studies, results revealed great variation in the specific eligibility guidelines for MR from state to state. The greatest variation appeared to be across the adaptive behavior considerations. Approximately 20% of states (10) recommend consideration of intelligence test part scores, and approximately 39% of states (20) recommend attention to unreliability of IQs through consideration of the SEM or an IQ range. © Division on Developmental Disabilities.

Publication Title

Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities

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