Gender bias in IQ-discrepancy and post-discrepancy definitions of reading disability

David L. Share, Phil A. Silva

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The present study investigated the hypothesis that the higher prevalence of reading disability (RD) often observed among boys is partly an artifact of gender bias in the prediction of reading from IQ. The relevant regression statistics derived from a sample of more than 900 children revealed a statistically significant intercept bias. Predicted reading scores for boys were systematically overestimated, thereby inflating IQ-reading discrepancies; the converse was found for girls. When defined separately for girls and boys, severe underachievement in reading was found to be equally prevalent in both genders and, furthermore, was associated with qualitatively and quantitatively similar patterns of deficits. Because the bias arose from general differences between boys and girls in reading score distributions (a lower mean and greater variance for boys) rather than from differences in IQ scores, gender bias poses a potential threat not only to traditional IQ-discrepancy definitions but also to post-discrepancy definitions that are based solely on reading score cutoffs. Future classification criteria for RD need to take heed of the possibility that when the distributions of reading scores for boys and girls are not identical, performance cutoffs designating low achievement that are based on data pooled from both genders are likely to result in the overidentification of boys with RD and the underidentification of girls with RD.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)4-14
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Learning Disabilities
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 2003

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Health(social science)
    • Education
    • General Health Professions


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