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ERIC Number: EJ776079
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Oct
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 8
ISSN: ISSN-1934-9556
Commentary on Simon and Lichten's "Defining Mental Retardation: A Matter of Life and Death"
Bellini, James
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, v45 n5 p347-350 Oct 2007
This article presents the author's comments on Simon and Lichten's "Defining Mental Retardation: A Matter of Life and Death." Lichten and Simon (2007) argued for the use of a Total Quotient (TQ) that combines existing IQ and adaptive functioning scores into a single index. They proposed that the TQ index will improve the accuracy of mental retardation diagnoses in court cases, particularly in capital cases, and, hence, would make a court's decisions fairer and more consistent. The argument that Lichten and Simon (2007) advanced in advocating for TQ is based on interrelated claims pertaining to the reliability and validity of TQ and its component scores as well as how using TQ impacts the prevalence rate for mental retardation. Here, the author argues that Lichten and Simon's (2007) case in advocating for the use of the TQ further reifies the test score as an individual characteristic, and that this can only lead to less accurate decisions, whether made by a school district, a community agency, or a court, because of what is left out of consideration. If indeed defining "mental retardation" can be a matter of life and death, it is the responsibility of experts in assessment to help ensure that these decisions are based on the most reliable and valid data available. The author believes that the use of TQ in capital cases would result in more rigid and less humane decisions overall because these decisions will be based on a criterion that is less precise and more ambiguous that nonexperts may appreciate.
American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. P.O. Box 7065, Lawrence, KS 66044-7065. Tel: 785-843-1235; Fax: 785-843-1274; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A