Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal 12: 129–142, 2000.
© 2000 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
IQ vs phonological recoding skill in explaining differences
between poor readers and normal readers in word recognition:
Evidence from a naming task
MERCEDES RODRIGO LÓPEZ & JUAN E. JIMÉNEZ GONZÁLEZ
Universidad de La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
Abstract. The aim of this study was to investigate whether differences in reading performance
between poor readers and normal readers could be better explained by phonological recoding
deﬁciences than IQ. A sample of 132 Spanish children was classiﬁed into four groups
according to IQ (<80; 81–90; 91–109; 110–140) and into two groups based on reading skills
(poor readers vs normal readers). A word naming task was also administered. We manipu-
lated the word parameters (length, positional syllable frequency, and word frequency) and
nonword parameters (length and positional syllable frequency) to ﬁnd out whether students
with reading disabilities would have more difﬁculties than normal readers in naming words
under conditions that require extensive phonological computation. The results demonstrated
that there were differences between Spanish children who were normal readers and those who
were poor readers, independent of their IQs.
Keywords: Reading disabilities, Phonological recoding, Word recognition, Intelligence
quotient, Linguistic parameters
Among school children diagnosed as having poor reading ability, usually two
groups are identiﬁed: those who demonstrate general learning backwardness
(i.e. garden-variety poor readers) and those who are one or two years behind
in reading in spite of having average or above-average IQ (i.e. dyslexics).
Children with dyslexia are also described as having learning disabilities (LD)
or speciﬁc reading disabilities.
The most common criterion in differentiating children with LD in read-
ing from those who have general backwardness is the ‘discrepancy’ between
intellectual potential, expressed as IQ, and reading performance. If IQ is in
normal range and in addition if there is a large discrepancy between these two
measures, then the child is diagnosed as having speciﬁc reading disability.
Based on this diagnosis, educational programmes are designed.
However, using the concept of ‘discrepancy’ to classify reading disabil-
ities leads to many problems. In the ﬁrst place, the term intelligence implies