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What Is Your Bell Curve IQ?
by Peter W. D. Wright, Esq.

"Knowing how to use the bell curve is more important than knowing the law."- Pete Wright

To be a successful advocate, you must learn about tests and measurements - statistics. Statistics allow you to measure your child's progress or lack of progress (regression) using numbers.

You need to learn how to use the bell curve to measure educational progress. You also need to learn about standard scores, percentile ranks, and standard deviations.

The principles of tests and measurements are not difficult to learn. You use statistics in many areas of your life. When you read articles about social and economic change, politics or the weather, you are reading about statistics.

The biggest obstacle to learning is likely to be your personal fears and insecurities. Some parents believe they cannot understand test results. If you believe you cannot understand tests, it is time to change your beliefs!

Pete teaching the bell curveIn our law and advocacy training programs, we give participants a quiz (pre-test) and an exam (post-test) to measure what they learned. As part of the exam, each person draws the bell curve freehand and label the vertical lines that represent standard deviations. They write in the percentile ranks for standard scores. They also answer several questions about standard scores and percentile ranks.

Few people can do this on the first quiz. By the end of a program, more than 75 percent of participants have perfect scores on the bell curve!

Now it's your turn. Can you answer these questions correctly?

Bell Curve Test

Two years ago, Johnny had a standard score of 85 on the Woodcock Reading Mastery test. His percentile rank was _____. On recent testing, his standard score was 70, which is a percentile rank of _______. His standard deviation on that test was _______.

On another test of reading skills, his oral reading rate was at the 16th percentile rank, which is the same as ______ deviations above / below (circle one) the mean.

On the Wechsler intelligence test, his IQ fell from 115 to 85, from the ______ percentile rank to the _______ percentile rank.

What percent of children have a standard score of between 85 and 115? _______.


To get the answers to this test, send a blank email to


and be sure to put BELL CURVE IQ in the subject line. You will receive an immediate emailed autoresponse with the correct answers to the Bell Curve IQ Test.

If you do not receive an email within a few seconds, check the email address - make sure you sent a blank email to bellcurve@wrightslaw.com

What was your score? If your score was 0, don't despair - you are in the same boat as most of the people who attend our training programs. But, by the end of the program, most have a perfect score, and they can free hand draw the bell curve and add the deviations, standard scores, and percentile ranks!

Your Game Plan

Here is a game plan to plug these gaps in your learning. First, you need to study tests and measurements. There are three ways to approach this task.

1. Read the article, Tests and Measurements for the Parent, Educator, Advocate and Attorney


2. Read Chapters 10 and 11 about Tests and Measurements in our book, Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy (the FETA book).

Tip: Read these chapters or the article three times. Use a highlighter. Make margin notes. Do the homework assignments at the end of both chapters.


3. Complete the 1.5 hour multimedia training program, Understanding Your Child's Test Scores. You'll learn how to draw the bell curve and how to use your child's test scores to create powerful progress graphs. You'll also learn about standard scores, percentile ranks, subtest scores, composite or cluster scores, and subtest scatter.

Now, take the Bell Curve IQ test again. To get your answers, send a blank email to bellcurve@wrightslaw.com

What was your score this time? Were you surprised by your progress? Were you surprised to see how easy it is to learn the bell curve?

Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy by Pam and Pete Wright


If you are not satisfied with your score, read Chapters 10 and 11 about Tests and Measurements in the FETA book again.

Be sure to do the homework assignments at the end of both chapters.


Understanding Your Child's Test Scores CD-ROM Training


Review the training program again. You can review and replay the multimedia program, study the bell curve and graphs as often as you like.

Practice until you get a perfect score.

"I went through my child's tests and pulled out tests that were administered more than once. I converted standard scores to percentile ranks, plotted the scores out on a graph, and brought these graphs to the next IEP meeting. The IEP team was stunned - and agreed that my child needs a more intensive special education program. Thank you for making me learn the bell curve!" - Marie from Maryland

"I attended your program and want to share a story with you. In a meeting with our advocacy staff, I was asked to explain the discrepancy theory. Imagine my joy in being able to step up to the easel and draw a bell curve freehand (with standard deviations), then explain!" - Cindy from Tennessee

Another Wrightslaw Quiz

Special Education Legal & Assessment Terms Vocabulary Quiz

How Much Do You Know About Writing Effective Letters?

What's Your 504 IQ?

Law School Final Exam - Special Education Law & Advocacy


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About the Authors

Peter W. D. Wright, Esq., and his wife, Pamela Darr Wright are the authors of Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition and Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition . The Wrights built the wrightslaw.com and fetaweb.com websites and publish The Special Ed Advocate, the free online newsletter abo
ut special education law and advocacy.

Pete and Pam also do training programs about special education law and advocacy. To see if they are coming to your area soon, check the speaking schedule.