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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It's the IQ, Stupid!

Intelligence is the most reliable predictor of academic success.  Intelligence is the demonstrated ability to solve complex problems through abstract reasoning using stored and newly acquired information in constantly changing circumstances.  Abstract reasoning is a purely intellectual process. 

It is not one’s capacity to run, throw, jump, or catch.  Playing sports does not demonstrate intelligence because it is not abstract; sports require physical markers to measure effectiveness.  Terms such as emotional intelligence are oxymoronic.  To attach an adjective to intelligence is to change the phenomenon fundamentally into something other than intelligence. 

Intelligence is also heritable.  The Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD] through its Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) aptly demonstrates this fact.  It uses tests of school achievement for 15-year-olds in the 34 OECD countries, along with 31 other countries or regions.  Steve Sailer examined test results from 2003, 2006, and 2009 and found that when broken down by ethnicity, American students did reasonably well compared to the countries from which their ancestors came.

Testers censor information concerning American performance.  PISA and the U.S. government apparently conspire to keep the ethnic breakdowns of American scores a secret, except for whichever subject is the main theme of that year’s PISA.  Each year, reading, science, and mathematics are tested.  Scores for all subjects are released in mind-numbing detail cross-tabbed for every conceivable factor … except race.  Hiding these results is propaganda.

John Derbyshire argues that if we disaggregate USA students by race, we are up there near the top.  Asian-Americans beat Korea and Japan.  Whites were second only to Finland.  US Hispanics bested all Latin American PSIA countries. American black kids trounced Trinidad, the blackest nation on the PISA list.  This information suggests that we cannot close the academic performance gap between ethnicities.

Our schools are fine.  They are doing as much as can be done with the young people passing through them, with due allowance for race differences in educability.  Test scores are as good as they can be.  If there is a way to get students scoring significantly better on tests than America’s do, no nation on Earth has found that way.  However, we can change how we apply our resources.

Sailer makes the point that children should remain in school learning to be literate and studying civics and math until about 12 years old.  At that time, we should use each student’s academic performance to assess the likelihood of future success.  Vocational or technical training can provide alternative paths to self-sufficiency for those who fail academically, have low cognitive ability, or dislike school.  These schools should offer few, if any, extracurricular activities. 

Doing this would remove those who express dissatisfaction over school attendance by disrupting classes and robbing deserving students of educational opportunities.  It would also mean that to participate in after-school activities, students would have to become scholars first before being athletes. 

Why squander resources trying to educate the ineducable?  A lot of what high-school teachers do is just child-minding; for a lot of youngsters, high schools are just holding pens.  We cannot force education on people who simply cannot perform to standard, and we should stop lowering the academic bar to hide those inabilities.  Cognitive differences exist worldwide; money cannot change that.

May your gods be with you.

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