Sunday, April 21, 2013

Intelligence testing

The article I read this week focused on intelligence testing and questioning its effectiveness. It outlined how standardized tests do predict future grades in school. They do not however predict future career success. "Psychologists used to say as a kind of an "in" joke that intelligence is what the intelligence tests measure."  Intelligence test scores can predict the quality of secondary education a person will receive. The article then looks into the fact that people from higher socioeconomic groups generally score much higher on aptitude tests than persons from lower socioeconomic groups.

Thinking about my time in school I find it obvious that IQ tests are weighted by systems and those who perform well receive an enhanced school experience. When I was in elementary school I was tested and placed in a program called Reach, formerly known as gifted and talented or "GT". Students placed in the program were ones who were not only recommended for testing by teachers, but also achieved a minimum score of 130 on the test.

To refer back to the article, one of the caveats of intelligence testing is there are problems testing people with significant cultural differences. For instance, vocabulary words can be outside of the lexicon of knowledge for many with a different first language than English. Could the opposite of this be true as well?

As a child of a professor of sociology I was exposed to intelligence testing at very early ages. Multiple times between the ages of 5 and 7 I was tested, the scores were always confidential. This article makes me wonder if my experience taking these tests at early ages positively skewed my results later in life. When I took my IQ test to enter Reach I may have only achieved my score based on my experience, not solely on my IQ. Fortunately for me I scored high enough to get in and therefor received all of the perks these earmarked students received. Looking back I question why I was chosen to be tested while many of my friends in school were not, maybe if they had been exposed to the curriculum of the Reach students, their IQ's may have been raised.

Using IQ testing as a filter of students seems wrong to me but as it is, it carries power. It can put one on a path to success while others are placed on a path to mediocrity. I think this leads to an exclusive education while education should be inclusive of all. It's agreed upon by psychologists that "giftedness" measured by psychological tests is a key factor in life success. I wonder if low psychological test scores are a key factor in life failures?

No comments: