Intelligence and LO LO9929
Fri, 13 Sep 1996 09:26:55 +1200 (NZST)

Replying to LO9893 --

At the beginning of s really great and thoughtful posting, Ben Compton

" There are those who have said that IQ measures a limited type or form
of intelligence, which makes it a rather myopic test. And, many of these
same people espouse the idea that there are many forms of intelligence --
some making specific reference to "emotional intelligence." "

When I contributed to this thread my point was that it is doubtful that IQ
tests 'measure' intelligence in any useful way at all. I also posted the
preliminary advert for a public lecture.

I have since attended that lecture. It reported on a very comprehensive
piece of research conducted here in NZ, but linked with similar studies in
Australia, UK and the USA. Just to give you a flavour of some of the
points made in a very complex statistical argument:

(1) We inappropriately shoehorn people into IQ bell curves when the
testing is done to the very young in age cohorts where, in fact, the age
of the cohort can have an 11 month spread. This early distortion feeds
through to all subsequent statistical manipulation of test data:

(2) We also inappropriately shoehorn IQ test data from different cultural
groups into the same standardised age-based sets, when in fact there are
clear developmental lags in some ethnic groups (which is based on
different cultural imprinting, not biological or genetic factors). One
consequence of this is that testing done to pre-school and early school
populations tends to create data which labels certain groups as 'below
average', which in turn reverberates throughout their lives and biases the
educational judgements made about them:

(3) The foregoing deficiencies are compounded by different country's
policies in relation to student admission and class yearly promotion. In
fact holding back practice (as opposed to espoused policy) is
predominantly a function of demographic issues (school rolls,
overcrowding, and so on) rather than of measured performance in tests.
The consequence is that holding back (while doing absolutely nothing for
the development of the children held back) gives even greater distortions
to the results of age cohort IQ testing, because the age range in a given
cohort is extended by holding back).

One of the consequences of these different polices for holding children
back is that it comes to be believed that Scottish people (for example)
are much more intelligent than English people (for example). In fact the
observed difference is a function of different policies on class
advancement of children feeding through into IQ test scores. Neverthelss
the illusion leads us to the myth that Scottish education must be much
better than that of anywhere else.

Conversely it is likely (to date only hypothesized by the body of research
I am reporting) that the phenomenon of inner US city school failure is a
function of testing of divergent age cohorts (a function itself of
admission and class promotion policies) of ethnic groups whose cultural
imprints leads to a predisposition of a slightly lower pace of development
in the early years. One of the fascinating data reported in the lecture
was that in NZ, for example, the developmental lag in pre-school Maori
boys as compared with European boys, feeds through into the statistical IQ
data in such a way that testing done to 8 and 9 year olds and upwards
means that a Maori boy who gets the same number of items correct in a test
as a European boy, is likely to be given a lower IQ score by the scaling

And I haven't even got on to the gender issues!!!!!

Phillip Capper
Centre for Research on Work, Education and Business
PO Box 2855
New Zealand


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