kitchen table math, the sequel: school raises IQ

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

school raises IQ

This bears repeating.

School raises IQ.

It does.

There's no question about this. (Or rather, a scientific consensus exists on this question.)

"Substantial evidence of the effects of school attendance on the development of IQ has existed for some time. A detailed review of over 50 studies using naturalistic observation, post-hoc statistical comparisons, and cohort-sequential analysis concludes that there is an association between enhancement of cognitive skills related to IQ and schooling (Ceci, 1991). These studies, conducted throughout the 20th century, comparing schooled and non-schooled populations, have estimated that the enhancement of IQ by schooling ranges from 0.3 to 0.6 of an IQ point for every year of school competed. Importantly, the association between IQ and exposure to formal education is not only due to children with higher measured IQ staying in school longer." (Blair et al)

source:
Rising mean IQ: Cognitive demand of mathematics education
for young children, population exposure to formal schooling,
and the neurobiology of the prefrontal cortex
(pdf file)



And here's Engelmann:

We had shown, however, that all the disadvantaged black kids we worked with could learn to read and perform basic arithmetic operations in the preschool and that the average IQ gain of these kids was 24 points.

source:
War Against the Child's Academic Abuse of Children
Siegfried Engelman

Note: Engelmann raised these children's IQs 24 points in the preschool years alone.


By the same token, bad schools lower IQ.

Poor schooling lowers intelligence and handicaps children intellectually for life.... their intelligence is steadily eroded because the synapses in their brain are inadequately tuned and shaped by the planned structured experience that good teachers provide.

This is precisely what happened in some rural school systems in the southern states of America during the 1970s. Education was so poor in some of these systems that intelligence was more badly eroded the longer children stayed in the system. As a result, the IQs of the older children in a family who had been in the school system longer were routinely lower than those of their younger brothers and sisters whose brains had not yet suffered the great synaptic hunger which comes from poor education.

[snip]

In one study, black children who had moved from the south to Philadelphia had their IQ scores raised more than half a point for every year they spent in this better school system.
Mind Sculpture
by Ian Robertson


nature, nurture and gene expression

None of this means that IQ is "environmental" as opposed to "genetic."

Back when I was on the board of NAAR, geneticists were constantly telling us that there was no such thing as a nature/nurture split. To ask whether a phenomenon was "genetic" or "environmental" was wrong.

I found that a difficult concept to absorb, but I think I've got a handle on it these days.

The concept that finally helped me "get it" -- assuming that I do get it -- was the concept of gene expression.

Genes have to be expressed; they have to "speak."

A gene can be silent, as it is when one identical twin has schizophrenia while the other twin does not.

Both twins have vulnerability genes for schizophrenia.

But the genes are expressed in one twin, silent in the other.

Moreover, when a gene is expressed it can be expressed weakly or strongly.

Obviously IQ is "genetic."

But the genes that affect IQ have to be expressed to do what they do, and it is the environment -- which includes other genes! -- that determines whether and how they'll be expressed.

Good schools raise IQ.

Bad schools lower IQ.

I assume college raises IQ, too.

Don't know it -- assume it!

gene expression

good schools raise IQ, bad schools lower IQ, part 1
good schools raise IQ, bad schools lower IQ, part 2
good schools raise IQ, bad schools lower IQ, part 3
Seth Roberts on IQ

fuzzy math makes you smarter
IQ quiz
school raises IQ
intelligence is verbal, perceptual, and image rotation
math isn't English

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Assuming that it can be shown that math majors have the highest average score on the analytic portion of the GRE, does that mean that only the smartest people major in math or that learning math itself raises one's ability to reason?

I'd like to hear from math majors.

Similarly, if it can be shown that philosophy majors have the highest verbal score, what inferences can be drawn?

Catherine Johnson said...

Well....so far what I understand of the literature (not that I've read huge amounts of the literature)...it's the verbal score that "matters."

The verbal score (I'm thinking of the SAT, and assume but don't know that GRE & SAT are equivalent on this) correlates with IQ.

In fact, the verbal score basically is an IQ score.

The math score is really a "content" score -- it's an achievement score.

I should add that I don't actually know whether the math score does or does not correlate with IQ. As I think about it, it probably does.

But the verbal score is HUGE.

That's the big kahuna.

This is why you typically see students with higher math scores than verbal scores -- even in students who are going into the humanities.

Ed had a higher math than verbal score; that's very typical.

I had a higher verbal than math score, which is a certain sign that my school was terrible & my math education awful.

Parentalcation said...

If everyone attended good schools and raised their IQ scores... wouldn't they just renorm the scale.

As I understood it, IQ tests are renormed every few years to get 100 as equivelent to the average (or median) score. Note the flynn effect.

Now of course, school is a good thing, and a hight intelligence level is desirable, but comparatively things wont change much.

I would also like to see longitudinal studies to see how much of these IQ score improvements are retained during adulthood. I suspect there is a slight slide back towards the initial scores, but I would guess that there are still significant permanent changes.

Catherine Johnson said...

If everyone attended good schools and raised their IQ scores... wouldn't they just renorm the scale.

I think they have, haven't they??

Catherine Johnson said...

Not sure...I should check Flynn & Dickens....but my memory is that they've been consistently renorming IQ tests down.

Catherine Johnson said...

I would also like to see longitudinal studies to see how much of these IQ score improvements are retained during adulthood. I suspect there is a slight slide back towards the initial scores, but I would guess that there are still significant permanent changes

That is a very interesting question to me.

There is some data on it showing that once the "environmental supports" are gone, IQ goes back to whatever it would be without the IQ-raising environment of school.

For instance, there's a fabulous adoption study, in France I think, looking at the children of lower-IQ people placed with higher-IQ parents versus the children of higher-IQ parents placed with....I forget.

Adoptive children who are placed with higher-IQ parents have higher IQs than one would predict during their childhoods.

But when they grow up and live on their own -- and determine their own environments -- their IQs go back to what they would have been if they'd been raised by parents with lower IQs.

I'm not sure whether their IQs regressed all the way.

It does seem, intuitively, that you might have some permanent changes.

otoh, I've come to think of achievement as being like athletic fitness; you have to maintain it....

Catherine Johnson said...

My question is whether you could use the environment to make everyone smarter -- to move the curve "up."

In other words, could you add an "IQ supplement" to the environment the same way you can add vitamin & mineral supplements to cereal & bread.

Catherine Johnson said...

I think Ken said that Engelmann's kids didn't maintain their IQ gains.

But I have to say, that doesn't tell me a lot given the lousy school situation they had to contend with.

Rudbeckia Hirta said...

They removed the analytic section from the GRE several years ago. Now it's verbal, math, and writing.

I loved the analytic section.

They still have that sort of stuff on the LSAT, though.

If you can't do the logic on the old GRE analytic section, then you won't succeed as a math major in a reputable program.

Instructivist said...

"I would also like to see longitudinal studies to see how much of these IQ score improvements are retained during adulthood."

I need a lecture from a psychometrician to disabuse me.

The Q of IQ stands for quotient. A quotient is what you get when you divide the dividend by the divisor. The divisor in IQ is age.

Doesn't that mean we get less intelligent in terms of IQ as we age even if our actual intelligence remains the same?

How are adjustments are made for age?

KDeRosa said...

The verbal score basically determinrs your IQ score because the verbal test is basically a fancy vocabulary test. And, accelerating vocabulary acquisition is close to impossible, so what winds up happening is that smart kids, especially the ones growing up in language rich environments, simply learn more words (and underlying concepts) than their lower IQ peers because their rate of learning is greater.

Anonymous said...

My question is whether you could use the environment to make everyone smarter -- to move the curve "up."

For a population over time, the answer is almost certainly "yes."

Ashkenazi Jews as a group consistently score higher on IQ tests than just about any other group (average IQ in the 112-115 range). It would appear that an environment of consistent low-level persecution with the occasional pogrom favors developing higher IQ (sorta makes sense ... you can't fight back effectively man-to-man, so you have to use your brains to survive).

I don't think this is what you have in mind ...

-Mark Roulo

Catherine Johnson said...

If you can't do the logic on the old GRE analytic section, then you won't succeed as a math major in a reputable program.

Oh!

I don't know that section.

Catherine Johnson said...

Doesn't that mean we get less intelligent in terms of IQ as we age even if our actual intelligence remains the same?

I await enlightenment!

Catherine Johnson said...

And, accelerating vocabulary acquisition is close to impossible, so what winds up happening is that smart kids, especially the ones growing up in language rich environments, simply learn more words (and underlying concepts) than their lower IQ peers because their rate of learning is greater.

I've just found your posts on this -- VERY helpful (especially since I'd begun putting this idea out on the Irvington Forum).

I've become convinced it's ESSENTIAL to accelerate disadvantaged kids -- all of them -- in math entirely because it's possible to do so.

That's the one area in which you can catch up to and pass white kids.

These kids don't need to go to college and major in math to become competitive.

Just learning K-12 math (and maybe a bit beyond, but not necessarily) is going to give them a huge leg up in the job market.

(I'm pretty sure --- absolute mastery of K-12 math isn't going to hurt; that's for sure.)

Catherine Johnson said...

Some people argue that you can use study of Greek and Latin roots to accelerate vocabulary learning.

I would try that, too.

Catherine Johnson said...

It would appear that an environment of consistent low-level persecution with the occasional pogrom favors developing higher IQ (sorta makes sense ... you can't fight back effectively man-to-man, so you have to use your brains to survive).

I've always heard this a different way....the idea being that Jews weren't allowed to own property (right?).

The only work open to them was brain work....

Catherine Johnson said...

And yeah, I wasn't thinking about pogroms!

My question is: could you raise the entire population's collective IQ today (or within our lifetime) by creating a "smart" environment?

Catherine Johnson said...

Or smart-making, I should say.

Catherine Johnson said...

I was reading a bunch of animal research today.

They can do this fairly reliably with lab rats, using enriched environments.

The rats become faster learners with better memories.

Anonymous said...

Jews weren't allowed to own property (right?)

I think it was that Jews weren't allowed to own *land*. One occupation open to them was banking (Christians couldn't charge interest ... it is hard to make a living banking without charging interest ... so no Christian bankers).

It is difficult to be a banker without owning property.

-Mark Roulo

Tracy said...

They can do this fairly reliably with lab rats, using enriched environments.
The rats become faster learners with better memories.


I think a traditional criticism of these studies is that enriched environments for lab rats means something about as complex as their natural environments as opposed to a plastic cage.

Sadly, we already know that raising kids in something as unstimulating as a plastic cage does terrible things to their measured IQ. So the lab rats experiments don't give us any reason to believe that creating a superrich environment will increase kids' IQs compared to them being raised in a normal enviroment.

Tracy said...

Just learning K-12 math (and maybe a bit beyond, but not necessarily) is going to give them a huge leg up in the job market.

And even if a part of education doesn't help in the job market it can still improve your life. Such as being able to scale up or scale down recipes. Or apply some more skepticism to politican's promises.

Catherine Johnson said...

sorry - yes, I meant land!

Catherine Johnson said...

Christians couldn't charge interest ... it is hard to make a living banking without charging interest ... so no Christian bankers

Really!!?

I had no idea!

Christians couldn't charge interest?

I am soooo not educated.

Catherine Johnson said...

Tracy --- yes, definitely.

We know you can terribly damage IQ and development through severe deprivation.

But does that mean you can equally raise IQ through a normal environment?

otoh, I'd say it's pretty well-established that a "good" environment raises IQ (within the "reaction range"...)