August 22, 2006

Good Debate at Hun-Blog

Hun-Blog has a good post on SES, IQ and student achievement and how they affect education policy. I agree with many of Brad's points, but do disagree on others in the comments. Check it out, especially since there is precious little going on in the eduspehere this week.

Update: Well, that was a disappointment. Here's Brad's premise for his entire argument:
I've come to agree with the assumption that there are no biological differences between races of Homo sapiens. That we measure a difference in IQ is thus an unexpected result.
As it turns out, this once fashionable consensus is being taken over by the data. And even though Brad's not giving up the ghost quite yet, the experts he's relying upon already have. (See also response #7 of this recent interview)

So, in fact, there are biological differences, such as different skin colors, tolerance to types of food, resistance to pathogens, facial characteristics, body types, and the like, between human populations. Such differences make differences in IQ in these populations not unexpected.

Without this premise, Brad has no argument. (Brad, that's a little trick I learned in law school, not in science school.)

The take away is that biologically based cognitive differences exist between people that may not be rectifiable through environmental interventions (such as SES doctoring). Someday we may know more about improving cognitive ability through environmental interventions, but today is not that day. Today, we need to accept the reality that a sizable portion of our child population has a diminished cognitive capacity. They need to be educated today using proven techniques, not speculative Rothstienian twaddle based on outdated politically correct consensus "science."

Update 2: Brad has now shut down any further commenting on this issue. In any event he has posted some links to the somewhat recent Turkheimer study, the misinterpretation of which is explained here, here, and here. And, also, here. Here too. I suppose that's why the comments were shut down. Damn those pesky facts.


Anonymous said...

The link doesn't work for me. Not sure why.


KDeRosa said...

link fixed

Anonymous said...

Good links. I'm disinclined to give IQ much weight, but in my experience teaching at a business school, I just don't see a lot of evidence that students of different groups are smarter than others. What I do see, however, is that students of some groups are better prepared for the college classroom than others.

KDeRosa said...

Hi rightwingprof.

Read your blog often.

At your level, the herd has been significantly culled, so to speak. No matter what group the students come from the bottom half of the curve is long gone. What remains is only a small portion of the remaining dustribution with roughly similar IQs.

I'd say that part of that better peparation is at least partly attributable to the higher IQs.

Anonymous said...

not all the evidence points to clear racial IQ differences. For example, this recent paper by economists Roland Fryer and Steven Levitt would suggest otherwise.

KDeRosa said...

I'm not so concerned about racial IQ differences. They are what they are. I am more concerned with educating kids with diminsihed IQs no matter what "race" they happen to come from.

The Levitt paper is not without its significant flaws. The biggest being that you can't reliably measure IQ in kids that young.

Anonymous said...

"At your level, the herd has been significantly culled, so to speak. No matter what group the students come from the bottom half of the curve is long gone. What remains is only a small portion of the remaining dustribution with roughly similar IQs."

A very good point.

Anonymous said...

Like I said, a very good point, but here's where I was headed. Even if the lower tail of the distribution has been eliminated, don't assume that all or most undergrads are stellar. We get some fairly dim bulbs, if you catch my drift, more than just a few. And I have had far too many of those not so bright students who worked like dogs, came to office hours every week, did everything they could, and earned As, as well as far too many obviously very bright students who couldn't be bothered to do the work and got Cs or worse.

What I mean is (and I know, this is a very quaint, old-fashioned idea) that I think success has less to do with intelligence than it does values (as in the motivation to succeed and the willingness to take responsibility for your success).

I questioned Brad's assumption that any educational study should take into account socioeconomic status for that very reason. We were raised on a farm, and were hardly "privileged." We were straight A students because we were raised with the values to succeed.

Anyway, that was my point.

KDeRosa said...

No doubt about it, having the cognitive ability is not the same thing as using it.

One possible explanation for the effect you see may be that many kids get coddled in K12 and can get through doing little work, especially the smart ones. The work load of college can come as a shock to the system.

I also agree that many undergrads have no business being in college, especially with the preparation some of them have had.

KDeRosa said...

I almost forgot.

Don't underestimate the predictive power of IQ. See here.

Actually the entire site is a good read for stat junkies.