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Topic: More on IQ
Replies: 36   Last Post: Dec 3, 2009 12:49 AM

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Posts: 1,507
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: More on IQ
Posted: Nov 24, 2009 4:24 PM
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First let me say, yes, I'm emotional about this topic, and I make no apologies for that. I wish more teachers would get emotional in defense of their students. Robert, as a newer poster here you may not know - I am an LD specialist, teaching primarily reading, sometimes arithmetic, to students with dyslexia and other LDs. I am quite successful at this, turning so-called "low aptitude" students into "high aptitude" students.

> Pam, I don't think anyone here ever said that high IQ
> = academic success. Regardless of what you want to
> fashion the "purpose of IQ testing into" the fact
> remains that there is a proven high correlation
> between IQ and "getting it" when it comes to
> academics. These arguments about Flynn and Purpose
> are like parlor tricks to confuse people.

No, there is a high correlation between IQ and "getting it" when "getting it" means continuing with the status quo. In other words, an educational program that isn't working very well for that particular student.

The Flynn effect has little relevance to the appropriate use of IQ scores. More important is the Matthew Effect, a term coined by Keith Stanovich, a psychologist studying reading disorders, to describe the decrease we see in IQ scores as a child ages, when he/she is not taught to read. With instruction appropriate to the child's needs, the Matthew Effect disappears.

> As I asked the other poster, are your proposing that
> intelligence is not real?

It is the popular understanding of what intelligence is that I find so problematic.

> Or that IQ tests are not
> the best way to measure intelligence?

Absolutely not, it is not what they are designed to do. They are designed to provide some (imperfect) measure of success, thus far, in school. At the outer reaches, there is certainly a difference in the ability to learn. Someone with a measured IQ of 40 is going to have significant challenges compared to someone with an IQ of 140. In between, though, is a whole lot of gray area.

> Personally, I think intelligence is best measured by
> how well the student gets the material.

THIS is what grates on me so much! What a horrible, defeatist, inaccurate measure. Thinking back, I realize my views were formed at a very young age. When I was in elementary school, I was such an exceptional student my teachers didn't quite know what to do with me. I give them credit, because I was quiet and calm, and would have sat quietly after I finished my work, but they were conscious of keeping me busy and challenged. So not only did they allow me to work at my own pace - especially in math I was self-taught - but because I still finished my work so quickly, they asked me to help the lowest performing kids. I loved it, it was the one thing that really challenged me in school. Having to slow and deconstruct my own thought processes so I knew how to explain it to the other students was the first big challenge, then figuring out where their glitch was, what prevented them from getting what came so easily to me, was the next and most fascinating challenge. Not once, even at such a young age, not once did I think the other students could not be as good at math as I was, if only I could find that key to unlock whatever was holding them back.

And I still believe it, and live it, and prove it day by day. If ever someone finds that I have prejudged a student's future potential to "get" a subject based on how well they are "getting" it now, then throw me in shackles. I'd deserve nothing better. We all have our limiting characteristics, but Robert's idea of innate intelligence is the least of those.

> But I am
> not driven in any way to even suggest that IQ tests
> have any use in schools.

Of course they have a use in school, when used as designed. Let me give you an example. I think of IQ tests as a screening, the first indication of what else we need to look at. I rarely look at full scale IQ - that is essentially meaningless when there are significant gaps between subtest scores and between indexed scores, as is almost always the case with kids who have LDs. If I see that a student has a VCI (Verbal Comprehension Index on the WISC-IV) score of 120 and a PRI (Perceptual Reasoning Index) score of 90, I know there is a problem, and I have some ideas of what the problem may be. We see that sort of gap when students have visual-spatial processing weaknesses, a possible indication of a Nonverbal Learning Disorder, or when students are particularly slow processors, needing to mull things over slowly but often quite deeply. (Subtests included in VCI are not timed, subtests included in PRI are timed.) The discrepancy may also indicate some self-confidence issues and adaptability to novel situations. Discrepancies in indexed and subtest scores may even be an indication of emotional disorders, such as bipolar and borderline personality disorder, a connection researchers are looking into. So it is not the overall IQ, but the discrepancies in scores that interest me. People with dyslexia often have the opposite pattern of high PRI scores, sometimes in the superior range, with significantly lower VCI. Those discrepancies then need to be explored with further testing.

IQ scores are most helpful to me in understanding a diagnosis, and after that I mostly forget about them. But they can inform my teaching by identifying strengths and weaknesses, my mantra being "use the strengths, remediate the weaknesses."

> They measure a very general
> aspect of intelligence. I am more interested in
> REALIZED INTELLIGENCE, not probable. My agenda is
> that if a kid shows high aptitude in actual subjects,
> be it math or literature or what ever, that they be
> afforded the opportunity to be taught to the fullest.

I agree with you, except I would exchange "aptitude" for "strong interest and attitude", a far more predictive measure of success. While recognizing that interest generally follows aptitude (which is subject to change) and vice versa.

I'll admit I sometimes have a hard time empathisizing with those of you fighting to get "gifted" kids academic needs recognized, because I grew up and currently reside in a district that uses tracking, grade skipping, and cross grading in ways that work fairly well. And by that I mean there is movement between levels and freedom of choice and separation of subjects. Teachers recommend tracks and grade levels, but ultimately it is the choice of students and their parents. Each subject is considered individually, such that most high school students graduate with some classes at the standard level, some accelerated, some honors, and some students may also skip ahead a grade in a particular subject but not the others.

> I know damn well that we can detect authentic
> mathematical aptitude

No, what you are detecting is a lifetime of success or failure, with all the emotional baggage that entails. If you want to tell me you can detect authentic mathematical aptitude in an elementary student, when they have not yet even been exposed to math beyond arithmetic, then that is ridiculous. Even Einstein's teachers thought he wouldn't amount to anything when he was in elementary school, because, by his own admission, he wasn't particularly good at arithmetic.


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