November 28, 2010

Standardized testing has embarrassed teachers into facing the fact that they've been grading kids for compliance and pleasing.

That's what I extract from this pretty garbled NYT op-ed. And by garbled I mean stuff like this:
“Over time, we began to realize that many teachers had been grading kids for compliance — not for mastering the course material,” [middle school principal Katie] Berglund said. “A portion of our A and B students were not the ones who were gaining the most knowledge but the ones who had learned to do school the best.”....

As test scores fast become the single and most powerful measurement by which educational outcomes are being judged, more schools might find themselves engaged in what has become a pivotal debate: Should students be rewarded for being friendly, prepared, compliant, a good school citizen, well organized and hard-working? Or should good grades represent exclusively a student’s mastery of the material?
How did the word "exclusively" get into that last question? It seems obvious to me that schools should give achievement in learning the primary place it deserves and should also demand appropriate behavior. Students need to be decently well-behaved, diligent, and organized, but it's wrong to treat teacher's-pet-type students as if they are the best. That drives many smart kids into rebellion. And, frankly, it's likely to create unnecessary problems for lots of boys. And it doesn't do girls any favors either, since real careers aren't about handing in all the homework and pleasing the authority figure.

ADDED: I'm told that the Week In Review pieces like this are properly referred to as news "analysis," and not "op-eds."

243 comments:

1 – 200 of 243   Newer›   Newest»
PatCA said...

"And, frankly, it's likely to create unnecessary problems for lots of boys."

True at the graduate level as well, and big trouble for the (dwindling number of) boys.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

The entire premise that teachers can be embarrassed is laughable.

Seven Machos said...

Brilliant post. This phenomenon is why we see so many kids who did so well in high school wash out (quickly) at the college level. Conversely, it's why there are so many stories about people who did poorly in high school excel as adults.

Busy work is dumb work. Grades should be exclusively reserved for mastery of academic material. If you want to give a grade for organization, niceness, and ass-kissing, give it separately.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Should students be rewarded for being friendly, prepared, compliant, a good school citizen, well organized and hard-working? Or should good grades represent exclusively a student’s mastery of the material?

Call me naive, but... Students who are prepared, compliant, good school citizens, well organized and hard-working are far more likely to have mastery of the material. ("Friendly" isn't so relevant.)

Some students have natural talent, and will pick up the material that way. But for the rest, preparation and focus and discipline are key study skills.

Seven Machos said...

Students who are prepared, compliant, good school citizens, well organized and hard-working are far more likely to have mastery of the material.

I disagree. Those qualities don't even correlate with academic prowess. I do agree that we want to promote those qualities, particularly diligence, but our schools do it in the stupidest ways imaginable -- ways that over-reward herd behavior.

Moose said...

Being prepared, etc. rewards those who learn in a "typical" manner. My son - gifted visually and creative finds it hard to prepare and needs help following thru on the daily load of homework and misc. organizational crap so loved by teachers these days. Sad story is that some people don't fit the industrial design of typical schools, and just fall thru the cracks...

Trooper York said...

The problem with education is obvious. It's the teachers.

They need to be replaced.

Seven Machos said...

One thing that I still think about that happened in my junior high and high school was the strange custom of folders. The idea was, you kept your homework in a folder and turned it in all organized at the end of the quarter for a fairly massive amount of credit toward your grade.

I remember seeing the girls on either side of me with these neat, organized folders all ready to turn in. Mine was always a holy mess.

I always found it unjust. I did the homework. Why should anyone get points (lots of them) for keeping it in a nice folder for nine weeks? And I wonder what those girls on either side of me are up to now.

Trooper York said...

Well they are either bloggers or administering medication to large catatonic Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest.

ken in sc said...

In a hierarchical bureaucratic organization, pleasing the boss is the most important skill to have. If you are lucky, pleasing the boss means meeting important goals and accomplishing the mission successfully If you are not lucky, if you have a psychopathic boss, meeting goals and accomplishing the mission may get you punished. I was lucky for most of my career, but I was unlucky enough to know the difference.

PETER V. BELLA said...

It is NYT. It is supposed to be garbled.

MadisonMan said...

The big uproar at Madison West is the proposed change in curriculum, driven in part by an achievement gap. I thought it interesting that the assessment of how well people are doing is initially done by the ACT folks, and then how well kids do on ACTs is used to judge the success of the new program. That sounds like a gravy train for the ACT people to me: you'll have a whole school system teaching to the ACT, and beholden to it.

Seven Machos said...

you'll have a whole school system teaching to the ACT, and beholden to it

I imagine that federal law mandates that tests created by certain qualifying testing companies be used for these tests. However, ACT is not the only one. There are many of them. Moreover, the reason for the mandate (that I am imagining) is that teachers have demonstrated that they cannot be counted on to ensure that students meet academic standards.

The fact that a corporation with many faults (such as ACT) is getting rich off the deal is a byproduct of the multitude of failures of teachers.

Nora said...

The situation described at the beginning of the articles is result of the education in which pupils are under-occupied and under-challenged. In such a situation the dilligent puple can turn in good results in class and in homework, but fail in tests that actually meassure depth of their knowledge and ability to apply it, rather than their efforts in acquiring it, while brighter student can get good results in tests without applying themselves in class or at home. If the demands of the educations were more challenging, the former group would not be able to perform on the same level in class, and the latter would not be able to perform as good in exams without applying themselves in class and at homework.

Lisa said...

If one exclusively gives grades based upon mastery, then homework never gets counted in that grade and kids (at least most of them) no longer have a motivation to complete those assignments... then mastery declines.

Personally, I prefer to base the majority of the grade on master (~70% for tests and quizzes) with some for homework.

I also find that organization, good behavior, good listening and compliance go a long way towards helping a student master content.

Conserve Liberty said...

Part of the problem is we have only one, standard school and we compel all our children to attend it. We should do as the Europeans and develop multiple schooling tracks pointing to multiple outcomes.

That would, of course, categorize children at about the eighth grade, and would categorize the teachers as well.

Can't have that, now, can we?

Trooper York said...

All of these unionized teachers should be replaced by robots who administer corporal punishment. Like we used to have in the old days.

Trooper York said...

They called them nuns.

Trooper York said...

Trust me. If you have an angry fustrated spinster smacking you in the head with a metal ruler....well you are gonna learn something.

Trooper York said...

Just not how to spell.

ken in sc said...

BTW, my career had two segments, one in the military and one in public education. Education was the most stressful. In education, you are more likely to get a psychopathic boss. Also, teachers did not dream up all those stupid make-work things like folders and portfolios--that was done by Education Professors--and crammed down our throats.

Seven Machos said...

Ken -- Come on, man. I don't follow today what my professors said in school. That's because I don't have to (nor do you) and because much of what they said was bullshit.

JAL said...

Wouldn't kids who have "mastered the material" tend to be -- while not compliant necessarily (<--- why does that make my skin crawl?) -- more "with the program" so to speak?

But that assumes the teachers are on board with "the program." Youknow, like to produce students who know what it is they are supposed to know and use it, not social engineer faux activists and parent tattlers and nannies.

Trooper York said...

I don't know but I think corporal punishment is going to make a big comeback. In the future!

former law student said...

This would be great for my nephew, who never turned in homework until he got to college. His teachers consistently took points off for missing homework. This was true in my day as well. In fact, I couldn't even turn any in late.

But turning in homework is a bit like your boss asking you, "How's it going?" i.e. are you making any progress on your assigned tasks. You tell the boss where you're at, and the student's homework shows s/he's on track.

It's true that material can be learned in other ways than by performing the assigned exercises, but each one is a milestone on the road to the final.

While some classes are simple, after a point, you can no longer learn everything you need to know by pulling an all-nighter.

real careers aren't about handing in all the homework and pleasing the authority figure.

That's how they begin, however. You have to color within the lines on your first job or two. If you intend to blow off an assignment, you best obtain your boss's buy-in well in advance.

JAL said...

The European model traps kids in vocations at where they are at an early point in their lives.

Our model has evolved to where people change careers and vocations like gym clothes.

I like the gym clothes model a bit better myself.

BAS said...

There are many careers that are built on being friendly and compliant to the boss or the customer. There are some careers that are built on merit, knowledge and skill. But a lot of careers are built on "good enough".

The reason grades don't count is because it's not so hard to get an A or B anymore if you're friendly and compliant.

Seven Machos said...

My wife and I were just discussing how it's pretty easy to make good grades as, say, an English major but really quite difficult to make good grades as a civil engineering major.

We concluded that the reason is because nobody is going to get hurt if a bad writer slips through the cracks. However, lots of people could die if a bridge falls down.

jayne_cobb said...

"One thing that I still think about that happened in my junior high and high school was the strange custom of folders. The idea was, you kept your homework in a folder and turned it in all organized at the end of the quarter for a fairly massive amount of credit toward your grade."

We had the exact same thing for Algebra 2, although it was based less upon appearance and more on simply having the assignment. The period before you would always see kids comparing folders and copying any assignments they missed.

They didn't learn a damn thing from the assignment except to always have at least 1 organized friend.

lucid said...

I read this op-ed today, and I thought it was dumb. Appropriate behavior is not the opposite of academic achievement--it is strongly correlated with it in terms of major personality characteristics like conscientiousness.

This principal sounds like an idiot, and her views seem like a lot of educational theorizing--a projective screen on which to dump one's own grievances and insecurities and angers.

Most teachers teach more than well enough for a student to learn. The rest is making excuses for students' under-performance.

IMHO, the students would do a lot better if more was expected of them and there were fewer people making excuses for them.

When I was in college, I might think a particular professor was boring, but I still thought it was my job to learn the material.

shoutingthomas said...

You're a little late to the game on this one, Ann.

Steve Sailer's been covering it for a long time.

The issues are IQ, particularly as it relates to IQ differences between races and nationalities.

The "teachers" are trying to find a way to explain away the persistent gap between IQ and SAT testing between blacks and everybody else.

Everything is at fault except for the performance of blacks.

Seven Machos said...

Lucid -- We are talking about basic skills here that anyone who is not terminally, clinically stupid can learn. If any group of students has not mastered algebra after a year, or grammar, or reading, it's the teacher's fault. It's not the students' fault and not their parents' fault.

somefeller said...

That article and this comment thread are pretty eye-opening to me. At the junior high and high school I went to, we were graded exclusively on how well we did on tests, quizzes and graded homework (the latter graded immediately, not weeks later). Good behavior was expected, but the way it was handled was by punishing bad behavior, not by giving a good grade for good behavior. A teacher might give some extra points if they saw a student was putting in the extra work to improve in a subject, but the idea of getting graded well just because you are nice or hand in a neat quarterly folder showing you did your homework (regardless of how well you did it) is a new one to me.

Seven Machos said...

The issues are IQ, particularly as it relates to IQ differences between races and nationalities.

Oh God. Here we go. I knew this would come up from some harebrained commenter.

There is no such thing as IQ. There is no way to numerically arrange intelligence. It is a 20th Century construct that is utterly false.

Tying it to race is disgusting. Tying it to nationality is just laughable. As if somebody who is born and raised in Tijuana is genetically inferior to someone born and raised 10 miles north.

You are a disgusting racist, Thomas.

Pogo said...

In the US, pedagogy is relentlessly faddish, unapologetically socialist, and a testing lab for misandry.

Its sole utility is generating obsequious obsessive-compulsives to run government agencies, and be run by them. A circle jerk of eunuchoid bureaucrats.

rhhardin said...

What you want to nourish is the ability to believe things quickly.

Then you're prepared to read the NYT.

shoutingthomas said...

Oh God. Here we go. I knew this would come up from some harebrained commenter.

There is no such thing as IQ. There is no way to numerically arrange intelligence. It is a 20th Century construct that is utterly false.

Bullshit.

The very liberals who claims "There is no such thing as IQ" are constantly bragging about their superior intelligence, particularly in relationship to the general populace.

This is the great liberal dilemma. IQ doesn't exist. Yet, the IQ of liberals is the proof of the superiority and their right to rule.

madAsHell said...

There is no such thing as teaching. You present to talented students, and they grasp the concept.

The un-taltented stare, and wish they could understand.

edutcher said...

A lot of this is the result of 40 years of diversity, multi-culti, and self-esteem over academics and the teaching of critical and analytical thinking.

Thank you, William Ayers and the Columbia University School of Education.

Trooper York said...

The problem with education is obvious. It's the teachers.

They need to be replaced.


The problem with teachers started around 1970 when the only educational draft deferment for grad students was if you were going for a teaching credential. A lot of people who didn't want to be teachers jumped in and were more interested in what they could get out of teaching than what they could put in.

Enter the teacher's unions who quickly organized these slugs. First, get rid of the unions, then vet the teachers.

Trooper York said...


All of these unionized teachers should be replaced by robots who administer corporal punishment. Like we used to have in the old days.

They called them nuns.


Cheap shot, Troop. I spent some time in front of nuns. They weren't all The Flying You-know-what, but they gave more of a damn than teachers today.

shoutingthomas said...

And, to put it bluntly, you can arrange groups in descending IQ order thusly:

1. Ashkenazy Jews
2. East Asians
3. Caucasians
4. Hispanics
5. Blacks

IQ tests and performance on SAT tests produce this result no matter how often the "teachers" try to jigger the results.

The hierarchy of the school systems is desperately trying to find a way to assign these results to anything except the obvious.

Mr Evilwrench said...

Oh man, academic achievement. I was never the A student, but excelled in standardized tests. I took a very heavy course load in High School, graduating with, I think 53 of the 34 credits necessary, but with a weak "B" average. One six weeks, I had a "D" in calculus, mind you yet had qualified by a test to represent the school in a math contest. I rarely did my homework; mostly, at the time and in that system, it didn't matter so much.

I went into engineering at university; it's just what I am, not so much what I wanted to do. I still have that characteristic.

My son, now in ninth grade, is academically challenged, particularly by his reluctance, shall we say, to do his homework. He's not stupid, but he's not a chip off the old block. However, I can live with that. We're all different.

I think we need to accept that some of us are not alpha plusses; that some of us are more suited to more mundane careers. We need to stop disrespecting the crafts, the practical skills, the people who make their living from doing things that frankly need to be done. The welders, the electricians, whatnot. Illegal aliens can't do it all. I've always respected skill, and developed as many skills of my own as I could.

I think we should be able to teach our children that being a plumber is not bad. We can't, after all, all be doctors and lawyers.

Seven Machos said...

Thomas -- That post is facetious, even by your standards. The fact that leftists think they are smarter than everybody else doesn't have anything to do with the fact that IQ is a false 20th Century construct.

The real dilemma, actually, is for people like you: you believe in IQ yet you don't want people who think they are really smart to rule over you.

JAL said...

There is no such thing as IQ. There is no way to numerically arrange intelligence. It is a 20th Century construct that is utterly false.

So how come the libs are always swooning over how intelligent Barack Obama is? What the hey are they talking about? In. Simple.Engrish. for the rest of us.

Seven Machos said...

IQ tests and performance on SAT tests

For years, I routinely raised people's SAT scores by 200 points. My personal record was over 400 points.

Did I make them smarter? Were they closet Jews?

Your posts are racist and ridiculous. You are an embarrassment to humanity.

John said...

Trooper,

The problem is not the teachers. Well, it is in a sense but replacing them will make no difference at all. they will just be replaced with more of the same.

The real problem is the schools of education. They need to be burned to the ground, never to be mentioned again.

I have a Masters in Education from a well respected school. I also have 28 years teaching in the business school of the same university.

There is less content in the entire masters program than in a single class session of any of the business courses.

In my program of study I took not a single test, quiz, exam. Not in-class. Not take home.

In the business school I am required to give at least one exam and encouraged to give two. I can give additional tests at my discretion.

Until we get history teachers that studied history, math teachers that studied math, science teachers that studied science and so on, replacing the teachers will do no good at all.

You simply replace one inappropriately trained set of people with another inappropriately trained set.

John Henry

JAL said...

There is no such thing as IQ. There is no way to numerically arrange intelligence. It is a 20th Century construct that is utterly false.

Then why do all the liberal swoon over how smart Barack Obama is? And remind us all the time, too. (Hi Valerie dear. Miss the Chicago winters?)

What the hey is that about?

Explain it to us In.Simple.Engrish.

Seven Machos said...

Thomas -- I'll say something again that apparently enraged you the first time.

Here is my hope for you: I hope that tonight you are taken away on a boat across an ocean to a foreign place. I hope you are forced to do menial tasks there all your life. I hope you are given no education there. I hope that your children are treated like dog shit even after emancipation.

Then, I hope that the children on your children's children are belittled as stupid by morons spouting on blogs.

Maguro said...

For years, I routinely raised people's SAT scores by 200 points. My personal record was over 400 points.

So you were a great SAT coach. Congratulations.

But it really doesn't speak to the isasue of whether some groups of people are smarter than others. Lots of people run faster after intensive coaching, but no one says that the 100 meter dash is a meaningless social construct.

Revenant said...

For years, I routinely raised people's SAT scores by 200 points.

What does "routinely" mean? If you mean that was the typical increase then your claim is almost certainly false; no independent study has ever confirmed increases like those. They exist only in promotional and marketing material for SAT test training companies.

Seven Machos said...

But it really doesn't speak to the isasue of whether some groups of people are smarter than others.

Sure it does. The whole premise of the test is that it is not coachable. Perhaps you do not remember. This used to be conventional wisdom. If blacks, as a group, do worse on some standardized test than whites, there are dozens of reasons why this is so and not one of them is that whites are smarter than blacks. Moreover, why do you get to define groups of people, and why do you foolishly and barbarically use skin color as a definition?

There is one solid correlation among groups concerning SATs and IQ: wealth. Rich people do better than poor people, hands down.

Lots of people run faster after intensive coaching, but no one says that the 100 meter dash is a meaningless social construct.

Again, ridiculous. Have you taken an SAT, or an IQ test? How do you do an average problem or a spatial relations problem if you have never done one or had a dog shit teacher explain how to do it? Your assumption is frivolous: that everyone knows how to do all the tasks required to take an SAT in the same way that everyone can run.

Seven Machos said...

Rev -- "Routinely" means all the time, like one student per class I taught out of about 10 students.

You needed two requirements to do well:

(1) you needed a score in the 500s or so (lower than that was usually beyond my help and higher was a problem because there is a coaching ceiling around 700);

(2) you needed to do exactly what I said to do and do the homework.

There is also a magical quality to standardized testing coaching. A light needs to go off in the student, and I have no idea how that happens.

John said...

William Ayers, Obama's BFF and unrepentent former (we hope) terrorist is a professor of education.

He teaches teachers and develops the curricula by which they are to be taught.

Anyone think that simply firing teachers and hiring new ones will make a difference if Ayers and his ilk get their hands on the replacements?

I don't.

Burn down all the ed schools.

John Henry

Pogo said...

There is nothing wrong with modern education except that they are teaching all the wrong things.

Maguro said...

There is one solid correlation among groups concerning SATs and IQ: wealth. Rich people do better than poor people, hands down..

Actually, shoutingthomas has it right. The performance of the various ethnic groups the government tracks has been very consistent across the many different types of standardized tests - IQ tests, scholastic achievement tests, SATs, LSAT, GRE, etc.

Moreover, why do you get to define groups of people, and why do you foolishly and barbarically use skin color as a definition?

I'm not the one who foolishly and barbarically defines groups of people using skin color as a definition. That would be the US government. They sub-divide everyone into color-based sub-groups and report the results. Blame them.

chr1 said...

There's always a shortage of people who actually know their subject material well. Few people understand something well enough to explain it simply.

There's always of shortage of people who know it well and can teach it well, and (like some research academics) give a shit enough/have enough experience and dedication to teach others.

Learning, actual learning, happens all the time, on jobs, during talks, during devoted application of one's self to a subject, hobbies etc. A person's mind must be open enough to do it, and they have to try. High schools down deal with more and more behavioral/developmental issues.

Book larnin' in school can work and presently we make a contract with each other to put kids with uneducated parents, poor kids, hungry kids...with smart kids, rich kids, kids learning at home all the time.

We segregate financially, which is natural, in neighborhoods, through private schools etc.

I think Ann's point might be that all sorts of parties have their own ideological, political, social agendas when addressing the issue.

Seven Machos said...

Actually, shoutingthomas has it right. The performance of the various ethnic groups the government tracks has been very consistent across the many different types of standardized tests - IQ tests, scholastic achievement tests, SATs, LSAT, GRE, etc.

IQ tests and standardized tests are bullshit, dude. They are false measurements of nothing that is measurable.

It doesn't matter that "the government" is tracking them. Is "the government" also tracking horoscopes of different races? How about phrenology? Does "the government" track that?

Revenant said...

Rev -- "Routinely" means all the time, like one student per class I taught out of about 10 students.

10% of the time = "all the time"?

That being said, raising terrible scores to be less-terrible makes sense. If a student is hopelessly behind in their math and English language skills, cramming can help. What it can't do is take an average kid and make them look attractive to a good college, or take an above-average kid and get them into MIT.

AJ Lynch said...

I am tired of people blaming teachers. I am tired of hearing about our bad schools. Most kids will learn but some won't.

I blame bad parents first then the lazy, unmotivated students next. Garbage in garbage out - even a Superman in every school room could not overcome that.

bagoh20 said...

The problem is that education professionals keep fiddling with the system, mostly in an attempt to repair the damage from the previous fiddling.

When I was in school, we got report cards that graded both: The straight material subjects, but also things like attendance, cooperation, completion of assignments, class participation, etc. What's so hard here? It was clear from such a report card what your kid was up to. I often got good grades on the material, but was docked for not completing homework, or participation, etc. My parents knew who I was, and why that was the case, and they were all right with it. Just teach the stuff and report what the kids do with it. Parents can decide if that's good enough or if they want their kid to improve. It's virtually always up to the kid to make a difference in their own education. Fail to do so and fine. Someone has to get my Big Mac and fries.

Revenant said...

Rich people do better than poor people, hands down.

Rich people are, on average, significantly smarter than poor people. Since intelligence is mostly hereditary, this means rich people generally have smart kids and poor people generally don't.

Revenant said...

I blame bad parents first then the lazy, unmotivated students next.

If the parents and children are the problem, why do the teachers and the education establishment routinely lie to us and tell us they need more money?

The education establishment, from administrators to teachers, is either (a) incompetent, (b) complicit in defrauding the taxpayers of billions of dollars, or (c) both. There is no scenario in which they merit the money we're giving them.

Seven Machos said...

Rich people are, on average, significantly smarter than poor people.

This is simply not true. It's cute that you think the world is some giant meritocracy, though. Scary, but cute.

Since intelligence is mostly hereditary

This is simply not true. Intelligence is a function of many, many things. The complexity is more than even a brilliant, rich person could begin to fathom.

this means rich people generally have smart kids and poor people generally don't

This conclusion is so naive and fails to account for so much else in the world that it can only be called, perhaps ironically here, woefully and outrageously stupid.

bagoh20 said...

What if rich people scored lower than the poor? Would we tax them into poverty for their own good? What would we value wealth or intelligence if intelligence made you poor?

Seven Machos said...

If a student is hopelessly behind in their math and English language skills, cramming can help. What it can't do is take an average kid and make them look attractive to a good college, or take an above-average kid and get them into MIT.

This is hilariously wrong. Standardized test scores and standardized test scores alone are a huge portion of the formula for getting into colleges, particularly larger ones.

Again you have said something stupid in a post alleging that people who are not you are stupid.

Just too funny.

Maguro said...

IQ tests and standardized tests are bullshit, dude. They are false measurements of nothing that is measurable.

Please. The admissions offices at places like Harvard and Yale live by SAT scores - within racial groups. Organizations like the NFL use IQ tests to evaluate personnel. But they're all dumb, eh? Only Seven Machos understands that all 7 billion humans are perfectly equal in intelligence. Unlike any other human characteristic, intelligence is evenly distributed throughout the entire population.

Seven Machos said...

The admissions offices at places like Harvard and Yale live by SAT scores

So what? Because Harvard and Yale do something, that makes it okay?

within racial groups

Again, so what? Race is almost as dumb as IQ. At least race is quantifiable, though.

Organizations like the NFL use IQ tests to evaluate personnel.

Again, so what? The NFL is also rife with steroid and cocaine use. Are steroids and cocaine good things?

all 7 billion humans are perfectly equal in intelligence

I never said this. You are -- yes -- stupid to infer that I said it. Of course some people are smarter than other people. IQ does not measure this phenomenon and, in fact, given the factors and malleability involved, intelligence is not measurable. Intelligence is no more measurable than beauty of musical ability. We call all see it, and sense it, but we can't measure it. Truly, it is truly the height of folly to believe that you can attach a number to intelligence through a battery of primitive tests.

Fred4Pres said...

My sister teaches young kids and one of her students had to organize a series of pictures. There was a string with two beads on it, a string with four beads, and a completed strand.

The "correct answer" is that order. The student had them a completed strand, the string with four beads and the string with two beads. When questioned, the boy explained that the neckless is complete in the first frame, then the strand was broken, and then the person started the strand over again. She admitted his logic was sound and just as correct as the supposedly correct answer.

Perhaps we should also realize that standardized tests can have bias too.

Maguro said...

Seven, you're crazy if you believe a kid with 900 on his SATs can be as successful at Harvard as a kid with 1550 on his SATs.

The admissions office understands this, even if you do not.

former law student said...

Attention ED fans: A standardized test does not have to mean a multiple guess test. Take a gander at one of the Minnesota standardized test specs mentioned in the op-ed -- 9th Grade writing:

http://www.macalester.edu/geography
/mage/teachers/institutes/09mohe
/content/16ML9thGradeWritingTest.pdf

former law student said...

Seven, you're crazy if you believe a kid with 900 on his SATs can be as successful at Harvard as a kid with 1550 on his SATs.

The SAT rewards a certain type of superficial thinker. People who are careful and methodical when it comes to working math problems, or people who see subtleties in prosaic texts, or nuances in definitions, will founder.

Seven Machos said...

you're crazy if you believe a kid with 900 on his SATs can be as successful at Harvard as a kid with 1550 on his SATs

Dude -- You are reduced at this point to making up things and attributing them to me. I never said that. Moreover, did you really need the SAT to know that the kid with the 1550 would do better at Harvard than the kid with the 900? You did not. if you did, then of the three people involved, you are the moron.

The problem is that the kid with the 620 math 620 verbal is no better than the kid with the 550 math 550 verbal. However, the kid with the higher score on the useless test will get into a better school or get a better scholarship.

There is no such thing as IQ. The SAT is a terrible, terrible test that doesn't measure anything. Moreover, the SAT does not even claim to measure IQ. Thus, the fact that you are equating SAT scores and IQ scores is something like quadruply fallacious and foolish.

Penny said...

"Education professional" has become an oxymoron, not unlike "government worker" and "civil servant".

Seven Machos said...

Thank you, FLS. Moreover, rich parents are able to get doctors to sign documents that get their kids more time on standardized tests. This is a very common occurrence.

georgethomas said...

As a teacher, I know the vital importance of having the parents strongly back the school's education efforts. Without the help of and pressure from the parents, I am afraid that little learning will get done at home. This is probably why immigrants' children do so well (Jews, Koreans,---_.

georgethomas said...

It is also interesting that in NY State, 2 hours of home schooling is considered the legal equivalent of 6 hours in school. This tells you (a) how much time is wasted in school, and (b) how much more effective one-on-one (Socrates, Aristotle, English tutors at Oxford) teaching is than one-on twenty or thirty, as we commonly have in school. Of course, now that Bloombeg has appointed someone with no educational experience and who sent her kids to private schools to run the NYC school system, I expect to see further fall-offs.

Revenant said...

This is simply not true.

It is true. Is the world a perfect meritocracy? Of course not. But this country is largely meritocratic. If you're American and you're poor, and your parents were American and poor, and your grandparents were American and poor... you're pretty much guaranteed to belong to a long line of dumbshits.

Sure, there are smart poor people and dumb rich people. But few.

Penny said...

Speaking of oxymorons, I've never understood why "Professionals" need a union to speak for them?

All I know is that WHEN a "Professional" allows a union to speak for them, they've just agreed to give up their own voice, their own opinions and any ability to call themselves a "Professional".

You're OWNED, Mr. and Ms. "Professional". You are OWNED by someone whose job it is to take your money in order to protect the weakest link among all the other "professionals" who gave up their own friggin' voice TOO!

An electronic version of "Kumbaya" plays in the background.

When the teachers agreed to be "dumb" and without their personal voice, is it any surprise that our educational system has also been "dumbed down"?

Revenant said...

Of course some people are smarter than other people. IQ does not measure this phenomenon and, in fact, given the factors and malleability involved, intelligence is not measurable.

IQ is a predictor of academic success, future income, how well you perform in tasks of abstract reasoning, and how likely other people are to describe you as intelligent.

You are welcome to entertain the fantasy that IQ doesn't really measure intelligence and that intelligence can't really be measured. Perhaps it is just an eerie coincidence that it accurately measures the things we associate with intelligence. Maybe there's a real "intelligence" out there that manifests itself in the inability to pound back beers and collect welfare checks, and the astrophysicists are the real dummies.

Seven Machos said...

IQ is a predictor of academic success

It most manifestly is not. Thus, the entire point of this thread. You are truly being a moron tonight.

future income

Again, absolutely not.

how well you perform in tasks of abstract reasoning

Yes! Bingo! Ding ding ding. An IQ test tests how well you do an IQ test.

and how likely other people are to describe you as intelligent

This is hilariously false on its face.

jamboree said...

Put me down for exclusively mastering the material and absolutely NOTHING else. In fact, if they don't show up EVER and can still pass the shit out of that test, they should get the appropriate A or A+.

Teachers and Profs are paid by and serve *us*. Their egos and those of the administrators should not be the kids' problem - neither mine when I was a kid, nor my kids' now or in the future.

I can see why it once was done that way, but it's largely an archaic holdover that holds people back, puts a leash on them, and what they can really do.

Seven Machos said...

If you're American and you're poor, and your parents were American and poor, and your grandparents were American and poor... you're pretty much guaranteed to belong to a long line of dumbshits.

Hey everybody! Let's play a game. Try and spot the part where Rev shuffles with no evidence or logical connection whatsoever from poor to .

For such a smart guy, Rev, you sure can't argue for dick. You seem to be kind of an ass clown, too.

Penny said...

"The problem is that education professionals keep fiddling with the system, mostly in an attempt to repair the damage from the previous fiddling."

If only...

You are an optimist, with no reason to be.

Oh, there is fiddling going on, but not in any attempt to repair the damage done to the students. The "fiddling" is all about covering the asses of union leadership whose job it is to take money from everyone to cover the asses of the least qualified teachers.

If good teachers had not given up their personal voice for the pleasure of being in the company of other dumb people...They would and should be screaming to the high heavens about now.

Not surprisingly...they are all....SILENT about their poor results, and more than happy to scream out about anyone who might want to change their personal status quo.

How ironic is it that, as a society, we have fallen, all too often, for the cry of "FOR THE CHILDREN", while those we entrust with educating our kids are...without voice....dumb....SILENT...except when they CRY OUT against their own accountability?

When they CRY OUT against their union, and their own decision to give up their voice and be dumb, well....that's about the time I might become more optimistic about teachers and the future of our kid's education.

Joel C Anatoli said...

I always wanted to be the rude genius in college. Unfortunately I only could foster the first part.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Seven Machos,

You are correct. Revenant has cited no evidence for his flat assertions that contradict your evidence-free flat assertions.

If that makes him an ass clown, then the rest is left as an exercise for the student.

Jennifer said...

This is like that article that ran in the NYT a few months back about how relatively younger kids within a grade level were significantly more likely to be diagnosed as ADD. File this under Things That Are Obvious To All But The Education Establishment.

Younger kids are less mature. Teachers prefer compliant students. Actual understanding of subject matter is difficult to measure by one person facing a group of 30.

Color me shocked.

At what point do we stop sniffing out the next new fad and revert to the tried and true?

MarkW said...

And it doesn't do girls any favors either, since real careers aren't about handing in all the homework and pleasing the authority figure.

I wish that were true, but I'm afraid it isn't. A lot of jobs don't really need the level of education that is required to get an interview, so compliant-but-not-that-smart works out just fine for a lot of people. Especially if your smarter-but-ornerier-and-more-disorganized competitors get pushed aside early in the process, so they're not even in the running when it comes to actual hiring decisions.

HDHouse said...

and a round of thanks to Mr. Bush for his innovative mandates.

Cato Renasci said...

Grading should be separated so that one grade represents mastery of the material - regardless of how one got there - and another grade represents such things as class participation, homework (the only legitimate purpose of which is to enable students to master the material - if you can master the material without doing homework, you should not be penalized), and all of the 'attitudinal' things teachers prize and (most) boys despise.

shoutingthomas said...

Jesus, Seven, you've really shoveled the bullshit on this one.

First, you're on the blog of an IQ victor. Althouse ascended to her current position by weathering over a decade of constant IQ tests in high school, college and law school to rise to the top.

IQ test accurately predict academic and job success.

That's why every institution uses them.

You've really had an apoplectic fit here. Trying to deny the obvious takes a hell of a lot of energy, doesn't it?

HKatz said...

Paying attention, handing in neat work, and being decently behaved aren't new demands; they've always been around (and held up even more strictly in the past) for boys and girls.

Some new terrible developments are a) emphasis on self-esteem, so that we must not let the little ones struggle too much or face any sort of failure lest their fragile selves be crushed for life and b) ridiculous zero tolerance policies, so if kids bring water guns to school or a knife to cut the cake they helped make for a school party they are treated like criminals.

And there's been a trend in school districts to cancel recess. Kids need time to run around and play, and work things out for themselves socially.

Hagar said...

It has been my experience that the most dangerous thing there is, is a subordinate, or contractor's employee, who does not question me.

MarkW said...

Paying attention, handing in neat work, and being decently behaved aren't new demands; they've always been around (and held up even more strictly in the past) for boys and girls.

Yes and no. Strictness with respect to behavior was enforced with things like detention and staying after school -- not grade deductions. And in my school days, there were no absurd clerical requirements like those my own kids faced--turn in your homework, get it back, put it in your portfolio, turn the portfolio back in at the end of the quarter (with no credit for missing pages even if they were turned in and graded earlier). Insanity. And pure, pointless misery for my smart-but-disorganized son.

One of the things that pissed me off the most about that whole horrendous middle-school experience was the teachers were unflinchingly strict with kids who turned in work late, but the teachers own work was almost ALWAYS LATE! With no repercussions, naturally. They started online grade-books, but by halfway through the year, they were weeks behind in updating. They'd call the day before the end of the marking period to tell us our son was missing work--when it was obviously too late to do anything about it. Why did they wait until then? Because it was the first time they'd noticed themselves as they worked feverishly to catch up in their grade-books at the end of the term.

JAY said...

Intelligence is no more measurable than beauty of musical ability. We call all see it, and sense it, but we can't measure it.

Wow, you've really descended into hysteria Seven Machos.

ndspinelli said...

The teaching profession is really just the world's largest teacher's pet club. It is self sustaining and incestuous.

Shaky Barnes said...

I've often pondered those two archtypes from high school -- the girl who has a straight-A 4.0 but very clearly just is NOT smart and can't hold a conversation about ANYTHING; and the guy with the indifferent grades who doesn't care, but clearly is very intelligent and knows everything there is to know about SOMETHING.

shoutingthomas said...

Intelligence is no more measurable than beauty of musical ability. We call all see it, and sense it, but we can't measure it.

Wow, you've really descended into hysteria Seven Machos.

Yes, he has.

No field weeds people out more ruthlessly on the basis of innate ability than music. In the classical field, you're dead if you haven't demonstrated your innate ability by the time you're 12 years old.

Rigorous testing in competitions sorts out classical musicians into a hierarchy before the musicians even reach puberty.

Seven, as I said, denying the obvious takes so much energy. You've contorted yourself into a pretzel to deny the obvious about IQ.

former law student said...

IQ test accurately predict academic and job success.

That's why every institution uses them.


And that's why Mensa members rule the world, right?

Actually, the ranks of people who do well on IQ tests are filled with nerds, often shockingly lacking common sense.


why "Professionals" need a union to speak for them?

All I know is that WHEN a "Professional" allows a union to speak for them, they've just agreed to give up their own voice, their own opinions and any ability to call themselves a "Professional".


If teachers were like kindly Dr. Welby, teaching children in exchange for chickens, they would not need a union. Instead, they deal with tiny pigheaded government agencies.

J.R. Salzman said...

The entire point of student assessment is to measure student learning. If teachers are not evaluating their students and are simply handing out grades based on "good behavior," how the hell do they know if their students are learning anything??

shoutingthomas said...

IQ test accurately predict academic and job success.

That's why every institution uses them.

And that's why Mensa members rule the world, right?

Actually, the ranks of people who do well on IQ tests are filled with nerds, often shockingly lacking common sense.

Don't see how this contradicts what I have said.

Certainly, other factors than IQ are involved in professional success. IQ is a generalized, not a specific test.

But you can best your last dollar that an IQ of 120 or higher predicts success as a corporate lawyer or a CEO. There may be a few exceptions, but not many.

Revenant said...

You are correct. Revenant has cited no evidence for his flat assertions that contradict your evidence-free flat assertions.

Hehe. :)

Ric Locke said...

The interchange between Seven Machos and several others comes perilously close to revealing the Nasty Little Secret of education and much else in this country since the Sixties. It's a Nasty Little Secret because everybody knows it, but few if any want to say it out loud. As a person with zero status, I am privileged to present it without fear:

Black people do not achieve in the same proportion as whites and others.

It's not just in the United States that the phenomenon arises. In the cultures of mainland South and Central America, where slavery was eliminated early and there has never been racism expressed in Jim Crow laws, the societies order themselves very much as commenter shoutingthomas describes, and despite genuine advantages in natural resources the black and black-majority nations of Africa do not do as well as others do with less. It may just be that we must bite the bullet, so to speak.

Regards,
Ric

DADvocate said...

This certainly reflects my experience with middle school. (My daughter just started 9th grade and my son is in the 12th.)

The female dominated teaching staffs are more hostile to boys and, as New "Hussein" Ham points out, incapable of embarassment. Any criticism of teachers is met with veiled hostility and a "How dare you!? How can you criticize me, a teacher?! You don't know what your talking about!"

75% of our teachers are truly pathetic.

AJ Lynch said...

Rev asked : then why do schools always ask for more money.

That was my point in a way. The schools will never say some kids are just dumb and doomed and some parents are plain lousy and worthless. So they lie and say the schools need more money.

Revenant said...

"IQ test accurately predict academic and job success."

And that's why Mensa members rule the world, right?

Is "world ruling" a job? I totally missed that one on Career Day.

Pongo said...

Up here in British Columbia, Canada, my daughter showed up with a report card that had "Social Responsibility" as the first graded category. And no, it wasn't anything to do with Civics.

former law student said...

Black people do not achieve in the same proportion as whites and others.

Brainpower is inversely proportional to the amount of melanin in one's skin? What's your theory behind that, and why don't albinos rule the world?

you can arrange groups in descending IQ order thusly:

1. Ashkenazy Jews


And yet they came within an eyelash of extermination.

I'm going to stick my neck out and say that high IQ breeds failure.

Revenant said...

That was my point in a way. The schools will never say some kids are just dumb and doomed and some parents are plain lousy and worthless.

That's what makes standardized tests useful. Parents, students, and teachers all hate it, but it holds everyone to the same standard. If the problem is the student or the parents, you'll know because that student will do worse than the students with better parents or better innate ability. If the problem is the teacher, that teacher's students will do worse than other teachers'. If the problem is the school, etc etc.

It isn't a perfect situation, since schools pull all sorts of dirty tricks to cook the books. For example, it is common to dump all the dumbest kids on the new teachers to protect the tenured teachers; this can make the new teachers look like idiots when in reality the deck has been stacked against them. There are ways to fix those problems, though (e.g. randomized class placement).

J.R. Salzman said...

Our nations schools do NOT need more money. The US is ranked third in the world for spending per pupil. In terms of achievement, U.S. 12th graders ranked 19th in math, 16th in science, and last in advanced physics. We need accountability and the ability to fire crappy teachers.

former law student said...

Is "world ruling" a job? I totally missed that one on Career Day.

Rev argues the world is not a meritocracy.

My work here is done.

goyomarquez said...

I don't know…grading kids for compliance and pleasing sounds pretty much like my law school experience at UCLA…except that in law school people are also rewarded for cheating on tests and lying on resumes without getting caught. The reason there is so much B.S. in the world is because systems based on the evaluation of one human by another tend to reward the schmoozers and the well connected, irrespective of outcomes.

shoutingthomas said...

1. Ashkenazy Jews

And yet they came within an eyelash of extermination.

I'm going to stick my neck out and say that high IQ breeds failure.

I guess that's an attempt at humor.

And, yet, contemporary Ashkenazy Jews dominate the highest levels of the corporate legal biz in NYC.

Revenant said...

Brainpower is inversely proportional to the amount of melanin in one's skin?

We define "black" by melanin content? Damn, I could have gotten that United Negro College Fund scholarship if I'd spent more time at the tanning salon.

J.R. Salzman said...

Brainpower is inversely proportional to the amount of melanin in one's skin? What's your theory behind that, and why don't albinos rule the world?

We're taught not to talk about it in school for fear of being called racist. But the data doesn't lie. Blacks consistently under perform whites, regardless of socioeconomic status. The Times just had an article on it actually:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/09/education/09gap.html?_r=3&hpw

Revenant said...

Rev argues the world is not a meritocracy.

I did? When? I just poked fun at the idea that there are people who "rule the world".

Revenant said...

The old joke is that right-wingers don't believe in evolution and left-wingers don't believe in heredity. There's a lot of truth to that joke.

former law student said...

And, yet, contemporary Ashkenazy Jews dominate the highest levels of the corporate legal biz in NYC.

Yeshiva-style study of the Law beautifully prepares one to be a lawyer.

DADvocate said...

"IQ test accurately predict academic and job success.

There is a stronger correlation between height and wavy hair and success than betwnne IQ/grades and success. If you're not too lazy, do a litter research.

I've never worked in a place where the smartest person was the person in charge. I'm sure you can find a few places where that is the case, but it'd be the exception, not the rule.

arkjer said...

I'm a teacher. I teach mostly high school seniors.

So much of education is becoming the BS that is mentioned in the article. There is this bizarre notion that we have scores of brilliant students that are "above" doing the homework, but they know the stuff so they should all get A's. It's BS. The kids that do the stuff and are polite and have good communication skills and know how to get along, these kids do well in college. The kids that know how to do it, but refuse, or don't have the organizational skills, generally don't do well in college.

I have come to learn in my career that you don't get through life based on what you know. You get through life based on what you do. And there is a big difference between what you know and what you do. I know how to do my taxes, but I have to, you know, actually do my taxes for it to count. Same with paying my water bill or reading the fine print in my mortgage documentation.

Education should focus more on process than on knowledge because it is generally through processes (reading, writing, observing) that we obtain knowledge and it is always through a process (writing, speaking) that we communicate our knowledge. The Greeks understood this. Why have we, as educators, forgotten this?

And kids pick up on this notion that knowing things is more important than doing things. "I shouldn't have to write that paper on the Revolutionary War because I already know everything". BS, kid. Show me. And show me that you know the stuff by writing an excellent paper. "But this isn't English class". Yeah, but it's the English language, and you need to know how to use it correctly to do well beyond high school.

Leslie said...

Agreed! This is exactly what I see in our high school. However, when the girls get to college they struggle and don't have the good grades they had in high school, switch to an easier college, or flunk out. The boys appear to thrive. Our parish has implemented weighted grades to counteract this. Tests count for more of their grade than homework. The students GPA's are dropping. Being from Louisiana, I am not pleased with the public school system. Favoritism plays a large roll in academics as well as sports and extracurricular activities in our school. I am extremely disappointed in the principal the many of the teachers who have yet to grow up.

prairie wind said...

The problem with education is obvious. It's the teachers.

They need to be replaced.


Of course! Because all the unemployed teachers are better than those who are currently employed. Trooper was being funny, but Obama's education department proposes just this solution for failing schools.

geoffrobinson said...

This is a case for homeschooling, although I wasn't homeschooled nor do I plan to homeschool my children. One size does not fit all. You can tailor your curriculum to the individual.

However, that said... kids need to learn not to be punks and take orders and be nice.

Oligonicella said...

"Students who are prepared, compliant, good school citizens, well organized and hard-working are far more likely to have mastery of the material."

Far more likely? Not just more likely? Or maybe just likely? Possibly, perhaps would.

stevenehrbar said...

Wouldn't kids who have "mastered the material" tend to be -- while not compliant necessarily (<--- why does that make my skin crawl?) -- more "with the program" so to speak?

Maybe, but how can you tell it's inherent, instead of a result of a self-fulfilling prophecy?

I personally was a D/F student in late elementary school and throughout middle school. I was also kept in all of the advanced classes and the gifted program, because it was blatantly obvious that I was getting the lousy grades out of noncompliance instead of non-comprehension.

So, now, how many kids are noncompliant and higher-than-average-comprehension, but not so blatantly brilliant that it can force the teachers to see it through the fog of expectations? How many of them wind up getting slotted to slower classes as a result, where they have even higher boredom, which causes them to become even more rebellious and alienated from "the program"? In classes where they're taught less material, and thus wind up with less mastery to display than they are capable of?

That is, how many of the kids who decide school is stupid and write it off (and thus are written off in turn by the system) are doing so precisely because it is run stupidly (at least for people like them), and they don't have the patience (as children) for enduring stupidity? How do you even begin to guess?

Revenant said...

There is a stronger correlation between height and wavy hair and success than betwnne IQ/grades and success. If you're not too lazy, do a litter research.

The correlations I found between height and income put it in the r=.2 range, give or take .08 or so. IQ to income is .45 give or take 0.05 or so.

shoutingthomas said...

I'd like to join in this chorus knocking the school system for boring people to death. It does.

But... and it's a big bug...

Your job is likely to bore you to death. You're going to have to deal with problematic, asinine people at every job you ever have, unless you seal yourself off in your own living room and write software.

You're going to have a stupid, bullying boss. You're going to work for institutions that are rotten to the core.

The problem here is the human condition. Humans, among all their other characteristics, are crappy, boring and vindictive.

School is the place you learn to put up with this. You either learn how to prosper in spite of this crap, or you get beaten down.

I say this as somebody who is neither at the top or the bottom of this scrum. Probably just a little above the middle. Knowing how to navigate the stupidity of the scrum, along with intelligence, determines your fate.

Revenant said...

I've never worked in a place where the smartest person was the person in charge. I'm sure you can find a few places where that is the case, but it'd be the exception, not the rule.

I'm curious why you and FLS both equate "career success" with "being in charge". Being in charge is indicative of success if you're in management. If you're a doctor, lawyer, engineer, electrician, salesman, plumber, etc... it is entirely possible for you to have a long, successful, and lucrative career without ever being "the boss".

Ric Locke said...

Brainpower is inversely proportional to the amount of melanin in one's skin? What's your theory behind that, and why don't albinos rule the world?

I have no theory -- or, rather, I have several theories, some of them mutually exclusive, and I take none of them seriously.

It fails to matter. As arkjer points out, ...you don't get through life based on what you know. You get through life based on what you do. Until and unless we base evaluations on what is done rather than airy-fairy theories, our society will suffer.

From here it looks like objective evaluations will tend to put black people into lower levels. That is a tragedy, and it would be very good if we can contrive ways to avoid it -- but artificially inflating the achievements of some at the expense of others serves nobody.

Regards,
Ric

Ignorance is Bliss said...

former law student said...

I'm going to stick my neck out and say that high IQ breeds failure.

Wow, maybe President Obama is as smart as his supporters claim.

Ronnie Schreiber said...


Here is my hope for you: I hope that tonight you are taken away on a boat across an ocean to a foreign place. I hope you are forced to do menial tasks there all your life. I hope you are given no education there. I hope that your children are treated like dog shit even after emancipation.
Seven Machos


Now that you've described the condition of Jews in Europe before 1900 (frequent exiles, restrictions on them joining professions and getting an education, institutional anti-semitism), can you explain why
Jews have thrived in a more open society, while people from some other cultures continue to stagnate in those same open societies?

Ronnie Schreiber said...

(1) you needed a score in the 500s or so (lower than that was usually beyond my help and higher was a problem because there is a coaching ceiling around 700);

So you admit that some kids are not smart enough to do well on standard tests, and some kids are smart enough to do better than even the kids who are coached.

Seems to me that you are presenting evidence that argues against yourself, i.e. that some aspects of intelligence are congenital.

Ronnie Schreiber said...


1. Ashkenazy Jews

And yet they came within an eyelash of extermination.


Alternatively one can see the Jews as having survived the onslaught of two of the most totalitarian regimes in human history, Rome and Nazi Germany. Jews took their enemies' best shots and still survived. Pretty sure that says something about their survival skills.

MarkW said...

There is this bizarre notion that we have scores of brilliant students that are "above" doing the homework, but they know the stuff so they should all get A's. It's BS.

But college courses don't have graded daily homework assignments. There are plenty of students with mediocre high-school grades and high ACT/SAT scores who do very well in a university environment that does not give out grades based on compliance with busy work. And there are also plenty of high-school students with high GPAs who find the amount of work at the college level (and grades based on a few, challenging high-stakes tests) a real shock and perform significantly worse than they did in high school.

My own kid ended up with just average HS grades but college-entrance exam scores in the upper 90th percentiles. Which meant that he was, in fact, mastering the material at a very high level, but the K-12 grading system completely failed to measure and reward his success in learning.

And it was obvious why that was. You can forget to turn in an assignment or two and the impact of 0/100 (vs even a failing grade of 60/100) is enormous. Your grade can't recover from even a small number of zeros -- despite them telling you essentially nothing about what the student has learned or the quality of his other work.

He is now thriving at the university level (apparently one of those mythical students you've never seen)--partly because he's more mature but even more because of the teaching environment (there's no grading on busy work).

Ronnie Schreiber said...

Seven Machos,

Why even bother with grades? Are not "grades" some form of applying a standard criteria to evaluate all? How is a 5th grade math test really different from an IQ test or SAT?

former law student said...

can you explain why
Jews have thrived in a more open society


By knowing when to quit studying Torah and Talmud, and going to work. Here's what happens when they don't:

By Matt King, Times Herald-Record

KIRYAS JOEL — This village has always had the distinction of being a cultural and religious enclave, but now it can add another:

Kiryas Joel is the poorest place in the country.

According to the latest round of U.S. Census figures, released late last year, the village has the highest poverty rate in the nation, and the largest percentage of residents who receive food stamps. Only one other place in the 50 states has a lower median income. The median household income in Kiryas Joel is $15,848; in Carbondale, Ill., it's $15,799.

More than two-thirds of Kiryas Joel residents live below the federal poverty line and more than 40 percent receive food stamps, according to the American Community Survey, a U.S. Census Bureau study of every place in the country with 20,000 residents or more.

That makes the village poorer than crumbling big cities like Detroit and noted slums like East St. Louis, and by far the poorest place in the mid-Hudson.

The poverty rate in Newburgh, the next-poorest place, is 28 percent. Regionwide, it's about 11.5 percent. Places in the country with poverty rates similar to Kiryas Joel are mostly college towns with large populations of students who don't have full-time jobs.

Village officials did not return calls seeking comment, but an expert in Hasidic communities said the poverty figures are tied strongly to the village's religious culture and mores.

Pressure to have many children and the demand to send them to expensive private schools, combined with a low number of people who go to college or leave the village to get higher-paying jobs, produces a static and poor society, said Samuel Heilman, professor of Jewish studies at Queens College.

"This is a population that sees childbirth as a sign of high status and for women a fulfillment of their divine and socially sanctioned role in life," Heilman said. "They are also an insular community that see life on the inside superior to the outside."

The tendency toward large families is borne out in the American Community Survey data.

The median age in the village is 14.4, meaning half of its more than 21,000 residents is 14 or younger.

Also, the village has the highest marriage rate in the country, with 80 percent of women ages 15 to 50 being married.

Seven Machos said...

How is a 5th grade math test really different from an IQ test or SAT?

There is a critical difference. Math tests are tests that test stuff you have learned after you get a chance to learn stuff. SATs (at least the older version, the "uncoachable" one) and all IQ tests by their own definition purport exactly to test stuff you have never had a chance to learn. So, in sum, lame.

Seven Machos said...

Wow. I just read through this thread starting at where last night left off. What is it about bullshit intelligence tests (some of which, such as the ACT, don't even claim to measure intelligence) that brings out the disgusting racists?

Tom Buchanan would be proud, dudes. You guys should get together for some polo.

shoutingthomas said...

Wow. I just read through this thread starting at where last night left off. What is it about bullshit intelligence tests (some of which, such as the ACT, don't even claim to measure intelligence) that brings out the disgusting racists?

You are a dumb, posturing prick, Seven.

Right down to the Bigot-O-Mania shit.

You're lower than dirt.

That diatribe you directed at me was the work of a juvenile cunt.

How do you have the nerve to even appear here again after shitting your pants like that?

Go away, stupid cunt.

shoutingthomas said...

This Seven Nachos cunt is one of the most fanatical racists bastards I've ever encountered.

Note that the SOB thinks he has a corner on compassion, as if he alone knows what is right for people born to poverty.

I was born in a shotgun shack in the middle of the cornfields.

My late wife, Myrna, was born in the shantytown of Ologopo in the Philippines. I've been there.

The way this stupid fuck carries on, you'd think he alone knows what poverty and struggle are.

Jesus, you are one of the most contemptible SOBS in the universe, SOB.

Go fuck yourself.

Seven Machos said...

Go away, stupid cunt.

I'll be here all week, Thomas. By the way, I found this fascinating: Rigorous testing in competitions sorts out classical musicians into a hierarchy before the musicians even reach puberty.

Is your vaunted IQ test a "rigorous" test? Also, are IQ tests competitions? Furthermore, what is the numerical score given to your classical musicians. Please enlighten us, bigot.

Seven Machos said...

This Seven Nachos cunt is one of the most fanatical racists bastards

So, you arrange in groups based on race as it correlates to a completely bullshit numerical score. Yet I am a racist. Now, I'm really curious. Please explain how it is that you, who feverishly groups people by race, are not a racist. This is going to be awesome.

shoutingthomas said...

Seven,

You are a vicious no-good stupid cunt.

The "compassion" BS you're peddling is a mask for a vicious SOB.

You are lower than dirt.

What a stupid scumbag!

I hope you receive the beating you truly deserve.

JAY said...

and all IQ tests by their own definition purport exactly to test stuff you have never had a chance to learn.

Really?

Then wouldn't everyone's scores be zero or something?

Your posts are a silly joke.

shoutingthomas said...

No, you aren't curious, Seven,

You're a worthless, conniving, vicious bastard.

Go fuck yourself.

You are a totally worthless piece of shit,

The "compassion" crap is a mask.

Seven Machos said...

Then wouldn't everyone's scores be zero or something?

JAY -- The whole point of IQ tests and the old SAT is to test things that you do not learn in school, ostensibly to measure your innate intelligence. This is obvious and generally known, and your ignorance here is astonishing.. Go take an IQ test. They are freely available online.

Seven Machos said...

Come on, Thomas. Explain how you are not racist despite the fact that you group people based on race -- numerically, no less. I am genuinely curious.

Milwaukee said...

Sorry guys, I was going to read more before commenting, but this stuck out:
Seven Machos said...

Lucid -- We are talking about basic skills here that anyone who is not terminally, clinically stupid can learn. If any group of students has not mastered algebra after a year, or grammar, or reading, it's the teacher's fault. It's not the students' fault and not their parents' fault.


Did you see the recent report in the NYT that the gap between achievement in Black and White students can not be explained by poverty alone? To be sure, family income makes a difference, as does having a family. There are children with such baggage that the best teachers can't help them.

As for the teachers, well, having teachers unions has turned many teachers into making their salary and effort of primary importance. Many masters in education are paid for in advance from the paper mill of choice. We need to do a great deal to change our educational system. For starters, let's get away from Carnegie Units: credit in Algebra I should be from mastering material, not from sitting in a chair for 50-minutes-a-day for 180 days.

As for reforming the educational system, Peter the Great reformed his army. He sent prospective officers to Prussia, Britain, France and Italy for instruction. He organized those men, and kept them separate from his old army. When he had enough new army officers, they had a banquet. The old army officers sat opposite the new army officers. At the end of the dinner, the new officers executed the old ones. Viola'. New army which thinks like a modern new army.

shoutingthomas said...

Come on, Thomas. Explain how you are not racist despite the fact that you group people based on race -- numerically, no less. I am genuinely curious.

I an genuinely curious, Seven.

For how many generations has your family been involved in the Klan?

Ric Locke said...

Seven --

Your objection is BS.

Learning is not something that takes place only, or even primarily, in a school. The whole world is an intelligence test, full of information that people either learn or don't, and the grade is how well or poorly the individual achieves in it.

Standardized tests like IQ, SAT, and so on are simply attempts to approximate that. They make assumptions (possibly invalid ones) about what information is "out there" in the World, and test to see how much of it the testee has picked up, in an attempt to evaluate the chances without actually tossing the failures into a favela.

Certainly they could and should do better, but they're about as far from "...test[ing] stuff you have never had a chance to learn..." as the formulators can make them.

Regards,
Ric

shoutingthomas said...

So, you have answered, Seven, you racist fuck.

Are you getting out the sheets and going to the Klan meeting tonight?

JAY said...

The whole point of IQ tests and the old SAT is to test things that you do not learn in school, ostensibly to measure your innate intelligence.

So "school" is the only place you learn?

That's your assertion?

JAY said...

and your ignorance here is astonishing..

Um, I'm not the one asserting that all learning takes place in school.

That would be news to a hell of a lot of people.

Milwaukee said...

This is not news to me. As a high math school teacher, I have seen junior high teachers, and then middle school teachers, channel students into Algebra I at an earlier grade. Some of those students had the skills. Many had the "highly school compliant" skill set. When they got far enough into high school math that they had the wrong skill set, I was blamed. What these students knew how to do was rote work, they couldn't think their way through a problem. But teaching Algebra I or Algebra II to junior high school students was a ton more fun than teaching general math. Those Algebra I classes were a breeze because of all the highly school compliant students.

We need to evaluate students on many fronts: mastery of the content is one, yet doing work on time for someone else is still a valuable ability. Folks at the DMV are not going to be amused when your car registration or drivers license are way overdue. So there needs to be academic and non-academic teaching and training.

BTW: I had a student once tell how he was taking Western Civilization for the 4th time. The first time, his parents were getting divorced, and his teacher reminded him of his dad. Teacher says "Covers on your books before Friday, 5 extra credit points a day. Covers required on Friday. After Friday, 5 points taken off per day for not having a cover." Student says "I was damned if I was putting a cover on my book. I'm sure if I had all those 5 points I would have passed with a D." This student flunked for the wrong reason.

I had a colleague who taught English one floor below the Calculus teacher. The Calculus teacher gave extra credit for the students having their parents sign their weekly grade report sheets. The daughter of the English teacher forgot. The Calculus teacher gave the daughter a B+. With the extra credits, she would have gotten an A. The B+ cost her some serious scholarship money. What the heck was that?

Look at a baseball card from a gum package. A baseball card doesn't have a single "grade". It has a pile of statistics upon which we can make a judgment. In that regard, Ty Cobb out voted Babe Ruth when it came Hall of Fame time. That was the statistic that Cobb cared about the most. Grade reports need to be more than a single letter grade.

Seven Machos said...

So "school" is the only place you learn?

Dude. Listen to me. The whole point of IQ tests is to test innate knowledge -- things you did not learn ever, but innately know as a function of your super-awesome brain power. This is the design of the tests.

Your questions are fascinating because they evidence an utter lack of knowledge about the subject matter coupled with an apparent belief that you know much more than you do.

Seven Machos said...

JAY -- Your ignorance about IQ tests is astonishing. You do not seem to understand what they are, or how they purport to work.

Maguro said...

It's the government that groups people based on race. And tracks each race's test scores obsessively to the point where our entire educational policy is geared towards eliminating the Black-White achievement gap on standardized tests. Busing, charter schools, affirmative action, etc.

Seven doesn't notice any of this, he's completely oblivious to it. And he thinks that makes him the smart one.

shoutingthomas said...

Seven Nachos,

You haven't answered the question.

What's your rank in the Klan?

How often do you attend meetings?

Seven Machos said...

Maguro -- Then the government is racist, like Thomas. Do you disagree that it is racist to group people and rank people numerically by race?

Seven Machos said...

Thomas -- You have gone off the rails. In this thread, you have alleged that some sect of Jews is the smartest people in the world, followed by -- if I recall correctly -- people from East Asia, then white blacks. This is your assertion.

I am asking you to explain how grouping people by race as you do is not racist.

shoutingthomas said...

I am asking you to explain how grouping people by race as you do is not racist.

I am asking you why you belong to the Klan.

It's all over the web.

Why do you continue to work to advance the goals of the Klan?

shoutingthomas said...

Seven Nacho, what is your rank in the Klan?

Why do you refuse to answer?

I gather you have no answer.

Seven Machos said...

Thomas -- I have never asserted anything about the Ku Klux Klan. You have asserted, in this thread, that you believe that different groups of people based on race are smarter or dumber than other groups. I am simply asking you to explain how this grouping based on race is not racist.

shoutingthomas said...

Thomas -- I have never asserted anything about the Ku Klux Klan.

Incorrect.

Tell us why you belong to the Klan, Seven.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Seven Machos said...

Thomas -- I am sorry that you have become a lunatic and now refuse to explain why are not racist despite the fact that you have stated your belief that some groups of people of the same ethnic origin are smarter than other groups of people of another ethnic origin.

shoutingthomas said...

Seven, I am sorry that a person should lower themselves to Klan affiliation.

But, you have, as we can see by your refusal to tell us about your Klan activities.

Seven Machos said...

Thomas -- I have never mentioned Klan activities. You have mentioned your racist beliefs in this thread.

shoutingthomas said...

Thomas -- I have never mentioned Klan activities. You have mentioned your racist beliefs in this thread.

Your Klan activities are well know.

And you refuse to renounce them.

Do you have a meeting tonight?

shoutingthomas said...

Seven Nachos, the thread is yours.

I'll have nothing more to do with you, since you refuse to disclose your rank in the Klan.

JAY said...

Your questions are fascinating because they evidence an utter lack of knowledge about the subject matter coupled with an apparent belief that you know much more than you do.


Really?

So if you never leared to read, would you be able to take an IQ test?

JAY said...

The whole point of IQ tests is to test innate knowledge -- things you did not learn ever,

Yes, you "did not lear ever" numbers!

And the meaning of words such as "apple, marmalade, orange, cherry, grape" (sample question: Which word does not belong?

!!!!!

You are an idiot beyond belief.

Seven Machos said...

So if you never leared to read, would you be able to take an IQ test?

Yes, dumb ass. IQ tests are given to children all the time.

Maguro said...

It would certainly be wonderful if the government didn't view education policy through a racial prism and just treated everyone as a unique and valuable human being.

Back in the real world, though, federal micromanagement through racial bean-counting is the way education policy is done. And after 40 years of attempting to erase the black-white achievement gap through various "cutting-edge" educational policies, they're still drawing the wrong conclusions from their own data.

If you want a concrete illustration of how the obsessive pursuit of racial test score parity has produced bad education policy, read here about what was done in Kansas City.

former law student said...

It's the government that groups people based on race.

True:

Stephen Colbert: Now, I don't see color. People tell me I'm white and I believe them because police officers call me "sir".

This clip tickled me:

http://www.colbertnation.com
/the-colbert-report-videos/267561
/march-17-2010/nell-irvin-painter

Ric Locke said...

...explain how grouping people by race as you do is not racist.

Bulls*t. People arrange themselves in more or less that order, according to their performance on the Massively Multiplayer Intelligence Test we laughingly refer to as "the real world". Anyone who has any experience in a multiethnic environment can observe this anecdotally, and every honest systematic investigation establishes the same thing.

thomas and I point this out, and are accused of "racism"; this is more or less equivalent to a charge of "azimuthism" resulting from observing that the Sun rises in the East.

You do provide an example of Progress, though. Patriotism is no longer the last refuge of the scoundrel. We have charges of racism instead.

Regards,
Ric

former law student said...

We define "black" by melanin content?

Yes, melanin comes from the Greek word melas, meaning black.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Seven Machos, I think you need to dial it back a bit. The accusations of racism are way too much.

Is it racist to note that Ashkenazi Jews get Tay-Sachs and sub-saharan Africans get sickle-cell anemia, and that these diseases are hereditary? Is it racist to note that height, skin color, eye color, hair and tendency to obesity are dependent on heredity and thus correlate to some extent with race?

If intelligence is real, and can be inherited, and correlates with whatever IQ tests measure, these are empirical questions which are proved or disproved by evidence. Not that you've offered any. It is not racist to ask the question or answer it.

It's only racist to treat individual people as though they represent the average of their race, without acknowledging them as individuals. It's racist to tell a black person that they can't be a physicist because black people have a lower mean IQ. It's not racist to say that black people collectively have a lower mean IQ. One is a prejudice, the other an empirical statement.

Don't believe in g or IQ if you don't want, don't believe that intelligence is a function of the brain which is shaped by your genetic inheritance, but dial back the feces flinging. That's all it is.

You have no evidence on your side, so you accuse people of being evil. That needs to stop. You're as bad as the creationists blaiming Hitler and Darwin. Dial it back.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@fls:

Yes, melanin comes from the Greek word melas, meaning black.

Etymological fallacy. Bangladeshis and Australian Aborigines are not "black", as Americans use the word and you know perfectly well.

Chinese have more melanin but no one descibes them as "black".

Samuel Pepys described women with dark hair as "black women". Don't make arguments in bad faith to score points.

E.M. Davis said...

I had a great high school biology teacher growing up. The tests were very difficult but you were able to take the test initially three times. If you got above a certain score, you had 2 more cracks at it. Oh, and he would mark the ones you got wrong, so you could re-study or "re-learn" it. The methodology forced you to review the material more than one time, just memorizing it for a test.

Now, I don't recall much biology, so maybe it wasn't that great — but I never took another biology class.

Roux said...

My wife is a teacher and what irritates her most about the standardized tests is the way it gives kids a pass in her classes. Many really smart kids do nothing all year and slide by making poor grades and not really participating. Then they pass the standardized tests and are on to the next grade. In Louisiana the LEAP test is designed to see if you made a D and can pass to the next grade.

Seven Machos said...

Gabriel -- We've had this discussion before. IQ is bullshit. Moreover, it is fascinating that all the people who believe in IQ tend to believe that IQ can be sorted by ethnic groups and, hilariously, that they themselves come out on the high end.

I bet you don't believe in a beauty score, though. Why is that?

former law student said...

Don't make arguments in bad faith to score points.

Don't jump into a discussion at comment 176 without reading the relevant posts. The assertion was

Black people do not achieve in the same proportion as whites and others.

I was trying to prod the commenter into providing some rationale why this would be so. Then the Rev stepped in. Note the original statement made no mention of geography.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@fls:

You said we define "black" by melanin concentration. We don't, and you know it, and you only said it to try to score points. You may have said other things I disagree with or don't, but I didn't comment on them.

@Seven Machos:

I know you think IQ is bullshit, and you know I disagree. I'm just saying that your accusations of racism are not a substitute for your failure to cite evidence.

I bet you don't believe in a beauty score, though. Why is that?

Yes, you could come up with a beauty score that would correlate with how we use the word "beautiful" about people. There are in fact algorithms based on facial proportions and whatnot that do this:

http://www.facebeautyrank.com/

If you assigned people a "beauty score" I have no objection, although of course I would rank pretty low (only my mother and my wife think I'm beautiful).

You wouldn't feel so outraged by IQ if you didn't think that people who are "smart" have less worth than people who are not. That's YOUR problem, not mine. To me all people are worthy of love and human rights and whatnot, smart or not. And so I'm not offended by the objectively demonstrated existence of g and its heritability, because I'm not going to assign legal privileges or moral worth based on the results of IQ testing, and I understand the difference between people and statistics.

The Right Curmudgeon said...

As the father of a really really smart but not very well-behaved thirteen year-old boy, I couldn't agree more. My boy is going to be a huge success in life, and I worry every day that most of what will happens in school between now and then will hinder that success more than it helps.




Look, this will sound harsh. Everyone deserved dignity as a human being, from the least intelligent to the most intelligent. But the truth is that most of what has raised society from the jungle has been accomplished by individuals at the east end of the bell curve -- invention, entrepreneurship, leadership, victory, problem-solving, creation. To the extent that our schools do not cherish and focus on the most capable minds -- not the neatest, not the nicest, not the most polite, not the most punctual, but the most intellectually capable -- they are not only disserving those children, they are disserving America's future.

Seven Machos said...

If you assigned people a "beauty score" I have no objection

Utter bullshit. I think a chick is hot. She's a brunette with chubby cheeks and big tits. My buddy thinks she isn't. She's got a big nose and a fat ass.

What's the beauty score?

The incessant belief that "science" can rank everything is quaint and hilarious. It also does substantial damage.

former law student said...

To the extent that our schools do not cherish and focus on the most capable minds -- not the neatest, not the nicest, not the most polite, not the most punctual, but the most intellectually capable -- they are not only disserving those children, they are disserving America's future.

This disservice has been going on for over a century, then. Teachers have always focused on the bulk of the class, not the upper percentile or two. The philosophy has always been that smart kids can take care of themselves. Given 25 kids, isn't it more important to focus on turning out 23 competent functioning members of society than to put all one's effort into the class's extremes?

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Seven Machos:

he's a brunette with chubby cheeks and big tits. My buddy thinks she isn't. She's got a big nose and a fat ass.

What's the beauty score?


correlation, n. In Statistics, an interdependence of two or more variable quantities such that a change in the value of one is associated with a change in the value or the expectation of the others.

Just because you can assign a "beauty score" doesn't mean that in every case everyone will agree with what it tells you--NO ONE EVER CLAIMED IT COULD. Because it is a STATISTICAL argument.

Next you'll be telling me that no American has 2.3 children and that the word "grey" is meaningless.

You are not going to get anywhere arguing about statistics if you don't grasp the concepts behind statistics.

This, of course, is why you go straight to racism--you got nuthin.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Seven Machos:

We quantify things all the time: creditworthiness, for example. If you had to rank the greatest clutch hitters in baseball, you would use STATISTICS. Of course everyone would argue as to which ones worked better, and which players' careers were inadequately captured by the statistical measure used, but however you decided to go about it, most people's rankings would have mostly the same names at the top.

And this is where intelligence testing is. Volumes and volumes of statistics, all of which you dismiss with a wave of the hand because you don't like the results.

Well, that makes you the equivalent of a creationist, and you argue in the same way, with accusations of evil motives and evil consequences.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@SevenMachos:

BMI, for example--for people like Arnold Schawrzenegger BMI mistakenly rates them as obese, but for the majority of the population it's an accurate index of obesity. Is it the only one? No. Is it infallible? No. Is it useful most of the time? Yes.

You can't impugn that by dismissing statistics out of hand because they are statistical. You have to throw out nearly all of science if you do.

Seven Machos said...

Gabriel -- Your belief that what statisticians do is meaningful in any way outside of the actual underlying thing being ostensibly measured is touching.

Seven Machos said...

BMI is stuff you can see and touch. Intelligence, artistic ability, musical ability -- these are not.

Statistics and measurements are hammers dude. Everything is not a nail.

former law student said...

New teacher James Herndon, on sorting kids by the results of IQ and standardized achievement tests into classes in an urban junior high, back in the 60s:

Talking just to any teacher, as I did that year, you can hear a perfectly plausible lecture to the effect that IQ (or Mental Maturity, as it now goes) tests are not particularly valid under the best of conditions--that is, their validity is only general...

What about good old GW?
Not so middle class by a long shot, not to mention verbally adequate. Most teachers, I say, will give you that kind of talk, yet at the same time you'll
probably find, in that teacher's grade book, alongside the names, the scores--116, 113, 118, 111, 115, like that --making it about a B class at GW. Come report-card time the teacher will be worrying about so-and-so whose
IQ is at the bottom of her point spread and yet is doing a work. Like a gambler worrying about his own point spread when it doesn't work out, she may suspect a fix. In her class the 119's should be making A's, and the 111's should do C work. It's a comfort, I suppose, that surprisingly often these grade and IQ ratios worked out just right and no one had to worry about it.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@fls:

back in the 60s

Yes, fls, do try to discredit work done in 2010 with anecdotes from FIFTY YEARS AGO.

I have never seen IQ in a teachers gradebook and never knew the IQ or SAT scores of any of my students.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Seven Machos:

Your belief that what statisticians do is meaningful in any way outside of the actual underlying thing being ostensibly measured is touching.

Okay, so you've outed yourself as a denier.

It's very boring to try to argue with someone who says only "Nuh-uh! RACIST! Statistics don't mean anything".

So I'm not going to try to get you to see it any differently.

BMI is stuff you can see and touch. Intelligence, artistic ability, musical ability -- these are not.

And creditworthiness?

Statistics and measurements are hammers dude. Everything is not a nail.

No one denies this, but if you want to make the case that something is inherently unquantifiable you need evidence, not yelling that people are racist.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@fls:

Keep trying to pretend it's all subjective and no research went on in the last fifty years:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn1520-iq-is-inherited-suggests-twin-study.html

Paul Thompson at the University of California at Los Angeles and his colleagues used MRI to scan the brains of 10 pairs of identical and 10 pairs of fraternal twins. Identical twins have identical genes, whereas fraternal twins sharing on average half their genes. The twins shared environments, means researchers can separate genetic and environmental factors.

The researchers found that certain regions of the brain were highly heritable. These included language areas, known as Broca's and Wernicke's areas, and the frontal region, which, among other things, plays a huge role in cognition.

In identical twins, these areas showed a 95 to 100 per cent correlation between one twin and the other - they were essentially the same. The frontal structure, says Thompson, appears to be as highly influenced by genes as the most highly influenced trait we know of - fingerprints.

"It's extraordinary how similar they are," he says. The finding suggests that environment - their own personal experiences, what they learned in life, who they knew - played a negligible role in shaping it.

Fraternal twins were near-identical in Wernicke's area, showing about 60 to 70 per cent correlation, but were less similar in other areas, . Random pairs of people would be expected to have no correlation.

The study was all the more interesting in that it found that not only was this gray matter highly heritable, but it affected overall intelligence as well. "We found that differences in frontal gray matter were significantly linked with differences in intellectual function," the authors write.

The volunteers each took a battery of tests that examined 17 separate abilities, including verbal and spatial working memory, attention tasks, verbal knowledge, motor speed and visuospatial ability.

These tests hone in on what's known as "g", the common element measured by IQ tests. People who do well on one of these tests tend to do well on them all, says Thompson.

It is not known what exactly "g" is. But these new findings suggest that "g" is not just a statistical abstraction, but rather, that it has a biological substrate in the brain, says Robert Plomin, of the Institute of Psychiatry in London. Plomin has spent eight years looking for genes behind "g". "I'm convinced that there are genes," he says, a lot of them, each with a small effect.

Stephen Kosslyn of Harvard University in Boston questions whether "g" should really be called intelligence. "G" picks up on abilities such as being able to abstract rules or figure out how to order things according to rules. "It's the kind of intelligence you need to do well in school," he says. "Not what you need to do well in life."

Ric Locke said...

Nowadays I chuckle when a leftoid starts hollering "raaaaacist!"

It means that the accuser has exhausted all resources pertaining to rational discourse, and is resorting to carpet-pounding, shrieks of outrage, and threats to "...hold my breath 'til I turn blue!"

Go ahead. Blue looks good on you.

Regards,
Ric

jr565 said...

Seven Machos wrote:
IQ tests and standardized tests are bullshit, dude. They are false measurements of nothing that is measurable.

I agree with you about the IQ tests, but disagree about the standardized test. IQ tests ARE bullshit, becase they assume that smartness is being able to andwer these little puzzle like questions. But, just as with any subject you coul train yourself to do well on the IQ test by simply taking practice IQ tests. Once your brain is familiar with what the test looks for you know how to adapt to the questions. Why wouldn't you teach to do well on the test, since the test covers the curriculum for the year. And if you're not teaching to the test, what are you teaching? If you take geometry you would learn very specific concepts relative to geometry. So then why wouldn't it make sense to have a kid be able to pass a test that tests him/her on very specific concepts relative to geometry?

Seven Machos said...

jr --I'm talking specifically about the SAT and other tests that purposefully don't (or did not used to) test what you learn in school. A standardized test that tests specific things that are taught in school is fine with me and, in fact, I applaud it.

Ric and Gabriel -- I call Thomas a racist because he claimed, in this thread, that Jews and East -- East, not any other direction -- Asians are smarter as an ethnic group and blacks are a stupid ethnic group. This statement is by definition racist. You, like Thomas, could argue that it is true. You could argue that racism is based in fact, or that it is good. You cannot argue that the statement itself is not racist.

Further, Gabriel, you call me a denier. Yeah, dude, after 57 posts in a thread where I deny that IQ is legitimate and that intelligence is measurable, it's fair to say that I deny that IQ is legitimate and that intelligence is measurable. What a high IQ you must have to have caught on so fast.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Seven Machos:

This statement is by definition racist

Blacks as an ethnic group are prone to sickle cell. RACIST!

East Asians as an ethnic group are prone to epicanthic folds. RACIST!

Not by any definition normal people use, no.

Further, Gabriel, you call me a denier.

By a denier I mean that you use totally bogus arguments to oppose what you oppose, by analogy with global warming deniers and Holocaust deniers and evolution deniers.

Whether IQ measures intelligence and is heritable, whether evolution by natral selection is real, whether 12 million people were killed at Hitler's orders, whether man-made carbon emissions raise global temperatures--these are empirical statements which stand or fall on evidence.

You deny, not the conclusion, but the evidence itself, unjustifiably. You pretend that statistics don't mean anything and pay no attention to, say, MRI studies of brain structure in twins and its correlation with g.

That makes you a denier, a crackpot. It doesn not make you a reasonable person with a justifiable reason to disagree.

What IQ means exactly is not a closed question, there is a lot of research on it and experts don't agree on what it all means, but you pretend the experts don't exist and lie about what they are doing. That makes you a denier. Not that you don't accept the conclusion, but that you make bogus objections to the evidence. Same as a creationist who says that evolution can't be true because no one ever saw an animal half-dog and half-cat.

Seven Machos said...

Good God, what twaddle. I could write on and on, but I'll just pick this out:

experts don't agree on what it all means, but you pretend the experts don't exist and lie about what they are doing

Experts? Really? Like phrenology experts? Like psychic experts? Like out-of-body experience experts? Like Jesus ghost haunting Rome experts?

Yeah, dude. These unnamed experts. They know. Whatever they say, it must be true.

ken in sc said...

Seven Machos, if what you say is true about your students' improving their scores, I applaud and respect you. The Portfolios, Folders, International Baccalaureates, and other nonsensical things were dreamed up by education professors but crammed down our throats by administrators. My students' scores were also higher than any others in my school, and above average for my district. I was not rewarded, but was instead criticized. I changed districts and retired from there a few years later.

veni vidi vici said...

In elementary school when I was a kid, stuff like "citizenship" was graded separately from the "hard" subjects but then, that was Canada in the 70's/80's, and this is the academic shithole that comprises American public education today.

The idea that someone's mathematics or science (or even English) grade would contain any but the slightest bit of off-test subjectivity is inconceivable to me. What the hell are schoolteachers doing?

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