IQ and Development: Testing Too Young?

In light of my post on genetics and environment, check out this article in the New York Magazine by Jennifer Senior (H/T Daily Dish):

The Junior Meritocracy: Should a child’s fate be sealed by an exam he takes at the age of 4? Why kindergarten-admission tests are worthless, at best.

An interesting part from the article:

I wrote to Lohman and asked what percentage of 4-year-olds who scored 130 or above would do so again as 17-year-olds. He answered with a careful regression analysis: about 25 percent.

The implications of this number are pretty startling. They mean that three quarters of the seniors in a gifted program would no longer test into that program if asked to retake an IQ test on graduation day. So I wrote Lohman back: Was he certain about this?

“Yes,” he replied. “Even people who consider themselves well versed in these matters are often surprised to discover how much movement/noise/instability there is even when correlations seem high.” He was careful to note, however, that this doesn’t mean IQ tests have no predictive value per se. After all, these tests are better—far better—at predicting which children will have a 130-plus IQ at 17 than any other procedure we’ve devised. To have some mechanism that can find, during childhood, a quarter of the adults who’ll test so well is, if you think about it, impressive. “The problem,” wrote Lohman, “is assigning kids to schools for the gifted on the basis of a test score at age 4 or 5 and assuming that their rank order among age mates will be constant over time.”

Appelbaum, McCall’s co-author, puts an even finer point on the stakes. “No university I know,” he says, “would think of using a 4-year-old’s data to decide who to admit.”
I encourage you to read the article to help inject some sense into the conversations you hear about IQ and giftedness in your school district.

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3 thoughts on “IQ and Development: Testing Too Young?”

  1. gee whiz,
    attitude and effort,where does that factor along with flexibility and adaptability.of focus...
    bet you could make a good guess,richard..
    i for one would really like to hear a little on attitude and effort,,,the desire to achieve a set known elusive goal

  2. Definitely testing too young--and too narrowly.

    I couldn't say my ABCs at the end of first grade, and was almost held back. By high school, school had become easy, but my only evidence of being bright was an ability to dispatch homework with great speed and get decent grades without studying. I had no idea I was bright till I took an IQ test at the start and end of a logic class my senior year in college and tested in the top percentile (the test was to see what effect the class would have on IQ). The logic prof was a friend of my advisor, and all of a sudden I was an important young man...

    Here's an example of how a gifted kid can slip through the cracks of a test. The language section of the SAT requires knowledge of standard English--or at least it used to. Which is very boring, since it's so arbitrary. I didn't know that. Nor did I know that no one has ever figured out the deep structure of language. So I did what I always do when I took the SAT; I tried to make sense of things on the spot--you know, do what Chomsky and Pinker have tried to do their whole lives--and failed miserably, of course. The exceedingly low language section was enough to take my score down to just good.

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