Too Much Emphasis on Tests?

The educational system in the US uses several standard tests
to measure the needs of the kids in the system. One of which is the IQ test. IQ
stands for Intelligence Quotient (Really a German version of that), but it isn’t
a quotient any longer. That part is now normalized over a bell curve with an
average score being 100.

The IQ test tries to gauge short-term memory, verbal
knowledge, spatial visualization, and perceptual speed. To do so, most
administrator use something called WAIS – III to test seven verbal
(Information, Comprehension, Arithmetic, Similarities, Vocabulary, Digit Span,
and Letter-Number Sequencing) and seven performance (Digit Symbol-Coding,
Picture Completion, Block Design, Matrix Reasoning, Picture Arrangement, Symbol
Search, and Object Assembly) subsets of the previous list.

I am not a proponent of a one size fits all testing measure.
As I’ve written in other posts, I am much more interested in accomplishments.
You don’t need to be smart to succeed. And smart people don’t always achieve anything

But this brings me to a New Yorker article written by one of
my favorite writers – Malcolm Gladwell. It is titled None of the Above: What I.Q. doesn’t tell you about race. I don’t want to key in on the race angle of
the article since it does a nice job of that.

What interests me is that IQ score are going up very
quickly. If you’ve listened to the media, you’d never hypothesize that. But
Gladwell does a great job explaining that isn’t necessarily the population
getting more intelligent, but rather the population is getting more conceptual
in its problem solving. What is great about that revelation is that it
indicates the population is getting more capable of looking beyond the now. Perception
is becoming more holistic. Books like Flatland by Edwin Abbott are easier to accept by the general population today than they were when they written. As Gladwell points out, it doesn’t mean that the
people of the 1920s were intelligently inferior, but rather they were more
focused on thinking tactically.

Finally, the part I really like about the article is the
ultimate point of the disproval of the genetic prescribed results of IQ – that
even though Asian Americans scored what was originally thought to be higher
than their European American counterparts their success wasn’t questioned. But
once data showed that their scores were really lower than their European
American counterparts their success becomes more remarkable. But as Gladwell
points out, it isn’t IQ that makes you successful, but rather being successful
gives you the capability to have a high IQ.

So what is more important: scoring high on a test or
achieving something?


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