Are School IQ Tests Accurate?

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Throughout the years, your child’s school will likely administer an intelligence quotient, or IQ, test. In theory, this will tell you whether your child has a chance at getting into an Ivy League school, but the reality is a lot more complex. Intelligence isn’t something that can always be measured by a test.


How An IQ Test Works

An IQ test examines your child’s cognitive abilities and capacity for intelligence. The questions test problem solving abilities and ability to learn rather than testing acquired knowledge. For example, the test might show a sequence of items and ask your child which one comes next. The testing company will then compare your child’s results with those of other children in the school, state and country.

IQ Tests in Your School

Schools typically use IQ tests to determine which students should participate in the gifted and talented programs. Some schools rely heavily on the results of the test, while others take a more holistic approach, using the tests, academic performance and other indicators as the child’s teacher sees fit.

Interpreting IQ Tests

When you get your child’s IQ test results, there may or may not be a number that represents the IQ. You will be able to see how your child performs with regard to other students in the country. If your child is in the 85th percentile, it means that she performed better than 85 percent of the students in the country.

What Affects IQ

Several factors play into IQ and this can affect the score that your child receives on the test. Students will score higher the longer they attend school and may score lower if they miss a lot of school, reports Stephen Ceci in Psychology Today (2001). Additionally, the students who are the youngest in their class may not fare as well as older students, suggesting that age is a factor. Furthermore, diet may influence IQ. Ceci reports that in a study representing 1 million students, there was a 14 percent increase in IQ test scores after removing preservatives, dyes and artificial colors and flavorings from the lunch menu. All of these factors along with heredity, environment and ecology can influence IQ scores.

Multiple Intelligences

IQ test base results on cognitive abilities and problem solving skills. Those who excel in these areas will have higher scores than those who don’t. However, there are types of intelligences, such as musical intelligence or social intelligence. Your child may not do well on her IQ test, but she may do quite well when it comes to interacting with others. A low IQ score doesn’t mean that she’s not intelligent.

Criticism

Critics of IQ tests suggest that the test is biased towards Caucasian students and those with higher socioeconomic backgrounds. They claim that the scores cannot measure true intelligence.

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