One thought on “Transforming Education in the Primary Years

  1. Robert

    Although I am not opposed to educational programs that help children, we need to be realistic about what we can expect from a high-quality early education system.

    If we accept that all children are different, it is reasonable to conclude that some children are going to get more from the high-quality early education system than others. How much they get out of this and similar programs depend on their potential; some children have more potential than others. This potential is a function of the intelligence of these children. On average, blacks and whites have IQs of 85 and 100, respectively. Thus, we would expect that the white children would get more from these types of programs. This means that a high-quality early education system will increase the achievement gap.

    Article: “When more than two-thirds of students cannot read at grade level and barely three-quarters are graduating from high school on time, it is time to reevaluate not just how well our schools and teachers are doing but whether the entire system needs an overhaul. That is where we find ourselves today. Reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress are embarrassingly low for all children and abysmal for minorities. Worse still, graduation rates, according to the National Center on Educational Statistics, are hovering around 60% in some states.”
    1. I don’t believe that the article gave any demographic breakdown for the students who are having academic problems. But we can make a reasonable guess based on the academic performances of the different ethnic groups. For example, let’s suppose that an IQ of 80 is needed to graduate from high school. We would then expect that the graduation rates of blacks and whites would be approximately 65% and 91%, respectively.
    2. When we make the classes more challenging to improve the reading and similar measures, we are going to increase the differences in the test scores between the different ethnic groups.
    3. The lack of academic success for some students is not necessarily an indictment against the education system. If the problem was with the schools, we would expect a proportional cross-section of students who are having problems – rich, poor, male, female, black, white etc. But, of course, this is not what we typically see. Likewise, if the schools were the source of the academic problems with all children, we would expect that both high and low IQ students would have educational problems.

    The article states that “But according to the most recent installment of the study, by the end of first grade, the evidence of that positive impact had evaporated. Head Start students were doing no better than non–Head Start students.”
    Comment: This is consistent with the non-environment being a major contributor to the achievement gap.

    Article: “Other preschool programs have produced benefits that last much longer. In fact, the evidence of the effectiveness of high-quality pre-K programs is among the strongest findings in education research.”
    1. These high-quality pre-K programs will not give the desired results.
    2. These types of programs assume that saturating the child with an excellent learning environment coupled with positive feedback will give a permanent increase in the child’s cognitive ability. This is not true.
    3. As the child matures, the positive impact of these types of programs will fade.
    4. The reason for the initial success for the child and the eventual failure are due to the heritability of intelligence.
    a. For very young children, the heritability of intelligence is about 0.20. As the child gets older this increases to 0.80 or more.
    b. To see how this heritability works, let’s take a hypothetical example.
    • A black five year old child who lives in a very non-stimulating environment and who has parents with an average IQ of 75 is enrolled in one of these programs. Based on the heritability of 0.20, we would expect that the child would have an IQ of about 83. However, 80% of the heritability is due to the environment. As the program progresses, the child’s IQ is tested several times. It eventually reaches an IQ of 110 due to the positive influence of the program.
    • As the child becomes an adult, the hereditability of intelligence increases to 0.80. We would now expect that his IQ would be 77. The environmental variance is 0.20; thus, even an exceptionally rewarding academic environment will have little impact on the intelligence.


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