Intelligence Issues in Children

Our society is captivated by the notion of intelligence and measuring intelligence levels. What does this measurement indicate? For the past hundred years intelligence has been measured by tests. A person's performance on those tests would indicate their intelligence quotient, or IQ score. IQ scores are normally thought of as being an indication of a child's ability and potential and also a possible indicator of how that child will perform in the future, in school or workforce. However, IQ scores have been used in research to see if there is any correlation between the scores and a person's affluence, longevity, health, and behavior. If there is a link between these scores and all the above characteristics, then is there anything that we can do to influence the scores? Some feel IQ scores are primarily genetic. Some feel that a child's environment can positively or negatively influence IQ scores. There are even studies that show that high levels of fluoride in drinking water caused a decline in IQ scores in children. A lot of time and energy has been spent on trying to find out how much of an impact intelligence has on our lives. Are we any closer to finding out the validity of IQ scores and how much of a role they play in determining a person's success? There is much debate over this issue, and compelling arguments for and against IQ testing. Parents and teachers can use this information to determine their viewpoint on how they will use the IQ scores to benefit their education. Many researchers question the benefits of IQ testing on children. Is this something that a parent should want for their child? Will it help the child's future? How can a teacher use this information in the classroom? The IQ test, sometimes referred to as the norm-referenced, is very stable and shows how the intelligence of a child is important to their learning process. IQ scores can help place the child in the appropriate learning center, whether the child needs to be placed in a special education classroom or an advanced classroom. It would be inappropriate to ask a child to work geometry problems without the proper education and background. A child's IQ scores can show the level at which child is able to perform. If a child's IQ scores are within the lower percentile, then it is logical that the child should be placed in a classroom that moves at a slower speed so that the child's learning style can be taken into account. The converse is true for a child who has a high IQ score. Even when taken repeatedly, IQ scores tend to be consistent, making it easier to predict what the child's IQ will be later in their life though the older the child (Bee, 2000). It really can fairly predict what accomplishments the parent and the child can expect through their life. Though this test is based on a solid foundation, there are still some questions to whether the IQ test should be considered valid. One thing most psychologists agree on is that there is no relationship between IQ scores and the career choice of a child. An example would be, "while it is clear that successful business executives usually score at least moderately well on the IQ test, the rate at which they advance and their ultimate business achievements are only minimally associated with their specific IQ score" (Feldman, 2000). This means that there is a way to achieve success, with hard work, in the workforce even if you are not placed high on the IQ scale. The test might interfere with the educational plans of children who might think they are not "smart enough" to accomplish more than their IQ allows. Helen Bee explains, " Although these scores do become quite stable in late childhood, individual children can and do shift in response to especially rich or especially impoverished environments, or in response to any stress in their lives" (Bee, 2000). The IQ test really has to be administered later in the child's life after they have had experience in life. This brings about the question of whether performance on IQ tests has to do with the nurturing of a child. Another problem that researchers have discovered about the IQ test is that there is a deviance in scores of people of lower socio-economic classes and underrepresented minority groups. Any test that has " unequal distribution of IQ scores by race, gender, and ethnic origin" or that is not culturally diverse should be considered to have a few flaws (Pyryt, 1996). It is important to have a test that can measure ability within all cultural classes, and the IQ test may be short in this section. The children that fit into this category really don't have the means or resources to score high on the IQ test (Pyryt, 1996). However, this discrepancy has been rebutted with the fact that the children in lower socio-economic classes or minority groups can achieve what their IQ scores predict, with the proper education and self-esteem (Bee, 2000). What the parent has to remember is that the child will have to overcome their environmental obstacles in order to achieve their IQ level. Even though the IQ test has its shortcomings, it is still accepted as a valid way to verify a child's ability and to predict future performance in school and in the workforce. The IQ test has the potential to help students be successful in their individual learning styles. IQ scores help educators and parents place children in classes that will be appropriate for the child's ability level. There is still some question as to whether the IQ tests are flawed because they do not accurately reflect the ability of all cultural and socio-economic groups. However research shows that environment does have an affect on the IQ score, supporting the idea that a child can increase their potential with the proper nurturing environment. IQ tests can be a useful tool. However, parents and educators need to recognize that a child's performance on an IQ test is only an indication of potential and can not predict the child's willingness to succeed or the environmental obstacles that a child must overcome in order to fulfill the indication of their IQ scores. References: Bee, H. (2000). Child and Adolescent Development (9th ed.) [e-text]. Boston, MA: Pearson Custom Publishing. Feldmen, R. (2000). Essentials of Understanding Psychology (4th Ed.). Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts. Pyryt, M. (1996, June). The Bell Curve. Roeper Review, 18 (4), 4.