When US Students Perform Poorly on a Test, The Most Obvious Explanation is What? Also, Exploring Latino Intelligence…

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Before I make my point, let me first provide some context:

Today, CNN reported:

“Test results released in June showed that fewer than one quarter of all students are ‘proficient’ in American history.

Many of the fourth grade students asked about Lincoln on the tests could identify him, but few could say why he was an important president.

At the memorial in Washington, students who saw the president’s image on a postcard identified the tall, bearded man as Lincoln. When asked why the 16th president was important, some answers were spot-on, some were entertaining — and some were disheartening. 

One student said he was important because he had a beard.

Another said he was killed at a puppet show.

Their answers aren’t surprising.

The Nation’s Report Card: U.S. History 2010,’ the tests results report by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, showed 20% of fourth graders, 17% of eighth graders and 12% of 12th graders showed ‘solid academic performance’ on the tests.”

So, fewer than 20% of American students are proficient in US history. That’s pretty darn low.

My question for you is this:

What do you think the most obvious explanation for such a low proficiency rate is?

I think the most obvious explanation is this:  American students aren’t particularly bright.

I realize it can be difficult to be objective when viewing the results of fellow Americans.  You don’t want to believe American students aren’t particularly bright.  Right?  Of course not.

But if America is going to regain its former glory, it needs to be honest with itself!  American isn’t likely to be able to correct a problem that it doesn’t identify!

So, again, I think the most obvious explanation for the low history scores is this:  American students aren’t particularly bright.

After all, if you viewed a stranger’s results, and those results were very poor, wouldn’t your most likely explanation be something like:  “He/she probably isn’t that bright”.

There are other potential factors that influence poor results, and there may even be better explanations, but my point is simply this:

Wouldn’t low intelligence be the most obvious explanation one would come up with?

Now, compare my explanation with the explanation actually provided by “educators and reformers” (Note that CNN doesn’t provide any quotes or names):

“Educators and reformers have several explanations for the low scores, including apathetic and disinterested students, poor teaching or problems with standardized testing. Some said that math, science and English get higher priority in schools because those subjects are tested under No Child Left Behind.”

Apathetic students?  Poor teaching?  Problems with standardized testing? Policy problems?

C’mon now!  Sure, some of these factors could be relevant, but the most obvious explanation, and perhaps the biggest factor influencing the low history scores, has been left out:  Low intelligence!

Will another several decades pass by before someone admits, and attempts to correct, the obvious?  And what state will America be in by then?

Why I Know (Not Think) Americans Students Have Lower Than Average Intelligence

I don’t think that American students have always had lower than average intelligence (relative to other students from other countries).  In fact, given that America’s academic system used to rate quite highly, I believe American students used to be more intelligent than students from most other countries!

But almost fifty years of immigration (both legal and illegal) from low IQ countries has changed that.

Of course, the biggest demographic change during that period has been the rapid rise increase in the proportion of the population that is Latino.

So, in light of the history results, I ask this:  Do Latinos score lower on IQ tests?


But before I get to the IQ research, let’s confirm that Latinos are indeed lowering the overall US history proficiency scores.  Looking at the full report, and not just the summary, it shows that:

Grade four whites scored 224, Hispanics scored 198.
Grade eight whites scored 274, Hispanics scored 252.
Grade twelve whites scored 296, Hispanics scored 275.

IQ Research

Time for the IQ research.

As far back as 1994 (although racial gaps had already been established for decades), dozens of professors specializing in intelligence took out a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal, in order to sign a statement summarizing science’s findings.  The full statement is here.

The motivation to place the ad was influenced by the desire to set the record straight and support the findings of The Bell Curve.

Here are some of the findings:

“The bell curve for whites is centered roughly around IQ 100; the bell curve for American blacks roughly around 85; and those for different subgroups of Hispanics roughly midway between those for whites and blacks. The evidence is less definitive for exactly where above IQ 100 the bell curves for Jews and Asians are centered”

So, Hispanics, the group that has moved en masse into America in recent decades, have an average IQ somewhere between 85 and 100.

But where exactly?

Well, The Bell Curve, on page 275 (looking at my own copy of the book), after stating that Latinos can be hard to define, states:

“With that in mind, it may be said that their test results generally fall about half to one standard deviation below the national mean.  In the NLSY, the disparity with whites was 0.93 standard deviation).”

One standard deviation is 15 points.  The Bell Curve’s own figures show a white IQ of 101 to 102 (on page 273, The Bell Curve estimates the American white IQ as being 101 to 102.  The professors who took out the ad used a figure of 100, but that referred to all whites, not solely American whites.  This would mean, of course, that American whites are slightly more intelligent than other whites).

Given the Latino figures, it would equal an average Latino IQ being between 86.5 and 94.

Now I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will:  These findings don’t mean that all Latinos have low IQs.  It just means that the average Latino does.

Even though there is an average difference, people shouldn’t look down on Latinos.  Do intelligent whites look down on less intelligent whites?  From my experience, the vast majority do not.  Do asians look down on whites because asians have higher IQs?  I doubt it.  After all, why wouldn’t people from different nations tend to have different IQs?

What The Average Latino IQ Tells You About US Students

Back to the main point of my article.  Again, one factor, if not the most important factor, causing the low history scores of American students is the fact that a large proportion of the students are of a Latino (and black) background, groups that score lower than whites and Asians in IQ.

Given that the IQ research has been settled for many years, why is it that CNN’s article doesn’t mention that an obvious cause of the low test scores is IQ related?  Is CNN helping or hurting the academic problem?


But What About Nature Versus Nurture?

If the white-Latino IQ gap was entirely due to environmental factors, then the conversation would change, although not much.

Why?  If the gap was entirely due to Latinos being in a worse environment, the fact is that the end result is the same, no matter the cause:  Immigrants from Latino countries are changing the population demographics, resulting in the academic success of Americans having been severely weakened.

Whether the low academic scores are caused by genes or environment, the truth remains that, for whatever reason, Latinos score lower in IQ, and hence perform poorly academically.

But again, that’s just a hypothetical situation.

What’s the actual situation?  It turns out that most of the IQ gap is caused by genetics.  The professors cited above agree:

“14. Individuals differ in intelligence due to differences in both their environments and genetic heritage. Heritability estimates range from 0.4 to 0.8 (on a scale from 0 to 1), most thereby indicating that genetics plays a bigger role than does environment in creating IQ differences among individuals. (Heritability is the squared correlation of phenotype with genotype.) If all environments were to become equal for everyone, heritability would rise to 100% because all remaining differences in IQ would necessarily be genetic in origin.”

“21. The reasons that blacks differ among themselves in intelligence appear to be basically the same as those for why whites (or Asians or Hispanics) differ among themselves. Both environment and genetic heredity are involved.”

So, about 60% of the white-Latino IQ gap is due to genetics.


And Why Didn’t CNN’s Educators And Reformers Think Of This?

Here’s an “a-ha” moment for you:

Did anyone ever think that perhaps part of the white-Latino IQ gap could be explained by the fact that a greater percentage of Latinos are immigrants, and hence perhaps less likely then the native born to be interested in US history?  (In contrast, one might claim that newcomers might be more interested in studying US history than native born are, given immigrant desire to understand their new surroundings.  After all, isn’t novelty supposed to be one of the most influential factors affecting behavior?)

Going Forward

Given the genetic nature of IQ differences, there is a solution for improving the dreadful academic performance of US history students:

Change immigration policy so that immigrants with higher IQs are selected!  This means the US would have to avoid immigration from Latino countries.

However, if the US is committed to increasing the Latino population and willing to implement costly IQ testing, the US could select high IQ immigrants from all countries, including Latino countries.

Hopefully the US will do something soon, because once these students grow up and enter the workforce, the US will certainly continue to decline for years.

Disturbingly, the twelfth grade students performed much worse than did the grade four and grade eight students.  20% of fourth graders are proficient, versus 17% of eight graders and 12% of twelfth graders.  This is disturbing because the grade twelve students are the ones that are closest to entering college and the workforce!

Going forward, keep in mind one point made in the CNN article:

“All of these students will be voters… and almost 40% were already eligible to vote when they took the assessment,” Ravitch said in a statement released after the results of the study were published. “They will be making decisions in the voting booth that influence our lives. They should be well informed and capable of weighing the contending claims of candidates, especially when the candidates rest their arguments on historical precedent.”

(Yes, and as my previous Bukisa article shows, teachers will even begin to falsely inflate the low student grades).

When it comes to the academic and economic prospects of America, the most bleak warning of all is this one, from Yahoo! News:

“For the first time, more than half of the children under age 2 in the U.S. are minorities, part of a sweeping race change and a growing age divide between mostly white, older Americans and fast-growing younger ethnic populations that could reshape government policies.”

Could reshape government policies?  But will the US government’s immigration policy be reshaped, to prioritize the selection of more intelligent immigrants?

Or will America continue its slide toward becoming a less intelligent, poor nation?


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