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Testing for Intelligence?

Assessment of IQ is a tricky subject because there are two ways of looking at it. If we, the U.S. are committed to “the whole child” then, IQ is really irrelevant. If we truly care about every aspect of a child, not just intelligence then why test for intelligence. Children should be healthy and part of being healthy is feeling good about who they are. When a child is tested early and does not perform well on an IQ test for whatever the reason, e.g., they come from a different culture, language barriers, test anxiety, can suffer damage to their self esteem and not ever do good in school and/or life. Also, if a child is tested at a young age and if found to be below average, less will be expected of them. But, what if their intelligence changes? What if, when they grow and mature they are found to actually be of above average intelligence? The brain is an amazing organ and plasticity is a phenomenon where the brain compensates for deficits and is the lifelong ability of the brain to reorganize neural pathways based on new experiences.


On the other end of this debate is being able to teach children on their level so they are enriched and not grow bored with their education. If a child is not being challenged there is a chance he/she will begin to act out and not take their education seriously. The problem is, intelligence tests can be culturally biased and only produce a single number that may or may not truly represent that person’s true ability to learn.


The education system in Germany is different than the U.S. They have different levels of education based on the student’s performance in the first four years of school (ages 6 to 10), which is elementary, or Grundschule, what they want to do as an adult and the parent’s wishes of schools they want their child to attend. After the first four years, the child is tested and based on their test scores; they may or may not be allowed to attend the school of their choice. Next, they will either attend Hauptschule (job training schools which go to 9th or 10th grade), Realschule (go through 10th grade and learn a skill or can go to college for limited subjects e.g. as nurses, social workers, technicians, mid-level supervisors and managers.), Gymnasium (prepares them for university) or Gesamtschule (a comprehensive school and after 11th grade can transfer to a Gymnasium).


I had friends that were German citzens who lived in the U.S. and their children began their education in the U.S. but when they moved back to Germany their youngest child had to repeat first grade and the older child who started the fifth grade was only allowed to attend a Gymnasium on a contingency that she be retested yearly to continue her education there or have to move to either a Hauptschule or Realschule. Their reasoning was because the U.S. education system is not as superior as German education system. 


Comments on: "Testing for Intelligence?" (3)

  1. Chasity Rickards said:

    I think it is very interesting that Germany doesn’t think that the U.S. education system is inferior to the German education system. I think that it is unfortunate for a country with the history that America has to be viewed as inferior when it comes to education, because educating our children will determine our future.

    • Chasity,

      I agree with you. I heard on a television today that the NFL can spend 100 million dollars on research for football but our education system just keeps getting worse and worse! We need to invest in our future not in sports.

  2. Your research on Germany was very intriguing. I was actually just talking to one of the teachers I work with about schooling in Germany the other day, and she was describing the different schools children can go to after elementary school. Did you find out how they test children’s knowledge in order to decide their placement?

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