Tag Archives: Drop out

Education: Socioeconomics vs IQ – The Bell Curve

The second installment of the comparison of socioeconomic status and IQ.  This post examines the impact of each on:

  1. Dropping out of school
  2. Obtaining a GED
  3. Graduating from college

In a previous post, I showed various charts.  Among them is the probability of cropping out of school based on the SES of the family:

The pattern is clear, kids from wealthier families have a better chance of obtaining a high school education.

The came the data showing the probability of a kid, who has dropped out, obtaining a GED:

This is a tale that is counter-intuitive.  We expect the narrative to be that rich kids do better than poor kids.  But this data shows the opposite for folks who obtain a GED after dropping out of school.

Finally we show data that speak to college degrees.  College is, arguably, a key factor to the success of an individual in today’s society.  Maybe.

The data suggests a massive SES impact.  Very few kids from the poorest families are graduating college while nearly 40% of the wealthiest kids are achieving that milestone.

The data is somewhat mixed.  High school and college graduation rates seem highly dependent on the SES of the parents while attainment of a GED is the exact opposite.

Now, what if we add in the predictive value of IQ?

First, dropping out of school:

The first thing that should be apparent is that dropping out of school is rare for kids of either average SES or intelligence.  But dropout rates escalate dramatically for those of below average intelligence.  IQ is more than a 3x predictor than SES of the school dropout.

How does GED look?

The data including IQ doesn’t change the fact that obtaining a GED goes against the commonly held belief that kids from poorer households do worse than the rich kids.  Even accounting for IQ, the folks from the poorer families obtain a GED at higher rates than do kids from wealthier households.

Our last look into education is the college graduation rate:

Again, a dramatic difference.  With one exception; the data shows very little difference between low SES and low IQ.  But when it comes to highly intelligent kids, it doesn’t matter if they come from poorer families or wealthier families; the kids are graduating college at a better than 75% clip.

As with poverty, IQ plays a dominant role in the educational attainment of our children.  All else being equal, the smarter the kid, the better they will achieve educationally.


Third Grade Readers

I recently engaged in a small debate with some friends of mine on Facebook.  The subject is 3rd grade readers and what should be done with those kids who are struggling to read at that age.

Minnesota just passed, or is getting ready to pass, a new law that requires kids who are not reading at grade level by 3rd grade be held back:

The bill would direct school districts and charter schools to develop plans to monitor students’ literacy skills from kindergarten through grade three and inform parents at least twice a year of their child’s reading progress. Struggling students would get extra help such as tutoring, summer school or extended time programs.

It would also limit “social promotion,” or advancing students automatically to the next grade. With certain exceptions, students would only be promoted to the fourth grade if they demonstrate reading proficiency by the end of third grade — but if not, they’d repeat third grade and receive intensive, specialized intervention.

As is my nature [i’m kind’ofa a smartass] and the fact that I used to teach [okay-okay, 1 year] combined with the fact hat I have a rising 3rd grader got me interested.

So I asked what we should do with 3rd graders who can’t read?  In my mind, this is a larger question and should be answered at every grade or measurement period.  That is, if you haven’t mastered the 8th grade, you shouldn’t move on to 9th.  Same with Jr. Social Studies or Algebra I.  But whatever, 3rd grade is the topic so we’ll stick with that.

It turns out that there is a study that shows reading ability at 3rd grade is a strong predictor of graduation.

One in six children who are not reading proficiently in third grade do not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers.

This is powerful stuff.

Now, to be sure, correlation doesn’t imply causation.  It could very well be that the factor that contributes to poor 3rd grade reading is the same factor that contributes to dropping out.  In fact, the study finds poverty is a massive indicatr as well:

Overall, 22 percent of children who have lived in poverty do not graduate from high school, compared to 6 percent of those who have never been poor. This 4 rises to 32 percent for students spending more than half of their childhood in poverty.

Does poverty cause poor reading? Are parents who are poor unable or unwilling to do the needful in order to get their kids to read?  Intelligence in inherited.  Is it possible that folks with lower IQs raise children with lower IQs?

Fascinating questions.  However, schools and administrations, along with states and other governments, are taking this study to heart.  By getting kids at their grade level achievement in reading by the 3rd grade, they feel they are increasing the chances these kids stay in school and graduate.