Friday, April 10, 2015

Enjoyment of school is highly heritable

A huge and fascinating article below but it is greatly regrettable that the authors failed to control for an obvious confounder -- IQ.  I reproduce only the abstract below but I have read the whole article and I can see no mention of IQ in it at all.  Yet it seems to me that we have here a clear case of double counting.  It is highly likely that dull kids find school a trial and that smart kids find it a breeze, not only being easy but producing praise from teachers and others.  Many teachers smiled on me in my schooldays.

So are we just measuring IQ below?  Impossible to be certain but highly likely, I think.  I suspect that the authors have simply found that smart kids enjoy school more.  Which is much less surprising than their findings initially appear.  Try alternative explanations for the findings.  I can't think of any.  

With all the data that the authors must have had, it is strange  that IQ was not controlled for. Why did they not?  They DID control for social class, which it is often too politically incorrect to mention, so why not IQ?  Perhaps that was a step too far in what they felt free to mention. 

I have myself had a considerable number of articles published in the academic journal concerned so it vexes me that the current editor has put out an article with such a large and unacknowledged hole in it. There is a layman's version of the article here

Why children differ in motivation to learn: Insights from over 13,000 twins from 6 countries

Yulia Kovasa et al.


Little is known about why people differ in their levels of academic motivation. This study explored the etiology of individual differences in enjoyment and self-perceived ability for several school subjects in nearly 13,000 twins aged 9–16 from 6 countries. The results showed a striking consistency across ages, school subjects, and cultures. Contrary to common belief, enjoyment of learning and children’s perceptions of their competence were no less heritable than cognitive ability. Genetic factors explained approximately 40% of the variance and all of the observed twins’ similarity in academic motivation. Shared environmental factors, such as home or classroom, did not contribute to the twin’s similarity in academic motivation. Environmental influences stemmed entirely from individual specific experiences.


Senators Demand Education Reform

Sen. Grassley wants to keep the federal government out of the classroom

Education is - both traditionally and constitutionally - a local issue. Yet for many years, the federal government through the Department of Education has been bullying states into taking certain actions. For example, the adoption of common standards and testing requirements, in exchange for grants or waivers. As long as these incentives are in place, it is very difficult for states to independently and meaningfully repeal Common Core, as we saw with Indiana’s faux-repeal that was actually just a rebranding of the standards.

This is a problem. States and municipalities need the flexibility to design their own standards, curricula, and tests to meet the needs of local parents, students, and teachers. Fortunately, there are those in the U.S. Senate who recognize this.

Earlier this year, Senator Roberts and Senator Crapo each introduced bills to stop the federal government from incentivizing the states to adopt common education policies. FreedomWorks issued letters of support for both those bills, and while the chances of them passing as independent legislation is slim, they provide a good model for language to be included in any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, in its latest incarnation popularly known as No Child Left Behind.

Last week, Senator Chuck Grassley has authored a letter expressing the same sentiment. This letter demands that any reauthorization of No Child Left Behind include language forbidding the Department of Education from incentivizing states to adopt federal standards. This is essential if we are to return autonomy in education to state governments and kick the feds out of the classroom. Rep. Steve King has authored similar language on the House side.

At this point, the people who will ultimately decide whether to include this language in an appropriations bill are the members of the Subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education in the House and Senate.

We’re going to keep an eye on this and provide any updates necessary to ensure that we get real education reform this year, and no reauthorization of No Child Left Behind without the Grassley/King language included.


Opposition to Common Core a Bipartisan Issue

Common Core education standards are such bad policy that they have done what many thought impossible - brought Democrats and Republicans together.

Last week, two Washington State Senators hosted a legislative meeting to discuss what can be done to remove the standards from Washington schools. Sen. Maralyn Chase, a Democrat, and Sen. Pam Roach, a Republican, were able to put aside their political differences and work together for the sake of protecting the interests of children across the state.

“Someone has to stand up for the kids,” said Roach. “Washington’s constitution specifies that providing for basic education is the Legislature’s top priority. As a parent and grandparent I know ‘providing’ for children means more than money. Providing for education also must be about more than money.”

“Common Core is uniting liberals and conservatives like no issue I have seen,” said Chase.

Part of this pushback is a response the Washington State Supreme Court, which has essentially threatened to hold legislators in contempt over an issue of school funding.

“Lawmakers set the policies that guide how education dollars are spent. Common Core does not make the best use of those dollars,” Roach said.

“Our state fell victim to the ‘testing-industrial complex.’ Now it is up to us to defend the children by withdrawing from Common Core,” said Chase.

The two senators are cosponsors of a bill that would remove Common Core standards from Washington and require the state to return to earlier standards that did not place so much emphasis on standardized testing. While the chances of their bill advancing this year are slim, given Washington’s political climate, the lawmakers are looking forward to 2016 when presidential politics are likely to make Common Core a key issue.

The event included presentations from educators, activists, education policy experts, and was moderated by Dora Taylor, of the League of Women Voters Education Committee.


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