Academic journal article Mankind Quarterly

The Interaction between Educational Spending and Intelligence

Academic journal article Mankind Quarterly

The Interaction between Educational Spending and Intelligence

Article excerpt

Extrinsic factors may modify intellectual development to a certain extent but the effects of costly "enrichment" programs for young people have been overstated. The current study evaluated interactions between educational funding and standardized tests, which measure intelligence, of secondary school students. In the United States, a negative correlation was found between dollars spent per students and annual teacher salary and Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores. The percentage of white students positively correlated with SAT scores, whereas the percentage of black and Hispanic students negatively correlated with SAT scores. A racial difference in spending was apparent, but it does not appear that any particular spending measure positively influences intelligence in American students. Outside of the U.S., positive correlations were found between educational spending, total spending (percentage of gross domestic product), spending per student (percentage of GDP per capita) and teacher salary, and Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test scores. Outside the U.S., national intelligence quotients (IQ) also positively correlated with spending; but, similar to the U.S., a significant correlation was observed between percentage of white-Caucasian students and test scores and a negative correlation was found between percentage of non-Caucasian, non-East Asian "other" races and test scores. The magnitude of the correlations between race and PISA tests scores was either equal to or greater than the correlations between spending and PISA scores. The current results suggest that increased spending will not increase cognitive ability across all racial groups.

Key Words: Law of Diminishing Return; Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT); Spending per student; Socio-economic status.

Intelligence has been described as the ability to acquire and apply knowledge. There are various methods of quantifying this ability that ultimately measure brain synaptic efficacy. Intelligence test scores measured in teenagers have predictive value, on the one hand, such as likelihood of success in college and in jobs, and on the other hand likelihood of ending up in poverty and giving birth to illegitimate children (Herrnstein and Murray, 1994). High intelligence, in aggregate, tends to predict academic as well as financial success. Likewise, national intelligence quotient (IQ), more so than work ethic or presence of natural resources, significantly correlates with national wealth (Lynn and Vanhanen, 2002). The mature, developed nation, then, depends on its educated youths, to perpetuate its efficient functioning.

There are a number of studies that have demonstrated racial differences in intelligence. Group differences in skull and brain anatomy have been documented and one functional consequence of the anatomical difference is performance on intelligence tests (Rushton, 1995; Lynn and Vanhanen, 2002). Based on intelligence testing a general ranking of the three main races has emerged, from highest to lowest: East Asians whites > blacks. This ranking has been shown to be consistent, whether comparing groups within a country or between two racially distinct nations. The racial ranking by cognitive ability, especially of non-verbal ability, persists whether the groups are of either low or high social-economic status (NSF, 1994). Thus, the data tend to support a significant biological component of intelligence, which may have developed over time through a process of natural selection (Rushton, 1995).

However, there are those who discount any significant contribution of genes to behaviors, including intelligence, and claim that the primary source of the racial disparity in intelligence is unequal socio-economic status. The overall decreasing academic performance of United States secondary school students parallels the gradual decline of the U.S.'s economic competitiveness. In response, egalitarians attempt to rectify the educational imbalance by using the state to level the playing field to ensure an "equal outcome". …

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