The usage of IQ tests
IQ tests have been used in many ways throughout human history. There’s the good, the bad, and the really ugly. Much of the lattermost have been discussed in A History of IQ Testing, so, in this article, we’ll be focusing more on the former two that are currently encompassed in contemporary times, though the ‘bad’ of today can often be said to be more questionable than downright wrong. But let us first go through the general usage of IQ tests.
How are IQ Tests Used Today?
Unsurprisingly, IQ tests are often used in education systems to help identify two specific groups of children: the ‘gifted’ and those that may face difficulties in learning. When identified, the former group is likely streamlined into a special education program to facilitate faster and deeper learning, whereas the latter are often given special attention and support.
Many organizations also incorporate the use of IQ tests in their employment processes, or at least some form of adaptation of said tests. These tests are used to evaluate potential job applicants, and act as indicators—not so much of intelligence per se, but—of the applicant’s likely job performance.
Lastly, researchers across the fields of both social and hard sciences also tend to employ the usage of IQ tests in analyzing certain genetic, socio-economic, academic, or racial matters. The identification of intelligence levels in this field have been argued to be helpful in pinpointing structural inequalities that affect the development of children.
In that regard, the highlighting of such inequalities can help authorities in charge of education and social policy to focus their attention where it’s most needed. It also helps in the development of specific solutions that are intentionally designed to help those affected by said inequalities, while being a good measurement of how effective or impactful said solutions really are in the long run.
A lot of the nuanced implications which result from the various uses of IQ tests have one theme in common—the inherent ‘marking’ of an individual that is questionable in its accuracy
The resultant labeling that happens whenever IQ tests are administered can be intentional or unintentional, though the motives are relatively inconsequential when compared to the complex implications that it inherently brings
For example, the African and Hispanic Americans, as well as students from low-income families, are often overlooked and underrepresented in the gifted educational programs in the United States. This is because the IQ test is not rigid enough in its execution as to avoid external influence.
As admission procedures for gifted programs are limited, it is often based on the observations and referrals of teachers, who may or may not have observed what they observed and referred who they referred in an unbiased manner; whether the biasness stems from conscious thought or internalized preconceptions doesn’t matter in this regard, the results are what they are.
This problem is not unique to the education sector, and plagues the use of IQ test in every situation, on every layer it is used.
But it’s also important to note that IQ tests are far from ‘evil’ in nature, and the continued usage of it in spite of the mentioned implications are testaments to its usefulness and value.
The question thus should not be whether or not IQ tests should continue to be used, but more so how it can be improved upon for its accuracy, and how we should best limit its influence on institutional decisions by keeping its flaws clearly in mind.
If you’re interested in finding out more about IQ tests, you can read up on The Types of IQ Tests, or The Quality of IQ Tests. Alternatively, you can also click here for a full list of related topics.