Is it possible to measure intelligence in children?

Your child’s current abilities don’t predict future performance. New research led by Professor Richard Cowan has found that a child’s current abilities in mathematics, English or any other subject has no bearing on success or difficulties during adolescence or adulthood.

The development of intellectual abilities in children is complex and can advance rapidly. For example, the intellectual differences between a five and 10-year-old are much greater than the differences between a 10 and 15-year-old. For these reasons, Professor Cowan compares testing a child’s intellectual ability to having your car inspected. Unlike testing a child’s blood type, which remains constant throughout life, intellectual tests can only provide a good indicator of current performance.

Moreover, testing children too early could have the opposite effects of those desired. Previous studies have shown that premature judgment by teachers or parents has a significant impact on young children’s decision-making and behavior. "Children develop and change at different rates, and according to a variety of factors. It is important to be wary of the pitfalls of labelling a child as either high or low ability based on testing early on in primary school. Presuming individual differences to be stable for the purposes of selection within schooling is dangerous and not a reliable indicator," said Professor Cowan.

The researchers based their conclusion on data and statistics from tests in mathematics, English and general cognitive skills.
Source: Cowan R. Early school testing no indication of success. In British Psychological Society's Developmental Section conference, 3-5 September 2014, Amsterdam

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