Debate about genetics and school performance

Jag Bhalla points us to this article, “Differences in exam performance between pupils attending selective and non-selective schools mirror the genetic differences between them,” by Emily Smith-Woolley, Jean-Baptiste Pingault, Saskia Selzam, Kaili Rimfeld, Eva Krapohl, Sophie von Stumm, Kathryn Asbury, Philip Dale, Toby Young, Rebecca Allen, Yulia Kovas, and Robert Plomin, along with this response by Eric Turkheimer.

Smith-Wooley et al. find an association of test scores with genetic variables that are also associated with socioeconomic status, and conclude that “genetic and exam differences between school types are primarily due to the heritable characteristics involved in pupil admission.” From the other direction, Turkheimer says, “if the authors think their data support the hypothesis that socioeconomic educational differences are simply the result of pre-existing genetic differences among the students assigned to different schools, that is their right. But . . . the data they report here do nothing to actually make the case in one direction or the other.”

It’s hard for me to evaluate this debate given my lack of background in genetics (Bhalla shares some thoughts here, but I can’t really evaluate these either), but I thought I’d share it with you.

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