Does IQ Measure Literacy?

In Paper Mark Kurlansky said something that surprised me: “IQ measures literacy, not intelligence.” (View more about this book on Goodreads; I also recommend Salt and Cod by the same author.)

Once I thought about this more, it rang true. If you can read well, you can typically test well, especially if the standardized test is geared toward that particular skill. In fact, it’s a strong bias toward literacy as intelligence, without regard for other types of learning and communication.

Sara Wachter-Bettcher mentions this same issue in her essential “Design for Real Life” talk about standardized testing bias in North America.

What that does is it assumes in their testing process that “a ‘good’ question is one that students who score well overall tend to answer correctly, and vice versa.”

So what that means is that if a student who scores well on the current SAT, in the current system with the current disparities, if they tend to do well on this other question, then it’s a good question, and if they don’t, then it’s bad.

What does this mean for text-only interfaces, or help documentation as paragraphs or blog posts? Something to keep in mind when creating products and software because often we required lots of reading to get the job done.

Photo from Pexels.

Author: Lance Willett

My name is Lance, I am a blogger and web craftsman making high-quality, engaging, and user-centered experiences for people that use WordPress. México-born. Excellence Wrangler at Automattic.

2 thoughts on “Does IQ Measure Literacy?”

  1. Much earlier in my life, I took several tests to measure IQ. I am thirty-five years older now and I sincerely doubt I would score as well even though I achieved a post-secondary degree since the testing was done. My mathematical skills are virtually gone and my memory is certainly not what it once was. Having studied standardized testing, I know that my skills in other areas have improved but my testing ability has declined. Under the current means of measurement, my IQ is much lower. I’m not concerned with the score that I may achieve but about the placement of students in our educational system based on standardized testing. I don’t have an answer for the problem but there must be a better system.

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