Genes are key to academic success

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Parents always worry about whether their children will do well in school, but their kids probably were born with much of what they will need to succeed. A new study published in npj Science of Learning by researchers from The University of Texas at Austin and King's College London explains the substantial influence genes have on academic success, from the start of elementary school to the last day of high school.

For many years, research has linked educational achievement to life trajectories, such as occupational status, health or happiness. But if performing well in school predicts better life outcomes, what predicts how well someone will do throughout school?

"Around two-thirds of individual differences in school achievement are explained by differences in children's DNA," said Margherita Malanchini, a psychology postdoctoral fellow at the Population Research Center at UT Austin. "But less is known about how these factors contribute to an individual's academic success overtime."

Malanchini and Kaili Rimfeld, a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King's College London, analyzed test scores from primary through the end of compulsory education of more than 6,000 pairs of twins.

Researchers found educational achievement to be highly stable throughout schooling, meaning that most students who started off well in primary school continued to do well until graduation. Genetic factors explained about 70 percent of this stability, while the twins shared environment contributed to about 25 percent, and their nonshared environment, such as different friends or teachers, contributed to the remaining 5 percent.

That's not to say that an individual was simply born smart, researchers explained. Even after accounting for intelligence, genes still explained about 60 percent of the continuity of academic achievement.

"Academic achievement is driven by a range of cognitive and noncognitive traits," Malanchini said. "Previously, studies have linked it to personality, behavioral problems, motivation, health and many other factors that are partly heritable."

However, at times grades did change, such as a drop in grades between primary and secondary school. Those changes, researchers said, can be explained largely by nonshared environmental factors.

"Our findings should provide additional motivation to identify children in need of interventions as early as possible, as the problems are likely to remain throughout the school years," said Rimfeld.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-09-genes-key-academic-success.html#jCp

Abstract

Little is known about the etiology of developmental change and continuity in educational achievement. Here, we study achievement from primary school to the end of compulsory education for 6000 twin pairs in the UK-representative Twins Early Development Study sample. Results showed that educational achievement is highly heritable across school years and across subjects studied at school (twin heritability ~60%; SNP heritability ~30%); achievement is highly stable (phenotypic correlations ~0.70 from ages 7 to 16). Twin analyses, applying simplex and common pathway models, showed that genetic factors accounted for most of this stability (70%), even after controlling for intelligence (60%). Shared environmental factors also contributed to the stability, while change was mostly accounted for by individual-specific environmental factors. Polygenic scores, derived from a genome-wide association analysis of adult years of education, also showed stable effects on school achievement. We conclude that the remarkable stability of achievement is largely driven genetically even after accounting for intelligence.


https://www.nature.com/articles/s41539-018-0030-0
 
Abstract

Little is known about the etiology of developmental change and continuity in educational achievement. Here, we study achievement from primary school to the end of compulsory education for 6000 twin pairs in the UK-representative Twins Early Development Study sample. Results showed that educational achievement is highly heritable across school years and across subjects studied at school (twin heritability ~60%; SNP heritability ~30%); achievement is highly stable (phenotypic correlations ~0.70 from ages 7 to 16). Twin analyses, applying simplex and common pathway models, showed that genetic factors accounted for most of this stability (70%), even after controlling for intelligence (60%). Shared environmental factors also contributed to the stability, while change was mostly accounted for by individual-specific environmental factors. Polygenic scores, derived from a genome-wide association analysis of adult years of education, also showed stable effects on school achievement. We conclude that the remarkable stability of achievement is largely driven genetically even after accounting for intelligence.


https://www.nature.com/articles/s41539-018-0030-0

I've always thought that, and even more strongly once my children were born and I was exposed to lots of children of a similar age.

The problem is that I doubt early intervention with lower performing children does much good. Some children are just not university material, will never be physicists, and torturing them forever will not change that.

If society wants all brilliant children, they're going to have to mess with the genetic material.
 
Geneplaza actually has a feature where you upload your e.g. 23andme kit and they give you your position on genetic intelligence and educational attainment on a bell curve (here's mine):

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If society wants all brilliant children, they're going to have to mess with the genetic material.

So, for the record, are you all for compassionate eugenics? As I've said before, the tarnishing of eugenics by Nazi war crimes is probably going to be the greatest cause of needless suffering in human history.
 
People who are smart have academic success. Genes affect the mind of a person. Therefore, we can say that academic success depends on genes.
 
I think these are normal results, as well.

I believe meritocratic-capitalist societies are optimal environments for people who have genetically advantageous traits. This study helps to verify that belief. Because it provides individuals the platform to exploit those traits to their advantage, for great incentives.
 
You could have the greatest genes in the world. If you are not willing to put in the work, you will hit the wall at some point. Intelligence will only take you so far.
 
I think these are normal results, as well.

I believe meritocratic-capitalist societies are optimal environments for people who have genetically advantageous traits. This study helps to verify that belief. Because it provides individuals the platform to exploit those traits to their advantage, for great incentives.

Completely agree.

To BigSnake's point, yes, you do have to apply yourself as well, but it's just not as MUCH work. It already shows up in high school students. What takes some students an hour or hour and a half to master takes others four hours to master.

I also think that to some degree conscientiousness and a propensity for hard work are heritable.

It's not "fair", but nature isn't fair.

Torturing low performing students by hours of after school drilling is not the answer.
 
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really arguable. what are the good genes in your opinion? in terms of iq it really might have an effect. still, people who study social studies, economics or law could be complete failures in natural sciences and yet be extremely successfull.

in many other traits it certainly isn't true.

you often just need to exceed in one field and you can be successfull today.
 
You're not going to get a law degree with a low IQ. I think I remember a mean of about 117, with doctors having a mean of about 120. Engineers and accountants are around there too. Craftsmen might have a mean of around 100 to 105.

Not saying your verbal scores might not be better than your math/visual scores, but the combined total has to be over a certain level.

Then, there are a lot of other factors that go into where you eventually land in terms of profession.

An immigrant from a country where higher education is out of the question is going to land in a trade or something, raising the median scores for those professions.
 
You're not going to get a law degree with a low IQ. I think I remember a mean of about 117, with doctors having a mean of about 120. Engineers and accountants are around there too. Craftsmen might have a mean of around 100 to 105.

Not saying your verbal scores might not be better than your math/visual scores, but the combined total has to be over a certain level.

Then, there are a lot of other factors that go into where you eventually land in terms of profession.

An immigrant from a country where higher education is out of the question is going to land in a trade or something, raising the median scores for those professions.

couldn't find the number for lawyers. only that the average for college graduates is 110 to 115. to get to university you first have to go through high school or how it's called in english. so there you already have a selection. the iq's of most people leaving there are probably in the range of 100-120. maybe even 110-120. which is not that high. it's better than average. but there are lots of people with that iq range who do not follow an academic career and end up less successfull.

and iq is still something that gets influenced a lot by the environment

and as you said there are other factors that determine where you land.
 
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couldn't find the number for lawyers. only that the average for college graduates is 110 to 115. to get to university you first have to go through high school or how it's called in english. so there you already have a selection. the iq's of most people leaving there are probably in the range of 100-120. maybe even 110-120. which is not that high. it's better than average. but there are lots of people with that iq range who do not follow an academic career and end up less successfull.

and iq is still something that gets influenced a lot by the environment

and as you said there are other factors that determine where you land.

I know many lawyers, and they are all extremely intelligent and successful people that graduated from top-tier institutions. It would be laughable to suggest a person of average intelligence can do the rigorous work, and have the commitment they do.

Evolution is driven partly by environmental factors. Thus, the result on genetics is still very salient.
 
People have been fed a bunch of nonsense about IQ and achievement for decades.

They forgot that what is and should be guaranteed is equality of opportunity, not equality of result. I don't care how much you drill certain kids, they're just not going to be able to get into law school or graduate once they get in. It takes a certain IQ, and even good ability in certain subsets of IQ, like logical thinking.

No, an IQ of between 110-120 is not spectacularly high, but that's a mean. Some people can only get into very sub par law schools. Others get into NYU or Yale. Even so, this is the percentile distribution for IQ.

Only 16% of the population scores 115+ on IQ tests.
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People with IQs of 130+ are extremely rare.


What it should do is not lead people to oppress others, but to have more sympathy, and to cut people more of a break.

The MEAN for lawyers is around 120, same as for doctors. The 10% who have low scores must be really old. There's no way you could get in nowadays unless it was through affirmative action.

See:
https://pieceofmind.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/iq-range-occupations1.jpg
 
We hired a Ph.D. from MIT. He was the laziest, non-productive employ we ever had. Fired him after 6 mos. Never understood why we waited so long.
 
Maybe he was bored.

My brother is an MIT post graduate, a mechanical engineer and a mathematician, with an IQ over 130.

You might think he was doing nothing if you saw him at work. All that's on his desk is a pad, a pencil, and a computer.

I asked him what he actually does. He said: think. :)

There were Nobel contenders in his division. I don't think they're unproductive.

That said, laziness is a separate trait. There are lazy people everywhere and at all levels. I had to go to Motor Vehicles today. Maybe bureaucrats are the laziest, because they can be.
 
We hired a Ph.D. from MIT. He was the laziest, non-productive employ we ever had. Fired him after 6 mos. Never understood why we waited so long.

This is odd....when you say we ....you mean which institution?


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We hired a Ph.D. from MIT. He was the laziest, non-productive employ we ever had. Fired him after 6 mos. Never understood why we waited so long.
I knew someone in youth that was abysmally terrible at his job working as a clerk in a store. However, he grew up to be a successful banker. Sometimes smart people struggle in jobs that disinterest them.
 
My maternal grandfather had an IQ of 136, and he was a banker. My paternal grandfather was an honor roll student at Tilden Technical High in Chicago in the mid 40s. I have an IQ of 125, and also have Asperger's.
 

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