January 18, 2018

School Quality as a Cause of Racial IQ Gaps

One environmental factor regularly brought up regarding racial IQ gaps is that some races go to “good schools” more often than others, and other races go to “bad schools” more often than others, and this would be one of the many explanations for racial IQ gaps. There are 4 reasons to believe that school quality has zero impact on racial gaps:

  1. The results of voucher studies
  2. The black-white IQ gap already exists BEFORE school
  3. Early intervention programs (“super school”) produce, at most, 2 IQ points, and these are radical, professional interventions that no normal family or school actually does in reality.
  4. Voucher Studies make the idea of “good schools” and “bad schools” dubious

A natural experiment on school quality exists in the form of voucher programs. In these programs, more students apply for the voucher than get them, and so the programs must pick and choose who gets the vouchers.

First they decided who was eligible based on whatever factors each program chose. Then, of the eligible students, they randomly selected those who got the vouchers.

And then the students who applied for vouchers and got them, and those who applied for vouchers and did NOT get them, were tracked. These were the Milwaukee Program, the Cleveland Program and the Washington DC Program

Milwaukee Program

Grade / Subject Voucher 06 Non-Voucher 06 Voucher 10 Non-Voucher 10
7 – Reading 432.2 435.3 492.2 485.4
8 – Reading 446.5 436.9 505.1 486.1
10 – Reading 458 472.9 493.5 492
7 – Math 388.2 395.7 501.6 500
8 – Math 426.3 424.4 504.2 493.3
10 – Math 462.9 478.7 515.5 524.2

Cleveland Program

Grade Voucher No Voucher Non-Applicant
1 555 546 548
2 587 577 580
3 615 605 607
4 632 620 624
5 643 636 636
6 654 639 638

Washington DC Program (voucher given at beginning of HS, tested at the end)

Math Reading
Voucher 641 645.92
Applicant 643.36 645.24

These 3 programs show that the variation in school quality – if such variation even exists – between the schools voucher students chose and voucher applicants who didn’t get vouchers were stuck in, appears to have very little effect. Only the Cleveland program shows a consistent effect. However, the Milwaukee program also showed a positive effect from vouchers at that low grade.

The black-white IQ gap exists BEFORE school

The black-white IQ gap is fully formed by age 3. Jason Malloy of Humanvarieties.org looked at 48 studies, the earliest in 1939 and the latest in 2003 of black 3 year olds, and these were the means of all of those studies:

Decade Studies Mean
1960s and Prior 12 85.57
1970s 12 88.35
1980s 11 85.26
1990s and beyond 13 86.67

In addition, in the 24 studies in which there was a white group to compare to, the average IQ gap was 0.958 standard deviations.

Meaning that the black-white IQ gap appears to be almost fully formed by age 3 – which is almost the same as the adult racial IQ gap. In other words, the gap exists, in its near entirety, before school even begins. And the slight difference may just be a result of how performance varies at age groups.

One obvious counter to this is that “IQ at age 3 doesn’t mean anything”.

First off, there’s no real reason to believe this is true. We know that IQ at age 4 is a better predictor of adult IQ than the IQ of your parents is.

But beyond that, whether or not you think it “means anything” is irrelevant, because we’re talking about whether or not the later IQ gap is caused by differences in schools. And since the IQ gap is fully formed by age 3, and school doesn’t start until later, a difference in school quality is on it’s face an extremely unlikely explanation for the adult IQ gap.

Especially since these voucher studies directly compare the effects “good schools” and “bad schools” – whereas in reality some blacks are in “good schools” and some whites are in “bad schools”, and so the difference in school quality between blacks and whites is probably not even as big as the differences in school quality in these voucher studies – which is probably zero anyway.

Early intervention (“super school”) has no lasting effect on IQ

meta-analysis written in May 2015 entitled “The environment in raising early intelligence: A meta-analysis of the fadeout effect” by John Protzko looked at 34 early intervention experiments (and 5 experiments on vitamin supplementation during pregnancy).

The studies, such as the Abecedarian Project, Perry Preschool Project, took children at a very young age and intelligence researchers were able to go whole-hog with all of their environmental theories about developing intelligence and how to develop it.

And with these, the most extreme forms of intervention, the researchers were able to raise the IQs of the participants by roughly 7 points, which faded out to 2 points 5 years after the intervention ended. The author writes:

Interventions that started earlier in a child’s life were no more effective than those which started later in a child’s life, nor did they affect how long the effects lasted (both ps N .15) and as such were dropped from the model. Duration played no appreciable role in explaining the fadeout effect and was also removed from the model.

Now this kind of early intervention is extreme and unrealistic, and can in a sense be treated as a kind of “super-school”, and a consistent 7 point improvement is big. Remember the black-white IQ gap is 15 points.

But also remember this gap exists by age 3, persists through school, and remains there into adulthood. This appears to be similar to the effects of exercising the muscles – once you stop, your muscles go back to their “normal” level, which is why most of the variation in muscle between people is due to genetics as most people don’t lift weights.

And these radical early interventions – which are far beyond what any *real* family can provide – produce at most 2 points in terms of lasting effects, and probably not even that. There’s no good reason to believe that the differences in the schools blacks and whites go to on average even approach the kinds of things done in these early intervention programs.

Facebook Comments
  • yaoi queen

    What about kids in poverty, mostly Hispanic and black, who have parents working several jobs to make ends meet? Those parents don’t have time to really teach their children, so the kids go to Kindergarten already behind because in Kindergarten they expect you to know stuff.

    • Ryan Faulk

      “who have parents working several jobs to make ends meet?”

      – Do you have statistics on this or is this just something you go around believing and saying? Because it sounds like something you heard somewhere and now just kinda believe it.

      Also, early intervention experiments have already decisively debunked this. You can intervene to a point where the blacks are outscoring whites, and the whites still eventually outscore the blacks.

      Stop twisting yourself in knots to come up with environmental explanations for something that is so easily explained by genetics.

      • yaoi queen

        There is a correlation of poverty and education. The there is not as much access to supplies, emotional well being, and the lack of preperation for school. http://education.seattlepi.com/statistics-poverty-affects-children-schools-3636.html

        People in poverty tend to work full time and they’re still in poverty. They don’t have time to teach their kids because they are working to make ends meet.

        People of color have a higher percentage of poverty.

        The unemployment rate by race and education:

        It was from: http://www.dol.gov/_sec/media/reports/blacklaborforce/

        • Kids from poor families have log cognitively stimulating environments and end up, on average, completing fewer years of school than people from rich homes. This is true.

          However, the point that Ryan is making is that several studies have shown that putting poor kids into great environments only boosts their IQ as long as the intervention continues. After that, the gains start to fade and by adulthood they are totally gone.

          More generally, interpreting this information is complicated. Smart parents tend to be richer and better parents than poor parents, and to give their kids smart genes. And their kids end up being smarter. Determining which of these factors are important, and by how much, is a difficult task.

          In this article, over 100 studies are reviewed which show that Whites have higher IQs than Blacks even after controlling for SES:

          In this article, it is shown that family environmental factors explain basically nothing about IQ differences among adult populations:

          • yaoi queen

            Ryan is trying to make a racist point. Rich parents aren’t better than poor parents, the problem is poor parents have to work more to provide basic needs. This can be fixed if we make free public Daycare for ids before they go into Kindergarten so they’ll be able to learn things required for Kindergarten. Another thing is have after school studies be mandatory, and provide snacks for the kids staying after so they’ll be more motivated to attend and get extra help.

            China spends their money on education more efficiently. Also, in America most of the funding for education goes to the wealthier public schools. Black public schools are lacking funds, the teachers are qualified, and they don’t really teach much because of the lack of quality teachers. You can’t learn something that isn’t taught.

            This is huge laziness. Instead of fixing the education system, the harder route, people want to blame race and gender (though not as much this). How about fixing the education system so that the funding is more evenly spread out? Why not train more teachers to be qualified to teach? Why not make sure that all teachers teach in different learning styles? Mandatory after school tutoring for the kids falling behind?

          • Ryan Faulk

            I don’t know what “racist point” is supposed to mean. Do you mean it’s incorrect? Also I don’t know why you think parents are such a big deal. What about genes?:

            “Daycare for kids before they go into Kindergarten so they’ll be able to learn things required for Kindergarten”

            Right, but in this article I point to the results of early intervention studies. They do not have the impact you imagine. What was the point of writing the article if you’re just going to ignore key points in it. You then are saying that a far LESS intense intervention – basic preschool – is going to do more than these total programs?

            “China spends their money on education more efficiently.”

            – Who knows. Maybe. But China’s IQ is that of East Asians:

            Here’s an article I did on the IQs of racial groups in the United States, which again shows East Asians at the level of East Asians worldwide:

            What a bullshit throwdown. How bout I say that you are trying to blame human-chimpanzee or human-gorilla differences on genetics, ignoring the fact that they get zero education and are kept in zoos, that you’re being “lazy” instead of dealing with the harder issue of improving their standard of living.

            Also, did you just ignore the data on voucher studies in this very article? It’s not a matter of schools and teachers, that has been shown decisively to NOT matter. And “learning styles” is a myth:

          • yaoi queen

            Gorillas and Chimpanzees are animals. Not even remotely the same.

            Ignore everything else I said about America not putting resources in public schools for blacks and Hispanics. Ignore everything I posted about the link between education and poverty. Wow…

            At this point, I think that you don’t want to admit that the higher IQs have to do with a broken system. You want it to be, “the natural order.” That’s BS and you know it. Why not use that energy to fix the education system, instead of being too lazy to find ways to fix education and writing racist articles to justify it?

          • Ryan Faulk

            It’s the same principle. You say the difference in life outcomes between humans and gorillas is down to genetics. Well, have gorillas been given the same opportunities? Oh, “different species”, is that important? Why, have you found the specific genes that explain all behavioral differences between humans and gorillas? Have you run systematic controlled experiments with large numbers of humans and gorillas?

            It’s not a joke, and you don’t get to just write off that analogy with “different species”. Because I can just say “different race”.

            “Ignore everything else I said about America not putting resources in public schools for blacks and Hispanics”

            – School spending is the same for all races, also you assume a spending disparity would even matter, which is a claim that would need evidence. Your parenting claim? Okay, shitty people have shitty kids. Genes explains that. You can explain it with parenting, but twin studies and the general heritability of IQ highly suggests against parenting being too important.

            “Ignore everything I posted about the link between education and poverty.”

            – Yes, people who are poor don’t go to college so much. A LINK EXISTS. You can also find various “links” between being poor and watching shitty TV. So what?

            “At this point, I think that you don’t want to admit that the higher IQs have to do with a broken system.”

            – But you’ve shown zero evidence that it is. All you show is that poorer people do worse in school. Poor people do worse in a lot of things. So what?

            “That’s BS and you know it.”

            – Here, start with this, Sean and I wrote all of these:

            Go read those things, we spent a very, very long time writing all of those things.

            Also “people of color” is a crypto anti-white term is the same way “gentile” is a crypto anti-jew term. Because you refer to a single group, “people of color”, meaning everyone but Europeans, you are singling out Europeans for hate.

            So don’t use “people of color” anymore. Refer to races. Or just get off the site.

          • yaoi queen

            Humans and Gorillas are a different SPECIES. Are you kidding me?!

            Different race doesn’t apply because we’re all human.

            No it isn’t. Minority schools have been proven to be underfunded.







            You are doing lazy thinking. Instead of blaming the actual problem, you point fingers at the wrong people. It’s no different than the middle class blaming poor people, or poor white people blaming poor minorities, for all the economical problems of America, when in reality it’s the top 1% screwing everyone over.

          • Ryan Faulk


            There are no significant differences, and what little does exist hasn’t been shown to matter at all.

            We’re done, the one engaged in lazy thinking is you. The first article you linked to talked about budget cuts in a specific district, and didn’t even have any baseline to compare to.

            And beyond that, you never show any impact. Yes, richer people spend money on nicer houses, nicer cars, and maybe more money on the school buildings. You think this means something, well the voucher studies say otherwise. You either willfully ignore the super-obvious arguments against what you are saying, or you are are really just that dense. Either way you’re done wasting my time.

          • yaoi queen

            I literally gave you multiple sources that like education with poverty. I also gave you sources about school funding and education, then I gave you sources about minorities having the least amount of funding.

            No, I got it right the first time. The lazy one is you. You literally can’t admit that you are wrong. You can’t admit that maybe certain people don’t score as high because of lack of resources, lack of funding, and lack of privilege. I’ll admit my privilege: I’m middle class, I took AP classes, my family has a history of going to college, I was born in the United States of America, I’m Christian, etc. Sure my smarts get me far, but I also have the technology to look up things I’m not clear about, I have enough money to pay for college, etc.

            Richer people also spend money on education: resources, tutors, prep classes, better public schools, and better colleges.

          • MeanFacts

            Yea, blacks, whites, dogs, rats are all the same. Are you kidding me? We are all the same kingdom class, animalia! Like omg, I can’t even, and in the current year, to boot. It’s adorable that you consider yourself one of the smart blacks and simultaneously argue that there can be no differences in biological aggregates because we are all the same arbitrary/construct. “Human species” is a man made construct. Every “human” is a human, so does that mean that there is no single human with lower intelligence than any other single human? After you inevitably concede that individuals can be dumber than other individuals, do you know that groups are made up of a collective of individuals? The fun thing is that you are probably one of the most intelligent blacks in the world, and even then, your IQ can’t be anything higher than 120.

          • yaoi queen

            “Yea, blacks, whites, dogs, rats are all the same. Are you kidding me? We are all the same kingdom class, animalia! Like omg, I can’t even, and in the current year, to boot.”

            This made sense to you? That’s not what I was saying at all, but continue to reach…

            I never said that one person isn’t smarter than the other. How smart someone is varies from person to person, not by race.

            I simply asked him a question about kids in poverty and/or kids with parents who work more so they don’t have time to teach kids, and the kids end up falling behind in Kindergarten. He asked for statistic, then I showed him. Now, people come from nowhere putting words in my mouth.

          • Kris Polk

            yaoi queen, Ryan provided the data about total per pupil spending by race. I’m not sure what data you’re clinging to here. I’m sure there is variation how much funding schools get *from* local property taxes, but the differences are made up in spending from other sources.

            ” You can’t admit that maybe certain people don’t score as high because
            of lack of resources, lack of funding, and lack of privilege”
            He clearly admitted that “maybe” that was possible, otherwise he would have simply asserted his position without doing the empirical research.

            ” Sure my smarts get me far, but I also have the technology to look up things I’m not clear about”
            Looks like you’re not the only one:

            Moreover Whites are actually less likely to receive test prep than Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics:

          • yaoi queen

            I’m clinging to data given by researchers and the government. Multiple sources link income/school funding with test scores. They also show that a larger percentage of black people are in poverty and more have underfunded schools.

            Smartphones aren’t the only technology. Factor in laptops, tablets, etc. Also, better schools, schools that have more classes and resources, tutors, etc.

          • Jeff

            You still haven’t demonstrated that “better schools” raise IQ. This article provided plenty of evidence that it doesn’t. You can whine about school funding all you want, it doesn’t change a single thing in this article or what Ryan Faulk said in his exchange with you.

          • yaoi queen

            I don’t think I gave this particular source, but researchers link school funding with grades.


            When you put effort into something, 8 or 9 times out of 10, you’ll get better resorts compared to when you put little to no effort into something. Also, in one of the sources it explained how majority minority schools tend to have less classes.

            I remember when I went from a mostly black school, to a mostly white school. The difference was night and day. At the white school: lunch was better, it was cleaner, had more options, more quality teachers, and the supplies for each class had better materials and activities. At my mostly black school, in cooking class we only cooked pizza and baked pizza. My brother at the mostly white school said they cooked a meal every week. We had more electives and math and science classes in the white school. No matter how much you push yourself at the black school, you have a limited amount of resources. The school was gross, so people weren’t as motivated to go.

            To fix the problem, we must actually fund all schools fairly. Put more money into education, and spend it more efficiently.

          • Jeff

            That article proves nothing. It looks at schools with lower funding, sees that they also have lower grades, then concludes that the lower funding is causing the lower grades. That is completely fallacious as it doesn’t take into account genetic confounders. As this article demonstrated, going to better schools doesn’t raise your intelligence.

          • yaoi queen

            It does to a certain extent.

            Some schools don’t have certain classes. How can you learn something that was not taught to you?

            A lot of people write articles saying, “the school doesn’t matter,” to appeal to different people. Replace black people with the South and Asians with the North East. They even show women having lower test scores.

            This is BS. They literally don’t care to take care of the problem, so they proceed to play the blame game. One minutes it’s dumb white Southern rednecks, then it’s women, then it’s minorities. Hell they’ve even tried to link Christianity with dumber people, and Atheists with smarter people.

            The sad thing is people fall for it, and/or have selective outrage.

          • Ryan Faulk

            I don’t understand the point you’re making. Whites in the northeast may be genetically predisposed to higher IQs than whites in the south, same with other race-region pairings. Christians in the US do have lower IQs than atheists in the US.

            You’re just sputtering all over this page.

          • MeanFacts

            You are not very good at thinking. “There are less classes at black schools!” Whatever classes are “missing”, they sure as hell arent on the basic subjects of English, math ,or history all of which are topics blacks do horrendously in. Also, you are an imbecile if you don’t understand why a study that shows a correlation between school budget and grades is not mutually exclusive with a study that shows that there is very little or no causal link between a students performance and the school he attends.

          • Kris Polk


            Were the ‘more quality teachers’ at your brother’s White school White? Were the apparently lower-quality teachers at your Black school Black? I don’t know if I like where you’re going with this…

  • IllogicalPositivist

    Your tables showing that voucher schemes don’t improve performance are not consistent with what I’ve heard from other sources. For example, this report (http://www.edchoice.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/2013-4-A-Win-Win-Solution-WEB.pdf) from the Friedman Foundation for Education Choice (no doubt a biased source) states that:

    “There have been 12 studies using random assignment methods to examine how school choice affects the academic outcomes of participants. These studies consistently find that school choice benefits students. Six of them find that choice had a positive impact across all students participating. Another five find that choice had a positive impact on some student groups and no visible impact on other students. One study found no visible impact from choice. None find that choice had a negative effect.”

    • That link does not work!

    • I think this contradiction may be due to a difference in language. For instance, the review you cite references 6 studies on the Milwaukee program which Ryan looks at in this article. Your citation says “Six studies examine Milwaukee’s voucher program; all six find a positive impact on public schools.”

      And, indeed, Ryan’s citation states “We reviewed the project’s data for the 2010-11 school year, which is the last year the researchers arranged to receive test scores of Choice pupils who took the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination. Using different methodologies, we and the researchers found separate instances in which the average change in Choice pupils’ test scores from the 2006-07 school year to the 2010-11 school year was greater than the average change in MPS pupils’ test scores, and the differences in average test score changes were statistically significant.”

      However, Ryan’s interpretation is that “the variation in school quality – if such variation even exists – between the schools voucher students chose and voucher applicants who didn’t get vouchers were stuck in, appears to have precisely zero effect on test scores.”

      I assume that what is going on here is that Ryan considers the effect size to be a no practical significance even if it is statistically significant.

    • The most helpful thing to do here would be to express the average effect size in standard deviations. I wonder if the required data is available.

    • Ryan Faulk

      The thing you linked didn’t have any tables that showed the score comparison between people who applied for vouchers and got them, and people who applied for vouchers but did not get them.

      Why on earth would an analysis of voucher studies not do this?

      It also cites (6 times) the single Milwaukee program as being evidence of a positive impact, when the data obviously shows zero impact.

  • MeanFacts

    I didn’t look at the link, but if it is the case that the link is discussing people in general, it may be the case that whites would get a measurable benefit by going to “good schools” (schools with whites vs schools with blacks), for obvious reasons. Similarly, you could find that school choice for blacks creates a measurable difference if you create a third school option, a school populated with blacks that are a standard deviation below the average black. In other words, you are comparing the effects of taking people and placing them above their range (putting blacks in white schools), which would have no effect, to taking people and placing them below their range, which would have an effect. It may also simply be the case that whites have a wider range of plasticity/assimilation since they have a higher IQ.

  • Mark Martinson

    There are 16,000 school districts in the USA. If racial hereditarianism is false then one should be able to find at least one where blacks do as well as whites. Likewise, you should be able to find black countries that have high IQs (or even have IQs that differ significantly from the hereditarian hypothesis).

    The inability to come up with a single counterexample is to me almost complete proof of race realism. And we still have brain size differences, regression to the mean, etc.

    • Mark Martinson

      I believe there are studies that show that Whites and Asians who attended largely black schools do better than the black children. So this also undercuts the claim that a bad school produces a low IQ.

      • Mark Martinson

        There is also the “Shaker Heights phenomena.” SH is a wealthy black suburb of Cleveland where high income blacks has fled. The children do better than the Cleveland schools, but not differently from one would expect on the hereditarian hypothesis. The black children have regressed to the mean, notwithstanding their higher IQ parents.

        I’m still waiting for the environmentalists to come up with the “x factor” that produces a roughly one standard deviation gap in IQ, whether in the north or south, Canada or the USA. Once again hereditarianism can explain all the data,

    • Kris Polk

      Interestingly enough, the closest you find to that on a state level is that DODEA (military family schools) Black students do about as well as Whites from West Virginia. Besides that white scores for any state outscore Blacks for any state.

      • Ryan Faulk

        Don’t link things from unz.com please. If you absolutely must, link a cache of it.

        • Kris Polk

          Done. Out of curiosity, is this because of his pro-immigration stance?

  • Luideraad

    I tried to access the link to ‘A meta-analysis written in May 2015’, which is http://www.sciencedirect.com.sci-hub.io/science/article/pii/S016028961500135X however it doesn’t seem to work, I have to change the .io to .bz , .cc or .ac like the web addresses stated on the wiki about sci-hub https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sci-Hub like this http://www.sciencedirect.com.sci-hub.ac/science/article/pii/S016028961500135X