About the time that schools and others quite reasonably became interested in seeing to it that all children, whatever their background, were fairly treated, intelligence testing became unpopular.
Some thought it was unfair to minority children. Through the past few decades such testing has gone out of fashion and many communities have indeed forbidden it.
However, paradoxically, just recently a group of black parents filed a lawsuit in California claiming that the state’s ban on IQ testing discriminates against their children by denying them the opportunity to take the test. (They believed, correctly, that IQ tests are a valid method of evaluating children for special education classes.) The judge, therefore, reversed, at least partially, his original decision.
And so the argument goes on and on. Does it benefit or harm children from minority groups to have their intelligence tested? We have always been on the side of permitting, even facilitating such testing. If a child of any color or group is doing poorly in school it seems to us very important to know whether it is because he or she is of low intelligence, or whether some other factor is the cause.
What school and family can do to improve poor performance is influenced by its cause. It is not discriminative to evaluate either a child’s physical condition or his intellectual level.
Unfortunately, intellectual level seems to be a sensitive subject, and what the law allows us to do various from time to time. The same fluctuation back and forth occurs in areas other than intelligence. Thirty years or so ago, for instance, white families were encouraged to adopt black children. It was considered discriminative not to do so.
And then the style changed and this cross-racial adopting became generally unpopular, and social agencies felt that black children should go to black families only. It is hard to say what the best procedures are. But surely good will on the part of all of us is needed.
As to intelligence, in our opinion, the more we know about any child’s intellectual level, the better for the child in question.