Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Australian research into the academic performance of twins in NAPLAN tests has revealed that skills in maths, reading and spelling are up to 75% genetic
Genetics also had a 50% impact on writing skills. In stark contrast, the influence of teachers and schools on students was only found to be around 5%, when looking at why children performed better or worse than their peers. The research has been conducted by Emeritus Professor Brian Byrne and colleagues at the Centre of Excellence for Cognition and its Disorders, and the University of New England. Byrne and his colleagues were allowed access to around 3000 sets of twins and were able to look at their academic performance in literacy and numeracy NAPLAN tests in years 3, 5, 7 and 9. Families, teachers and schools had a much more modest contribution when explaining the difference in academic performance of children in the same grade or class. The majority of difference between students’ abilities in literacy and numeracy were instead attributable to their genetic make-up. Writing skills were the least influenced by genetics – only about 50%. Genetic influences on reading, spelling and mathematics abilities were found to be between 50% - 75%. “Genes are the things that are, for the most part, driving differences among children, and not different teachers or even different schools,” Byrne said.