PISA Test Score Gap Closing

December 27, 2012

More evidence against Richard Lynn's Italian "IQ" study. The achievement test scores he used to "measure" intelligence have since improved dramatically in Southern Italy, which is rapidly catching up to the North.

Recent results of international assessment programs (e.g., PISA) have shown a large difference in high school students' performance between northern and southern Italy. On this basis, it has been argued that the discrepancy reflects differences in average intelligence of the inhabitants of regions and is associated with genetic factors (Lynn, 2010a, 2012). This paper provides evidence in contrast to this conclusion by arguing that the use of PISA data to make inferences about regional differences in intelligence is questionable, and in any case, both PISA and other recent surveys on achievement of North and South Italy students offer some results that do not support Lynn's conclusions. In particular, a 2006-2009 PISA data comparison shows a relevant decrease in the North-South difference in only three years, particularly evident in the case of a single region (Apulia). Other large surveys (including INVALSI-2011) offer different results; age differences suggest that schooling could have an important role.

Cornoldi et al. "Problems in deriving Italian regional differences in intelligence from 2009 PISA data". Intelligence, 2013.