Intelligence v. Grades

Today's Post
I read the “Ask Marilyn” column in Parade magazine and was reminded of two students I had in junior high during the 1980s.[mfn]I did posts about those students I called Skifoot and She. Those posts are truncated here.[/mfn]
The “Ask Marilyn” question was, “I know a young woman who failed all her classes during her first (and only) semester of college. How could the school have admitter her?”

Author Marilyn vos Savant’s answer was, “Plenty of students bomb as freshmen, with no one having a clue beforehand. Reasons vary wildly (from stress to finances to being just plain sick of schooling), but they have little to do with ability or intelligence. Spending much of one’s youth sitting in classrooms, doing homework and taking tests is unnatural and taxing. And then in college, students must study subjects in which they have no interest and will never put to use. It’s not surprising that roughly 40 percent of them leave before graduation.”

Most of the students with whom I delt over the years were average[mfn]a little ahead or a little behind the center of the normal distribution curve[/mfn]. But Skifoot and his sister, She, tested above 140 IQ.

When She was assigned to my English class at the beginning of winter quarter, she had already missed most of the first ten weeks.

School policy for attendance, at the time, was: a student missing 15 days except for verifiable medical reasons would receive a failing grade. She’s record coming into my class revealed she had been at school the first few days and on the days for mid-quarter and end of quarter first quarter testing.

Transferred first quarter grade records showed that She had aced both the mid-quarter and quarter tests in the English class in which she had been enrolled. With tests being only 40% of the grade, and her being absent all but 5 days, She was an F student in English and all other classes for the same reason.

I lost track of She at the end of the school year and learned later that She tested through a GED program and tested into admission to a university just shy of her 14th birthday.

We had no idea about She’s having social anxiety disorder.

Her brother Skifoot, however was a different story. He got his nickname from having size 14 feet. And he was touted by his elementary school as ready for the ninth grade or above when he entered junior high school.

Unlike She, Skifoot seldom missed a full day of school. He did, however, miss individual classes but as far as I knew he never left campus. Except for being caught smoking once each quarter and taking the five-day suspension without protest, Skifoot was never caught doing any punishable act.

Skifoot answered every question on two required standardized tests but scored zero. That would be very near impossible unless the test taker knew every correct answer.

Unlike his sister She, Skifoot dropped out of school the day he turned 16. The last I heard was that he was making more in cash as a part-time gyppo logger than a starting teacher. An unverifiable rumor was that he had cash crops at several remote locations.

I lost track of the siblings, but a former colleague told me he’d heard that Skifoot had been killed in a logging accident and She was doing dissertation level research at an Ivy League college.