Extract from an article by Brian Byrne, Katrina Grasby, Richard Olson and William Coventry
The influence of genes on school achievement has now been well established by researchers using the “natural experiment” afforded by identical and non-identical twins. Between 50% and 75% of the differences among students in the same grade in literacy and numeracy is estimated to be attributed to genes; the rest to environmental factors.
The same researchers have also been interested in whether genetic influence remains constant across differing levels of some environmental factors, such as socio-economic status (SES). Are differences among students from poorer households as subject to the influence of genetics as those from richer households? Technically, this is referred to as the search for a gene-by-environment interaction.
The question matters, because if an interaction exists between genes and SES, for example, that would mean environmental influences affect children differently depending on a family’s economic position in society. This in turn could have important implications for social and educational policy.In our research on Australia-wide tests of literacy and numeracy (the NAPLAN tests), we show that the profile of the relative influence of genetic and environmental factors for Australian students remains pretty constant across all SES levels, both family- and school-based..(continues)
SOURCE: Brian Byrne, Katrina Grasby, Richard Olson and William Coventry, “For Australian students, academic potential still outweighs social circumstances”, The Conversation, 12 September 2017
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia