Arithmetic, reading and writing performance has a strong genetic component: A study in primary school children

From Science Direct.

Highlights

  • Individual differences in objectively measured educational achievement in primary school are to a large extent due to genes
  • Heritability is consistently high across educational domains and grades
  • No gender differences in the underlying etiology of educational achievement
  • Heritability in the Netherlands in comparable to other countries

Even children attending the same primary school and taught by the same teacher differ greatly in their performance. In the Netherlands, performance at the end of primary school determines the enrollment in a particular level of secondary education. Identifying the impact of genes and the environment on individual differences in educational achievement between children is important. The Netherlands Twin Register has collected data on scores of tests used in primary school (ages 6 to 12) to monitor a child’s educational progress in four domains, i.e. arithmetic, word reading, reading comprehension and spelling (1058 MZ and 1734 DZ twin pairs), and of a final test (2451 MZ and 4569 DZ twin pairs) in a large Dutch cohort. In general, individual differences in educational achievement were to a large extent due to genes and the influence of the family environment was negligible. Moreover, there is no evidence for gender differences in the underlying etiology.