Genomics of Education in Education: ELSI Concerns about Genomic Prediction in Educational Settings
M.S. in Clinical Research Methods Candidate, Fordham University
Polygenic scores (PGS) for educational traits and outcomes (e.g., math ability, reading ability, and educational attainment) are currently available to the public via direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies, such as GenePlaza. A PGS is a DNA-based genetic predictor in the sense that it places an individual’s sample of DNA on a spectrum from low to high. So, in theory, people with a high percentile rank PGS score for educational attainment would be likely to accrue more years of schooling in their lifetime than people with lower ranked scores. Similarly, children with low PGS scores for math ability would be less likely to do well in math classes than children with high scores.
Although polygenic prediction of highly complex educational traits and outcomes—which are known to be strongly influenced by social and environmental factors—are extremely limited in predictive accuracy, high profile research scientists have already begun to entertain potential applications in educational settings. Perhaps the most sensational among these has been Robert Plomin’s call for “precision education,” in which he suggests that technology will soon be able “to use DNA ‘chips’ to…
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