How EI Effective Are You?

Blue_Rogers swings_2011-11-06


2013-05-03 – Yesterday I tweeted a Wall Street Journal story about a new practice among top business schools to test their applicants’ emotional intelligence (EI).

This reminded me of a situation I encountered several years ago when I was president of the local school council at my sons’ grade school. Our school was a partial magnet school, which means that you could get into the school’s “gifted” program without living in the school’s geographic district. We wanted to compare our school’s gifted program with other gifted programs around the city.

We took a look at the top-scoring school in the city as a benchmark. We looked at results grade-level by grade-level. And here was a surprising result: as the kids got older, the gap between our program scores and the benchmark school got less and less. At graduation, the benchmark school was still ahead of us, but not by much.

It was a tortoise and hare situation.

The thing that clarified this in my mind was an analysis of the grade level statistic. Since we were both magnet schools that based admission on a standardized test (a kind of IQ test), the entering students at both schools were significantly above grade level. Each year, we advanced our kids by a tad over one year in grade level, so our kids were getting ahead. Each year, however, the benchmark school was advancing its kids by less than a grade level! Their kids started out significantly ahead, so they graduated ahead. But their program apparently wasn’t doing as much for the kids as ours was.

I say apparently, because the statistics are suspect. But it was definitely interesting to think that the benchmark school might have been getting its reputation, not based on the teaching that was going on in the school, but based primarily on the fact that they kept slower kids from even attending.

Is that what is going on in these business schools? I can’t even begin to answer that. I don’t know enough about their programs. But I do know enough to ask the question. If EI is what it takes, can they inflate their stats on student placement in good jobs simply by excluding students with low EI? Are they implicitly saying that it doesn’t really matter what they teach?

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