Thursday, September 18, 2008

Today's SAT

"High-School sudents' performance on SAT college-entrance exams stalled, and the gap widened between low-scoring minority groups and the overall population, raising questions about the quality of teaching in U.S. schools. ... The reading scores of the past two years were the lowest since 1994. Math represented the worst showing since 2001. Each section is judged on a 200- to 800-point scale. African-American students received an average critical reading score of 430, 72 points below the general population and three points beneath their 2007 level. ... More than 1.5 million students from the high-school class of 2008 took the SAT, 2% more than in 2007 and 8% more than five years ago. Minority SAT takers made up 40% of test takers, up from a third 10 years ago. ... No boost in overall scores and persistent minority shortfalls suggested to some experts that the improvement shown on many state exams mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind law may be illusory. The law, which took effect in 2002, mandates that all students be proficient in reading and math by 2014 and requires that school systems show steady progress toward meeting that goal or face sanctions. In particular, NCLB is supposed to lift the results of lagging student groups, including minorities. ... Studies have shown a wide variance in the difficulty of the state exams, which are used to measure progress toward goals set by NCLB. ... In addition Prof. [Joe] Pedulla [of Boston College] says, the persistent gap in the achievement of minority students is ' a very troubling outcome.' ... Asian-Americans continue to post stellar results. On the math section, the group achieved an average score of 581, 66 points better than average. Asian-Americans also outperformed in critical-reading and writing, though by less. Some students have said that college-admissions offices have placed unofficial quotas on the number of spots allowed to Asian-American students", my emphasis, John Hechinger at the WSJ, 27 August 2008.

"The students at Powell Point Elementary [PPE] report to the school gym before 8 a.m. for their morning exercises. ... 'First time!' they answer. By that, the students mean they will pass the state-mandated TAKS exam in reading, writing, math and science on their first attempt. ... Powell Point, which dates back to 1904, is among the oldest historically black schools in Texas. ... About half the children are black, half are Hispanic, and nearly all come from poor families. The median household income in Kendleton [location of PPE] is $21,562. ... Kendleton ISD and Powell Point had earned the state's 'academically unacceptable' rating for two straight years when [Mildred] West [principal of PPE] arrived", Houston Chronicle, 7 September 2008.

"While our 'coverage' of the [Olympic] games appeared in real-time, the actual competition took place over the past several years, via international exams such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). ... But it's particularly depressing to glance at the events where the U.S. flopped completely. By far our worst showing was for out lowest-performing students. The [US] placed 38th in the world in terms of getting our 15-year-olds over PISA's most basic achievement level in science. The [US] has 15 times more students than Finland does performing below this level, and more than three times as many as our Canadian Neighbors. ... Consider the latest reflections in the Wilson Quarterly from Jay Matthews, the crackerjack veteran Washington Post education reporter. He writes that 'there is scant evidence that test scores have much to do with national economic performance. ... Perhaps Matthews should acquaint himself with Eric Hanushek's recent research on this very topic. ... Though the analysis was complicated, Hanushek's key finding was simple: The level of cognitive skills of a nation's students has a large effect on its subsequent economic-growth rate. ... Hanushek et. al. close with this warning: ... 'the situation at the K-12 level should spark concerns about the long-term outlook for the U.S. economy.' ... Simply put, we're living on borrowed time", Michael Petrilli & Amber Weber (P&W) at, 8 September 2008.

Amazing. Asians average 105 IQ, Caucasians, 100; Negroes and Hispanics about 85. Are these results unexpected? Not by me. As to Asians being discriminated in college admissions, I have seen them called "New Jews". The state test result improvements may be illusory? Hardly. The states showing improvement just adopted my 1965 suggestion. See my 1 September 2008 post.

Today's SAT may tell us something else: our educational standards are falling faster than most people realize. Average critical reading and mathematics scores were: 502 and 515. Let's compare this 1017 to 1960's SAT. Why? Because test takers ethnic composition changed. I estimate 95% of 1960 SAT test takers were caucasian. ... SAT test takers average IQ has fallen by about 6 points or .4 SD in the last 48 years. How did CEEB handle this in scoring today's exam in addition to "recentering" it about 10 years ago? I estimate today's 1600 is about 1450 on the 1960 exam.

Charles Murray (CM), remember him, calls things like NCLB, "educational romanticism". "The [US] Congress acting with large bipartisan majorities, at the urging of the President, enacted as the law of the land that all children are to be above average. ... There are no examples of intensive in-school programs that permanently raise intellectual ability during the K-12 years. ... When Congress passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, it included a mandate for a nationwide study to assess the effects of inequality of educational opportunity on student achievement. ... Before Coleman's team set to work, everybody expected that the study would document a relationship between the quality of schools and academic achievement of the students in those schools. To everybody's shock, the Coleman Report instead found that the quality of the schools explains almost nothing about difference in academic achievement. ... To put it another way, we have every reason to think--and already did when the [NCLB] Act was passed--that the notion of making all children proficient in math and reading is ridiculous. ... The effects of the triumphant Civil Rights Movement gave a special reason for white elites in the 1960s to start ignoring the implications of intellectual limitations. ... Elite white guilt made it impossible to say that a lot of black children were going to fail in school and there's nothing anybody could do about it. ... People are unwilling to talk about those differences in public, but it is a classic emperor's-clothes scenario waiting for someone to point out the obvious", my emphasis. Here's a link to this May 2008 New Criterion article:

Steve Sailer (SS) has a 29 June 2008 Vdare post about how to improve our schools. I endorse SS's propsals. Here's a link: Hugh McInnish seconded SS's position, proposing a new way to measure school achievement at Vdare, 2 July 2008, I proposed McInnish's measure 40 years ago!

Here's an application of SS's proposal. "Almost two-third's of the students in Dallas's 225 schools are Hispanic, while 29% are African American and 5% are non-Hispanic white, WSJ, 20 August 2008. Dallas Independent School District (DISD) has a 25.8% dropout rate. So? Is this "bad"? If 65% of DISD's kids are Hispanic, we add the 29% Negro and get 94% with an average 85 IQ. Using Arthur Bestor's citerion, my 1 September 2008 post, only about 37.4% should be able to graduate from high school. How does DISD graduate 74.2%? What does DISD teach anyway?

I ask Lenin's 1902 question, "What is to be done"?

I again ask Lenin's 1902 question. I note P&W do not refer to Lynn and Vanhanen's work. As to Finland's good results, the blogosphere is all over it. Here are two posts from and

Was this forseeable? "A great many people are anxious about having children. I hear about this concern frequently from young men and women pasing through Harvard--more than ever before in my three and a half decades here. ... Though populations in South America and Africa and the Indian subcontinent continue to grow at an alarming rate, the U.S. media direct their attention increasingly to labor shortages in industrial societies and to shrinking school populations in affluent American suburbs", "IQ and Falling Birth Rates", R.J. Herrnstein, Atlantic, May, 1989, Vol. 263, No. 5, page 73. "If the French worry about fertility was characterized as mainly quantitative, the British worry was mainly qualitative. ... But [Prime Minister lee Kuan Yew of Singapore] is an exception, for few modern political leaders dare to talk in public about the qualitative aspect of low fertility. We know why this is, and it has less to do with whether or not we have a fertility problem that with the unacceptability of talking about the subject. In our century the Nazis made selective fertility an emblem of National Socialism, with malevolent consequences that need not review here. Hence to even mention fertility in relation to nation or race have become taboo. ... My subject is differences among groups within the population: how these differences affect fertility and how that, in the long run, may affect the society's economic well-being. ... The evidence shows that prior to transition [to an industrialized society] women of high status had higher fertility than those of low status", 74. "With only rare exceptions, according to the evidence [Robert] Retherford has assembled, the fall in fertility during the transition is thus not just a fall but also a redistribution. ... No species can survive in the long run, however, if its female fertility falls below what demographers call the replacement rate", 75. "Much research suggests that the less intelligent people are, the less they are likely, on average, to be influenced by the delayed consequences of their behavior. ... Differential reproduction shifts a population toward the characteristics of the more prolific parents for all traits in which parents and children resemble each other, for whatever reason. Are brighter women, in fact, having few children than less bright women in the [US]? ... The decline would be larger in the black population than in the white, because black women show a steeper fertility differential in relation to IQ", 76. "Whether or not one approves of it, education and intelligence are thus correlated--but they are not identical. ... Occupational success in modern societies is linked to education. ... Therefore, one line of reasoning goes, the key to productivity and individual achievement is education--rather than individual traits that predict educational success. ... The [US] has decisively left the competition behind in sending its population to school. ... Sending more people to school has no doubt produced benefits in the quality of American life, but instead of an educated populace, we find widespread illiteracy and its mathematical equivalent, innumeracy. Many Americans are going to school more but, apparently are learning less. ... For the present, however, the fact is that the expansion of schooling has not done the job we expected it to do, and its disappointments are evident not just in the classroom", 78. "What are the implications? First, at this point in our history merely sending more people to school for more years seems to offer little benefit to economic performance. ... Second, we should be conscious of how public policy interacts not just with education but also with other influences on the intellectual quality of the population, such as the differential in the fertility rates for women of different intelligence. ... Whatever else we may want to infer from that fact, we ought to bear in mind that in not too many generations differential fertility could swamp the effects of anything else we may do about our economic standing in the world", 79. When Herrnstein wrote that, 19 years ago, he was a Harvard professor. Differential fertility is real. Negroes fertility gradient, for whatever reason, is steeper than that of caucasians. This implies that, over time, black and white IQs and achievement test results should diverge, all other things being equal! For shame, I agree with a deceased Harvard man! The popular media's most significant recent treatment of this issue was 2007's movie, "Idiocracy". That's where the US is going if we continue on our current path, the opinions of our "educationalists" notwithstanding.


Anonymous said...

GW The purpose of education in an industrialized society is to keep the maximum number of people for the maximum amount of time out of the labor force. There are no jobs in the economy for all the people of working age in the country. It is cheaper for governments to keep people in school than to have them on welfare, in prison, etc. This purpose of education is a well known fact at the upper echelons of government and was first told to me over 40 years ago by a very senior official. All the rest, including much you have written about, is merely political window-dressing. HDF

Independent Accountant said...

I was wondering if a reader would offer your explanation. I suggested it in 1965, when I could not come up with any better explanation for what I saw and compared conditions then to Vance Packard's "The Status Seekers", 1959. Welcome aboard! However, as the US ecoomy collapses, we will no longer be able to afford this palliative. Or for that matter will Germany, where it is common for "students" to take 8-10 years to finish university studies. We may see an American version of Mao's 1965 "Cultural Revolution", with professors working in the fields. "Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished", Hamlet.

Jr Deputy Accountant said...


HDF offers an interesting "theory" if that's what you want to call it, and looking at the students I deal with on a daily basis (college-educated, some MASTERS level! As you would say, bah!), it all makes sense now (you already know this, Pop, this might be the 10,000th time we've discussed this plague on America). Is that why NASBA is pushing for Masters degrees for all CPAs? Who cares how many units they have, they are still useless without the brain cells required to make logical conclusions based on principle. But who cares? All they do is press buttons and facilitate Big 87654 criminal activity by standing around in warehouses counting inventories. Judgment? Who needs it! It's better for the Big 87654 if they don't have a shred of that.

I scored in the top 99% in my graduating high school class (1998) for both the SATs and ACTs. I was also hungover for the SAT and I may have been still drunk when I took the ACTs. Why? Because by that point I'd been so bored by public school that I didn't think there was anything better to do but get wasted, it surely beat filling out the coloring books they called textbooks in those final years. Unfortunately for me, no one took me under their wing at that time and offered me the opportunity to REALLY learn. It's ok. I made up for it in my late 20s, as you know, and am happy to report I have alternate excuses for my excessive drinking these days.

I agree with you in that we cannot continue this farce if HDF's suggestion is true. As a person who works in professional licensure, I can also assure you that even if HDF is wrong we cannot keep this up. The "stupidity syndrome" has backfired on them - they wanted stupid monkeys to press their buttons but didn't realize that if they made them too stupid, they'd also need to have their diapers changed. But hey! Maybe there will be jobs for the smart people to wipe drool off of chins and carry around signs that say "SOCKS FIRST, SHOES SECOND"

I grieve for my little boy. Can you only IMAGINE what HIS graduating class will be like? Ever seen a zombie film?

If the Class of 1998 was so braindead that a drunken 15 year old could perform better than 99% of them on standardized tests, how bad will things be in 2021?! Poor thing. But at least I know my job.