"High-school students' performance last year on the SAT college-entrance exam fell slightly, and the score gap generally widened between lower-performing minority groups and white and Asian-American students, raising questions about the effectiveness of national education reform efforts. ... The reading scores are the worst since 1994. Many observers Tuesday viewed the flat results of recent years as discouraging in light of a more than 25-year effort to improve US education. 'This is a nearly unrelenting tale of woe,' said Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute., a Washington, DC think tank. ... The results come a week after the disclosure that only a quarter of 2009 high-school graduates who took the ACT, the other main college entrance exam, had the skills to suceed in college. ... A record 1.53 million students took the [SAT] in 2009. About 40% were minority students, up from 29% in 1999. Education analysts said scores would be expected to drop as more students take the test, so College Board officials interpreted the stability in scores as encouraging. ... Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy, a nonpartisan research organization in Washington [said] 'The bottom line is the country is changing dramatically. Unless minority kids are educated better, we are going to be in trouble because pretty soon they are going to be the majority'," my emphasis, John Hechinger at the WSJ, 26 August 2009, link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125121641858657345.html.
Gregory Mankiw (GM), Harvard professor has a 28 August 2009 post which mentions "omitted variable bias" in attacking a NYT piece, link: http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2009/08/least-surprising-correlation-of-all.html. Way to go GM!
GM notes his "previous blog post on SAT scores and income generated a surprising amount of blogosphere pushback", 29 August 2009, link: http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2009/08/and-i-thought-i-was-being-boring.html. GM, you're naive. Don't you remember the 2005 flap over Larry Summer's (LS) statements about women and mathematics ability? You and LS are in the same department. Talk to him.
What gives? Richwine has a Harvard PhD and Putnam is a Harvard Professor. I suggested auctioning immigration slots decades ago.
Suppose someone tried to teach me to play basketball. He would have had a "tale of woe" that could have lasted for decades too. So? Are our "education analysts" missing something? Why should average SAT scores fall as more students take the test? If you have a representative sample of high schoolers in your "standardization sample" all other things being equal, if your sample size increases, there is no reason average scores should drop. If you encourage more high schoolers with bad grades to take the SAT, the average score will drop as high school grades and SAT scores are positively correlated. Are these "analysts" afraid to identify this possible explanation: as the percentage of Non-Asian Minority (NAM) test takers increases, average SAT scores will drop and there is nothing anyone can do about it. It doesn't matter if "minority kids are educated better", if we even know what that means. As America's demographics change, we will come to resemble the native lands of our new immigrants. That is the bottom line.