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Education Should Focus on Quality, Not ‘Equity’
I recently took the test required for US citizenship applicants. It consisted of 20 out of 100 possible questions. It was shockingly simple.
Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and the Constitution were all answers to straightforward questions. Probably the most difficult question was the minimum voting age (18). I’m no scholar but there was no doubt about any answer.
Yet only one of three American adults can achieve the 60% pass rate. It’s another stark reminder of the sorry condition of our public education system.
You see it everywhere. Most third-grade graduates can’t read. High schools award diplomas to students with eighth-grade (or worse) academic skills. Colleges must give remedial instruction before freshpersons can tackle even the most basic courses.
Employers complain about uneducated, untrainable college graduates. Tech companies lobby for visas so foreign workers can fill jobs where they can’t find qualified applicants.
America still has an academic elite that produces world-leading research and wins prizes, but we suffer at every other level from the lack of academic attainment. Achievement scores have been stagnant for over 50 years, since teachers’ unions assumed de facto control of our public school systems.
Nothing new here, but the public school monopoly has been remarkably successful in fending off desperately needed reforms, like universal school choice. Instead of taking accountability for failures, they simply change the standards.
Arizona has had several iterations of “high stakes“ achievement tests in the last few decades, all created in response to unacceptably high failure rates on previous tests. Yet the public school monopoly is widely supported in demanding yet more money while delivering an inferior product.
The SAT and ACT college entrance exams have also quietly inflated their scores but they still serve as a useful tool for colleges in the admissions process. They prevent gaming of the system by grade inflation and help colleges identify students likely to be successful. Meanwhile, worthy but overlooked students are provided a pathway to proving themselves..
But this month, the University of California system announced it will no longer consider the SAT or ACT in their admissions process on the basis that they employ “racist metrics“. Over half of American four-year colleges and universities also have dismissed these tests as requirements for the incoming class in 2021.
The truth is these tests have been thoroughly scrubbed for bias. They’re not racist in any honest sense of the term except that they produce differing results for racial groups. Biased testing is not the explanation, which more likely lies in unequal opportunity and effort among the groups.
For example, Asian-American students spend 13 hours per week on homework according to a UCSD study. White students spend 5.5 hours weekly, Hispanic and black students less. Asian-American parents tend to be more education-oriented and stress the value of hard work.
However, high-end charter schools have shown that children of all races can learn when given the encouragement and rigorous instruction necessary. The mainstream response to these successes has been not emulation but attempts to shut them down or at least limit their growth.
Far from focusing on pathways to success, many public school systems are now promoting the notion that achievement itself is racist. Math instruction is considered to be biased against minorities because of its insistence on one right answer. “Show me your work“ is white. No, really.
Oregon and California are among states developing courses for teaching “equitable math instruction.“ Worse, many public schools are starting to teach outright racial hate. Critical Race Theory has likely come to a school near you, without bothering to notify parents.
This is the notion that racism and slavery were the founding principles of America. White people alone are inherently, incurably racist. They must own their racism rather than deny it or advocate racial equality, which only proves their guilt.
We are facing an uncertain future if we continue to produce an uneducated, polarized citizenry. The ray of hope may lie with parents made newly aware during the Covid epidemic.
Reports are growing of concerned parent groups rising up around the country to protest the academic failings and intolerant teaching prevalent in our public schools. May their tribe increase.Published in Education, Education
Gee, I don’t know about that. I bet a lot of native-born Americans couldn’t pass the test. Speaking of which, here are the questions. No fair peeking at the answers!
That would be nice, but I suspect that most of the home-schooling-etc parents will be more than happy to return control of their children to the government schools, at the earliest opportunity.
If you get to Tom Patterson’s third paragraph: “Yet only one of three American adults can achieve the 60% pass rate.”
I blame people who use phraseology like “Freshpersons”, even ironically.
Yeah, I got to it. I’m skeptical of the number and there’s no reference given. The more qualitative “a lot of native-born Americans couldn’t pass the test” is more in line with the level of evidence, i.e., anecdotal. The same goes for claims such as
The post has a lot of loose talk with no evidence to back it up. It’s directionally, if not literally, correct.
Circling back (see what I did there?) to this claim, it is manifestly false. According to NAEP data for 2019, the most recent year available, roughly 2/3 of fourth graders can perform at this level:
It’s fair to say that any student who can do all those things, can read. Some such students may be below the expected level of attainment for the fourth grade but they’re not illiterate. Furthermore, there has been a statistically significant improvement in achievement levels since 1992, though the improvements are small. The same applies to the grade 8 data.
This exemplifies one of the problems of punditry: ‘facts’ that reinforce the prejudices and narrative of the pundit are accepted uncritically independently of their truth value. In this instance, the narrative is woe is me, the educational system is circling the drain. While this may be true, no evidence has been put forth to support this conclusion and some of the purported facts appear to be untrue.
As someone who is tangentially involved in admissions at a well-known university, I have some understanding of this topic. The SAT has indeed been “re-centered.” The principal reason for this is that 500 is the median score for each part, by definition. As the demographics of college applicants has changed to encompass a broader spectrum of abilities (i.e., stupider students), it has been necessary to adjust the scores so the median score remains at 500.
There is no mystery or sneakiness about this. There’s a conversion table, published by the College Board, available to anyone who’s interested. Admissions committees across the land are familiar with these data. There’s nothing “quiet” about it.
How many people are on admissions committees? And how many is that compared to a population of over 300,000,000?
How many of those 300M people give a rat’s patootie about this? The notion that SAT scores are top-of-mind for the majority of Americans is an absurdity. Oh, and btw, plenty of individuals not on admissions committees are aware of this, e.g., me. SAT re-centering is of concern of a tiny fraction of the US population. One might expect the author of the OP to be among the select group of those who understand the re-centering. One is often disappointed.
Anyone who cares, knows. Okay?
A new poll shows that only a little over a third of Americans would pass a basic multiple choice U.S. citizenship test, modeled after the one taken by immigrants in the process of naturalization.
The survey, released Oct. 3  by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation with the research firm Lincoln Park Strategies, sampled 1,000 American adults. It showed that only 36 percent actually passed the test. —
In all of my years in teaching it was common knowledge among all of my colleagues, short of the administrators, that the only way to equalized the outcome of education would be to drag everyone down to the level of the lowest performing students, or, at best, to a least common denominator, a slightly higher level than the lowest. Few would admit the view outside of private conversations, but no one believed the nonsense that all could be raised to the level of the highest performing, or, even, the mid level students.
And this is what the wokes want to do, to allow no students to perform better than the least common denominator. Being smarter than other students would confer or imply privilege, and that can’t be allowed in their worldview. On the bright side, it’s not as deadly of a solution as the genocide against the wealthy and learned that was conducted by Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the late 1970s, although there’s no saying what the future might hold for America.