Friday, June 15, 2018

More On Educational Egalitarianism

Speaking of misplaced egalitarianism in eduction....

The University of Chicago, considered in most circles to be a pretty elite school, has declared that they will no longer require applicants to submit ACT/SAT scores as part of the admission process. They are not the first university to do so but they certainly are the most prominent and prestigious. What is their stated reason?

The university’s initiative, announced Thursday, “levels the playing field” for first-generation and low-income students, said James G. Nondorf, dean of admissions and vice president of enrollment and student advancement.

“Some students are good testers, some students are not,” Mr. Nondorf said. “We want to remove any policy or program that we have that advantages one group of students over the other.”

This is one of those times when you have to read what is meant rather than what is said. What does that actually mean? What is the real impetus behind this given very real concerns about grade inflation? You have to read down quite a bit further in the article to find out the real driver as stated by Robert Schaeffer who is the "public education director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing"....

Mr. Schaeffer said research shows that when schools go test-optional, they increase diversity by race, geography and first-generation students.

“It encourages more kids with real talent to think about applying,” he said.

In other words, we aren't getting the student demographics we want so we will just rig the system. When James Nondorf says that "some" people are not good test takers, what he really means is that black students are not good test takers. The U.S. Department of Education reports the drastic difference in SAT scores by race.


Look at the differences in math scores. White college bound high school seniors scored an average of 534 in math. Asians were even higher at 598. On the other hand Hispanic students scored 457 in math and black students scored even lower with a 428. The results are similar in critical reading with whites scoring 529, Asians scoring 525, Hispanics scoring around 448 and blacks again scoring the lowest among all races and ethnicities with an average score of 431. You might claim that this is due to "cultural bias", which doesn't explain why Asians still score so highly, or that black students are less prepared for college through no fault of their own, but as we see below the outcomes for college by race is reflective of what the entrance test scores show, namely that there is an enormous gap in aptitude as measured by the SAT/ACT as well in achievement as measured by graduation rates. The bottom line is that the University of Chicago wants to virtue signal by increasing their black and Hispanic admissions but doesn't seem to have much concern about whether those minority students graduate. For sure standardized tests are not the end all and be all. I scored in the very top on the ACT test but I was a mediocre high school and college student because I was lazy and had learned early on how to get by on raw intelligence rather than effort. That is why testing is only one factor in college admissions but it is the one factor that is the same across the country. An Asian student in a suburb of San Francisco takes the same test as a black student in Baltimore or a Hispanic student in Phoenix. How else can you compare a student with a 3.75 GPA at a highly competitive high school to a student with a 3.75 GPA at a failing school?

This is going on in high schools as well. In a recent editorial Pat Buchanan brought up how this anti-testing movement is playing out in New York, Is Mayor de Blasio an Anti-Asian Bigot?. The far-left mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, is pushing to get rid of the tests used in part to determine entrance for New York City's most elite schools. What is the problem with the tests? The same as above: the demographic result is not what they want:

At Stuyvesant, The Wall Street Journal writes, “2.8 percent of students are Latino and 0.69 percent are black. But 72.9 percent are Asian-American.”

This is a problem because "Black and Hispanic students make up nearly 70 percent of the city’s public school students". Since the Left holds as religious dogma the unscientific notion that environment is the single and only factor is determining outcome, rather than any inherent ability, the assumption is that if you take a less qualified black or Hispanic student and put them into an elite school, they will magically become elite students. In reality what happens is more qualified Asian and white students will be consigned to non-elite schools and the elite schools like Stuyvesant will become less elite and more like the rest of the NYC schools. That is liberalism in a nutshell, everyone shares equally in mediocrity and misery.

This is the practical manifestation of another Leftist religious dogma: diversity is an unqualified good. More diverse is good, less diverse is evil. In education this means more blacks and Hispanics in college at the expense of whites and Asians. This raises a question. Let me bring back one of my favorite charts about college, graduation rates after six years by race:

So right now, in our insufficiently diverse university system, well over half of black college students don't complete their degree after six years. So our priority is to get even more black students into college classrooms. Are we supposed to assume that by lowering admission standards we are going to improve results? There is no benefit to starting college and failing to finish. In all seriousness, we cannot be far away from calls to have different grading scales and standards for Asian and white students versus for black students. The real goal is not equality of opportunity, that was just a stepping stone. The real goal is equality of outcome by any means necessary. Let's hope that medical schools don't do away with the MCAT. If I am on an operating table I want the best doctor to care for me, not the most diverse.

We all want everyone to have an equal opportunity to succeed. What that doesn't mean is guaranteeing equality of outcome. It doesn't mean pushing a four year degree as the only path to success. It doesn't mean gaming the system to get a desired demographic result in the name of "diversity". It doesn't mean holding back or punishing more deserving students because they are the "wrong" race or ethnicity. Getting rid of testing is just another way to game the system to get a desired outcome, regardless of whether that outcome is fair or in the best interest of students and society.

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