Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Dumbing Down America

The dumbing down of America proceeds apace. In a test of the world’s high school students, the United States did not make the top twenty. Compared to other high income countries we have the second largest percentage of children who fail to meet basic skill levels upon graduation.

The Street has the story:

The world’s top high school students are outside of the United States. According to a report commissioned by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 24% of students in the U.S. fail to meet a basic level of skills after they leave school – that’s the second-worst percentage of all high-income countries analyzed on this scale.

It does not bode well for America’s future. An undereducated population is not going to lead the nation to a bright economic future:

According to the OECD Report, “Universal Basic Skills What Countries Stand To Gain,” economic growth and social development are closely correlated to the skills of a country’s population. “Earlier research shows the causal relationship between a nation’s skills – its knowledge capital – and its long-run growth rate, making it possible to estimate how education policies affect each nation’s expected economic performance,” it notes.

How was the survey conducted? 

The OECD survey focuses on 76 countries that currently have data on school enrollment and on achievement. The country ranking is based on a triennial survey called the Program for International Student Assessment(PISA), an international assessment that measures how 15-year-old students perform in reading, mathematics, science, and problem-solving. In addition to student performance, the survey considers enrollment rates, gross domestic product (GDP) and population.

As for the top twenty nations, here they are:

1. Singapore
2. Hong Kong China
3. Korea
4. Japan
5. Chinese Taiwan
6. Finland
7. Estonia
8. Switzerland
9. Netherlands
10. Canada
11. Poland
12. Vietnam
13. Germany
14. Australia
15. Ireland
16. Belgium
17. New Zealand
18. Slovenia
19. Austria
20. United Kingdom

While American educators are bemoaning the fact that our schoolchildren work too hard, it looks as though they do not work anywhere nearly as hard as their peers around the world. It is probably not an accident that the nations that are on the top of the list are those that have Tiger Moms. I would note that no South American or Southern European nations made the list either.

The report does not affix blame, so I will not either.


A-Bax said...

What do you imagine the percentage of blacks / Hispanics / pacific islanders (i.e., australoids) are per capita in the top 20 countries? I imagine it's very low, but steadily increasing as you go from 1 to 20.

Steve Sailer talks a lot about this stuff, and one of the points he always makes is that if you control for race, the US is doing fine. US whites are comparable to European whites. What drags down "US" scores is the poor performance of your average latino, and the abysmal performance of the average black.

It isn't racism to notice the 1 SD deviation in IQ between blacks and whites, and surmise the effects in school performance therefrom. It's a form of creationist thinking to believe that the 10s of thousands of years that the European, Asian, and African homo sap populations spent apart - facing quite different selection pressures and evolving quite different physiological/cognitive responses to them - has no bearing on the present.

Thus, it's easily possible that many American kids are over-worked / over-scheduled (elite kids), while the overall US results are less than encouraging.

PS - White kids may not adapt as readily as Asian kids to the hyper-submission required to thrive under Tiger Mommery. This is noticeable in infancy:

Ares Olympus said...

So we're falling down in educating our youth, and on the other side, our middle age death rates have been climbing compared to other western countries. And we can't even blame the minorities for this statistical slide, since its the whites measured in the article below.

Is this Stuart's anomie, a failure of social cohesion caused by militant feminism, multiculturalism, a break down of gender roles and traditional religion and marriage?

It makes sense that perhaps many minorities, recognizing their lower status, might put more effort into protective family ties, and support systems, while whites, complacent in their access to the American dream, a dream that takes more discipline now than in decades past, so the fraction who fail to make it as they believe their birthright fall into despair, drugs and destructive addictive behavior.

America might be a meritocracy in some ways and a fraction will thrive when their skills match the opportunities, but in a culture where all status is fundamentally reduced to money, we're more willing than more "socialistic" countries to let our "losers" drown in their own misery, out of our view, and consider it Social Darwinism if we need to explain why we'd rather not care.

I always figure white Minnesota does better (where the women are strong, the men are good looking, and all the children are above average), because we're on average more socially cohesive, and a larger fraction of people stay close to family their whole lives. But we don't do nearly as well with minorities. Middle-Aged White Americans Are Dying of Despair: Even as longevity increases across the rich world, uneducated white Americans are living sicker and dying earlier. Two economists speculate on the reasons why.
Between 1978 to 1998, the mortality rate for U.S. whites aged 45 to 54 fell by 2 percent per year on average, which matched the average rate of decline in the six countries shown, and the average over all other industrialized countries. After 1998, other rich countries’ mortality rates continued to decline by 2 percent a year. In contrast, U.S. white non-Hispanic mortality rose by half a percent a year. No other rich country saw a similar turnaround.
The reasons for the increased death rate are not the usual things that kill Americans, like diabetes and heart disease. Rather, it’s suicide, alcohol and drug poisonings, and alcohol-related liver disease.

The least-educated are worst off: All-cause mortality among middle-aged Americans with a high-school degree or less increased by 134 deaths per 100,000 people between 1999 and 2013, but there was little change in mortality for people with some college. The death rate for the college-educated fell slightly.
Deaths from drug overdoses among people aged 45 through 64 increased 11-fold between 1990 and 2010, and nearly 90 percent of people who try heroin for the first time these days are white.
Obviously, no one can be blamed for his own addiction or depression. But the causes of death this study highlights are the kinds of things—drinking, doping, suicide—that people who feel good about their lives don’t tend to do.

So, what’s eating less-educated Boomers?
One persuasive explanation, and one the researchers put forth, is financial strain. Jobs in fields like manufacturing and construction, which were historically filled by people without college degrees, have been evaporating quickly over the past 15 years. As I’ve written previously, less-educated people are more likely to be unemployed and to make less, so they struggle to afford things like therapy, gym memberships, and recreation that isn’t drugs. Without jobs, they may lack the social networks and sense of purpose that have shown to reduce mortality.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Response to A-Bax-- I posted about another set of tests that factored in race and ethnicity. The results are available here:

priss rules said...

All those high IQ nations have low birthrates and are riddled with PC.

Japan, Taiwan, and Korea will follow EU.

I sometimes wonder if it's better to be dumb and breed a lot than smart and read a lot.

priss rules said...

Studies show that the problem isn't American education but American diversity.

If American education is so bad, it should be failing everyone.

But actually, Chinese-Americans do better than Chinese in China, German-Americans do better than Germans in Germany, Norwegian-Americans do better than Norwegians back home, Korean-Americans do better than Koreans back home, etc.