Sunday, October 30, 2022

Bring Back Standardized Testing

Recent results from the college entrance examinations called the ACT have elicited the normal amount of teeth-gnashing and hand-wringing.

Happily for us we know that the fault lies in the public school system,  mostly with those schools that followed the Siren Song of the teachers’ unions and deprived vast numbers of American schoolchildren of their education and their cognitive development.

We are an optimistic sort, so we believe that just a little tutoring and some remedial math will make it all better. It’s a soul-soothing thought, befitting a nation that has overdosed on unearned praise, that is, on self-esteem.

To which Michael Bloomberg has responded on his eponymous website, to the effect that America’s schoolchildren had been losing ground for years, and that it will be far more difficult to get them to a level where they can compete in world markets than any of us image. He adds a coda, to the effect that our poorly trained and inadequately educated younger generation is simply not ready for prime time. That means, all the high minded confidence and empty praise, all of the mania about diversity and equity has destroyed the mind of America’s youth.

Now, colleges and universities understand full well that if they admit students on the basis of test scores, that is, on the basis of merit, they will not have a class competition that reflects the composition of the population. Where anyone got that absurd idea, I do not know, but it is beyond stupid. If the outcomes are predetermined, the game has been rigged, and you are sending out a team of self-important mediocrities to compete against the best the world has to offer. How much to you want to wager on our chances.

So, if you don’t like the test scores, you do what any woke radical does-- ban the tests. At that point, no one will have systematically better test scores. Problem solved?

Bloomberg writes:

 The crisis in US K-12 public education continues to deepen, and decisions by many colleges and universities to abandon SAT and ACT scores are making it worse. Instead of demanding more accountability from high schools, colleges are expecting less.

He continues to point out that the test scores have been declining for years now:

Average ACT scores have declined every year since 2018, while the share of students failing to meet college readiness standards in any of its four subject areas — English, math, reading and science — has increased by 7 percentage points. With the exception of Asian students, teens of every race perform worse now than they did five years ago.

If you think that this cohort is going to onshore industry and manufacturing, you are not factoring in our lack of human capital.

But our educational system has found a solution-- it ignores the problem. Considering how much money we have poured into racial and sexual equity programs, we are not surprised. And we are not surprised that administrators are incapable of accepting that they have failed. Universities are certainly incapable of seeing that they should fire most of their bureaucrats and hire more STEM teachers.

The fact is: The US public school system is failing to prepare most students for college and careers, and the problem is getting worse. Yet colleges and universities are pretending not to notice. 

Since 2020, the number of schools that have stopped requiring applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores has nearly doubled to more than 1,800, including many of the country’s most selective colleges. As a result, fewer students are bothering to sit for the exams at all. Since 2018, the number of seniors taking the ACT has dropped by nearly 30%, even as overall college applications increased.

It’s almost as though we were to say that if you believe strongly enough that you were born in the wrong body, you were born in the wrong body. Thinking makes it so.

Bloomberg wants to return to standardized testing. An excellent idea, one that is not very likely to  be adopted by the woke educational establishment:

The failings of America’s education system threaten the country’s future as a global leader. In an economy that is more competitive and skills-based than ever, to walk away from standards is to limit students’ career opportunities and leave far too many dependent on government to make ends meet — or, tragically, enticed into criminal activities.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If memory serves me, it was either 1973 or 1974 that for the first time in history the entire group of test takers sitting for the California Bar Exam in Sacramento failed to pass the Ethics portion of the bar exam!