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Author Topic: SAT scores  (Read 1148 times)
bb113
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April 30, 2012, 05:07:51 AM
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_Party_Caucus

This is the payoff for forty years of wishful escapism and deliberate dumbing down. Enjoy it, it won't be fixed and by the time it could be it really won't matter any more, they made you world-class losers and you loved it the whole way.

That's quite a map, the whole southern perimeter could be labeled "States To Avoid" or maybe "The Bumpkin Belt".

Evidently the U.S. isn't doing so hot in the measurable and quantifiable either.

SAT Scores Fall Nationwide: A Harbinger of U.S. Economic Decline
http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/09/15/sat-scores-fall-nationwide-a-harbinger-of-u-s-economic-decline/

Falling SAT Scores, Widening Achievement Gap
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/09/falling-sat-scores-widening-achievement-gap/245176/


Why do you put stock in standardized test scores?

Do you have any evidence that one shouldn't? I'm not here to do your homework for you, but a few things that come to mind are proven positive correlation with lifetime earning ability and state measures of wealth and income, negative correlation with prison population percentages by state, and a recent history of improvement in the SAT tests themselves.

The latter is significant, during the 80s and 90s the SATs actually were made less difficult because top schools were not seeing the high scores they once did and did not want to lower their visible thresholds for admission so they successfully applied pressure to the Educational Testing Service to tweak the numbers upwards. In the last decade increasing complaints from all schools about the reduced screening effectiveness of the test led to a restructuring of the tests, for example, testing writing abilities.

Considering the period when the SATs were "dumbed down" so Harvard and others could look good, the 40 year decline in performance described in the articles above is actually worse than the score data would indicate. One might also wonder how much denialism about the validity of the tests impacted student performance, if Joe Know-Nothing's kids picked up the message that they didn't need to perform on no steenking SAT tests because the tests were not meaningful, pressure to perform in the areas the tests measure may have been removed.



You're on an incorrect thread of causality. Success on the SATs has virtually nothing to do with intelligence; it's about half information regurgitation and half test-taking skills. Scores have declined over the years because a fair portion of the public has realized that standardized tests are no measure of future success and has stopped treating them as such. The fact that people who do well on their SATs are more likely to succeed is irrelevant; simply doing well on the SAT has a significant effect on college admissions, scholarships, and the like - enough to skew percentages that the ETS will no doubt use to persuade people of the validity of its test. I'm not disagreeing with the claim that education in the States is getting worse - nor am I agreeing with it - but in any case SAT scores are no valid proof of anything except the willingness of the public to accept far too much at face value.
Tl/dr: One guy thinks SAT scores mean something with regards to ability to get shit done and contribute to society, others question this idea.



1) Perhaps SAT measures nothing more than literacy, but because college admissions uses the scores as a metric, the people who score high get to go to uni and meet people from wealthy families thus putting them on track to be wealthier, etc. This could occur regardless of what SAT measures.

2) How are these state-wide and nationwide scores calculated? Has the number of students taking the test gone up in certain populations of people who may have various reasons to score low? Perhaps as the test became more popular more and more schools began administering it. At a certain point only the lowest common denominator schools are left to join in.

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April 30, 2012, 05:16:04 AM
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The latter is significant, during the 80s and 90s the SATs actually were made less difficult because top schools were not seeing the high scores they once did and did not want to lower their visible thresholds for admission so they successfully applied pressure to the Educational Testing Service to tweak the numbers upwards. In the last decade increasing complaints from all schools about the reduced screening effectiveness of the test led to a restructuring of the tests, for example, testing writing abilities.

Maybe the alumnis complained that their kids didn't get to go to harvard/yale, and the way the school administrators decided to deal with the perceived inequality of letting them in anyway was to get the difficulty lowered. Then once that catastrophe was avoided, they went on to try to change the tests (for better or worse). Writing ability is probably much more environmentally influenced than any innate intelligence or ability to achieve.
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May 01, 2012, 05:46:40 PM
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Quote
snip...

1) Perhaps SAT measures nothing more than literacy, but because college admissions uses the scores as a metric, the people who score high get to go to uni and meet people from wealthy families thus putting them on track to be wealthier, etc. This could occur regardless of what SAT measures.


2) How are these state-wide and nationwide scores calculated? Has the number of students taking the test gone up in certain populations of people who may have various reasons to score low? Perhaps as the test became more popular more and more schools began administering it. At a certain point only the lowest common denominator schools are left to join in.



#1- In short, yes, but generally by coincidence. A student's SAT scores generally correlate with their high school GPA and difficulty of taken classes, so, in most cases, whatever the student's SAT scores show colleges and universities could be communicated just as well by their high school transcript.
#2- It's deviation from average, much like an IQ score. I can't remember the exact processes involved or score scaling, but it's adjusted annually to maintain a national norm. And you're right about your last few points, though I doubt anyone has a reason to NOT do well on the SAT.

From my personal experience the SAT shows little more than the basic education covered by grades 1-12. It's broken up into three sections, reading, math, and writing. Here's what each test entails:
Reading: How well you can interpret awkward passages, often excerpts from novels that have no background info given. Also includes knowing what various words mean. Unless you have a fifth grade reading level, you shouldn't get less than a 550.
Math: Basic math, with few problems more advanced than geometry. Definitely falls in the information regurgitation category.
Writing: This is a "personal" essay section, where you write about something you probably don't give a damn about. Colleges generally ignore this section unless a tiebreaker is needed.

The SAT says nothing about the student's character, giving only a vague rating of academic potential. nothing is said about their personality, history of mental health/stability, or leadership ability.

At the very best, this test separates college candidates into three groups; yes, maybe, and hellz-to-the-no. Sure, it's useful, but the student's transcript and references ought to do the same thing.

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May 01, 2012, 11:11:08 PM
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I know a few people who tried to do worse than the monkey, one of them sent the scores to yale and got a letter back saying they would consider his application but tuition would be $100k/year or something like that.
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