“Ignorance is not a cultural identity to celebrate. “

From meteorologist Dr Dan Satterfield, from his blog post, “The Real Reason U.S. SAT Test Scores Keep Dropping“:

Far too many Americans just don’t think education is important.

They may claim they do, but when a state gives 250 million dollars to a basketball team to build a stadium, while its cuts education by 300 million, then actions speak far louder than words.(The Governor who did it never finished college). Ask yourself how often you’ve heard someone say something like, “I just never got math” or “physics confused me”, or “thankfully I made it through algebra by sheer luck!”. When someone says something like this to me, I want to say, “how did you do in phonics? Was punctuation as difficult?” Then again I also want to say something like “I know what you mean! just never understood that school spirit thing, and why did we take an hour off on Friday to cheer people who ran around with a ball under the flood lights? I just never got why that was more important than learning math and science.”

When Sagan wrote the words above, it was Dumb and Dumber. Now, it’s Fat Guys in the Woods on the Weather Channel.

That’s from Carl Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World.

And, the above, from an interview with Susan Jacoby regarding her book The Age of American Unreason: “I don’t feel very optimistic.”

Update, Monday, 7th September 2015

A good friend, Dr James Weinberg, provided the following additional details regarding the study which prompted Dan Satterfield to write the blog post:

Combined SAT Score, and Changes Since 2006, by Race/Ethnicity
Group Combined Score 2015 Change Since 2006
American Indian 1423 -27
Asian-American 1654 +54
Black 1277 -14
Mexican-American 1343 -28
Puerto Rican 1347 -16
Other Hispanic 1345 -26
White 1576 -6

That original source also reports:

According to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, a critic of the SAT, 27 colleges and universities have dropped ACT/SAT requirements in the last year — more than have dropped in any other 12-month period. And about 40 colleges have ended requirements since the College Board announced a revamping of the SAT. That figure is notable in that the last time the College Board was working on a new SAT, relatively few colleges made decisions to drop the requirement, seeming then to prefer to wait for the new test.

Much of the criticism from colleges has been about fears that the SAT scores seem to reflect family income, and that, on average, black and Latino students receive significantly lower scores than white and Asian students do.

Clearly sensitive to these issues, the College Board webinar for reporters started with David Coleman, the organization’s president, saying that “we need fewer tests that do more.” He also said he favors tests that do not hold people back but that “deliver opportunities for students.” Coleman argued that the College Board’s tests do so — with the PSAT and SAT helping students obtain scholarships and the Advanced Placement program helping students obtain college credit

But despite these efforts, the pattern with regard to family income remained the same. In each of the three parts of the SAT, the lowest average scores were those with less than $20,000 in family income, and the highest averages were those with more than $200,000 in income, and the gaps are significant. In reading, for example, the average for those with family income below $20,000 is 433, while the average for those with income of above $200,000 is 570.

The figures on race and ethnicity also show large and growing gaps. These gaps could become particularly troublesome for colleges that rely on the SAT (and for the College Board) if the U.S. Supreme Court sets new limits or restrictions on the consideration of race in admissions, as justices could do in a case they will consider in the forthcoming term. One reason given by many colleges that have gone SAT optional is that they are uncertain about the value of the SAT in evaluating black and Latino applicants.

The source at Inside for Higher Education also breaks out the Mathematics, Critical Reading, and Writing components:

Mean SAT Scores by Race/Ethnicity
Group Critical Reading Mathematics Writing
American Indian 481 482 460
Asian-American 525 598 531
Black 431 428 418
Mexican-American 448 457 438
Puerto Rican 456 449 442
Other Hispanic 449 457 439
White 529 534 513

By the way …

Once again I am participating in Dana-Farber Jimmy Fund Walk with Team Andrew Weinberg. This year I am walking longer, starting from Wellesley College, and meeting up with James and the rest of Team Andrew Weinberg at Boston College. The map of the course is shown below. It is coincident with the Boston Marathon route.
Please seriously consider supporting my walk by donating generously here.

About hypergeometric

See http://www.linkedin.com/in/deepdevelopment/ and http://667-per-cm.net
This entry was posted in Carl Sagan, citizenship, civilization, Dan Satterfield, economics, education, humanism, ignorance, mathematics education, rationality, reasonableness, risk, science education, sociology, Susan Jacoby and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to “Ignorance is not a cultural identity to celebrate. “

  1. Pingback: The 2015 edition of the Jimmy Fund Walk, Team Andrew Weinberg | Hypergeometric

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