March 25, 2010

What have we learned?

I've been following education statistics since the summer before my freshman year in high school when I started preparing for the 1972-73 debate topic:
Resolved: That governmental financial support for all public and secondary education in the United States be provided exclusively by the federal government.

What has been learned over those 38 years?

By way of contrast, I'd like to cite what Bill James learned about baseball in his first dozen years of statistical research:
A Bill James Primer
Extracted from The Bill James Baseball Abstract 1988

"What I wanted to write about... is a very basic question. Of all the studies I have done over the last 12 years, what have I learned? What is the relevance of sabermetric knowledge to the decision making process of a team? If I were employed by a major-league team, what are the basic things that I know from the research I have done which would be of use to me in helping that team?"

1. Minor league batting statistics will predict major league batting performance with essentially the same reliability as previous major league statistics.
2. Talent in baseball is not normally distributed. It is a pyramid. For every player who is 10 percent above the average player, there are probably twenty players who are 10 pecent below average.
3. What a player hits in one ballpark may be radically different from what he would hit in another.
4. Ballplayers, as a group, reach their peak value much earlier and decline much more rapidly than people believe.
5. Players taken in the June draft coming out of college (or with at least two years of college) perform dramatically better than players drafted out of high school.
6. The chance of getting a good player with a high draft pick is substantial enough that it is clearly a disastrous strategy to give up a first round draft choice to sign a mediocre free agent. (see note #1)
7. A power pitcher has a dramatically higher expectation for future wins than does a finesse pitcher of the same age and ability.
8. Single season won-lost records have almost no value as an indicator of a pitcher's contribution to a team.
9. The largest variable determining how many runs a team will score is how many times they get their leadoff man on base.
10. A great deal of what is perceived as being pitching is in fact defense.
11. True shortage of talent almost never occurs at the left end of the defensive spectrum. (see note #2)
12. Rightward shifts along the defensive spectrum almost never work. (see note #2)
13. Our idea of what makes a team good on artificial turf is not supported by any research.
14. When a team improves sharply one season they will almost always decline in the next.
15. The platoon differential is real and virtually universal

Notes:

1. Major league teams still must surrender choices in the amateur draft in exchange for signing free agents.
2. The defensive spectrum looks like this:
[ - - 1B - LF - RF - 3B - CF - 2B - SS - C - - ]
with the basic premise being that positions at the right end of the spectrum are more difficult than the positions at the left end of the spectrum. Players can generally move from right to left along the specturm successfully during their careers.

It took James another decade and a half to get that baseball job he was advertising for here, but this was pretty decent start.

So, what have we learned from school statistics?

The overwhelming finding, going back to James S. Coleman's 1966 report funded by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, is that race matters in school performance. Persistently large racial gaps are the single most obvious fact about educational performance.

But making the racial gaps go away is also the highest priority of educational research, which debilitates the research. Wishful thinking is preferred.

But, once we adjust for race, what have we learned over the years about what works in education? Can we make up a list for education research like James made up for baseball?

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

49 comments:

RandyB said...

I think Charles Murray has learned, or at least claimed to, is that except for about 10% of failing schools,

Education Success of Children =
F(Education Level of the Parents in the Community)

And there just isn't much any school does to escape this.

HBD is the elephant in the classroom.

John said...

I don't know much about math, but what does "average" mean in this context:

Talent in baseball is not normally distributed. It is a pyramid. For every player who is 10 percent above the average player, there are probably twenty players who are 10 pecent below average.

Wouldn't that depress the average, such that the better players would be greater than 10 percent above the average (and the worse less than 10 percent below)?

Anonymous said...

Resolved: That governmental financial support for all public and
secondary education in the United States be provided exclusively by
the federal government.


What was it anyway about the National Forensic League and its weird taste for totalitarian debate topics?

Two years later the resolution was that "campaign funds for all federal elective offices be provided exclusively by the federal government", and the following year: "resolved, that the development and allocation of scarce world resources should be controlled by an international organization". (At least that's what they were in my part of the country.)

I don't recall more than a few "negative" teams opposing the resolution on grounds of principle. The arguments turned almost exclusively on practical matters having to do with the difficulty of implementation.

Anonymous said...

I'll be back with citations, but I want to put down a marker now.

1. Teaching methods / curricula do matter, especially for basic 3-R's stuff.

2. Tracking works for kids, but agitators and many parents don't like it because it reveals differences in students' innate abilities.

3. We can't change kids' IQ's, but IQ predicts average and maximum student attainment better than other characteristics.

4. Because different races display different IQ mean and SD but not (very) different (shape of) distributions, effective education (e.g., educating each student "up to his potential") is simply irreconcilable with "closing the racial gap." We have no problem educating kids of similar IQ's to similar levels of attainment, but if we do, the proportion of kids by race at each level of attainment will vary from the overall racial proportions of the general population.

Anonymous said...

Tracking works. No matter the standards-based curriculm set by NCLB, the daily functioning of the real classroom, with teachers trying to reach three levels of students (call them far below grade level, near grade level, far above grade level)works for none of them most of the time. The non-tracked classroom in a school that is highly diverse in achievement gaps also results not only in frustrated students who can't learn the material, it also produces bored students who find the whole system a joke. This ultimately results in behavioral problems that cross the range of students.

John Seiler said...

No. 1 factor: The more federal involvement, the faster the decline in educational quality.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

Is gene therapy the key to equalizing the races?

Thucydides said...

I would say 'no' because baseball is played under conditions that more closely resemble a controlled experiment, while education is dependent on too many variables outside the classroom which are difficult if not impossible to control.

Part of James' excellence lies in the way he identified useless variables and excluded them from consideration. For example, traditional scouts would often gush over a player's "look" - a big, strapping farm boy who threw 95 always got good reviews, while an unassuming physical specimen who threw in the high 80s would be lucky to get a tryout. And yet Greg Maddux was a better pitcher than Nolan Ryan. James was able to point this out by insisting that we look at performance on the field.

Is there an equivalent to "performance on the field" in education? In baseball, we have easily identifiable facts - wins and losses and statistical accounts of what a player did in the game. It's not impossible to imagine we could extract from the latter a player's contribution to the former. More important, there is very little question of causal agency here: if a player got a hit, he got a hit.

In education, causal agency is much less clear. Part of what goes on in "learning" involves processes internal to each student. Part of it involves processes external to both student and teacher (home environment is the classic example, but we could include genetic makeup, since this is, as a matter of conscious control, beyond the student). Sometimes the causal agency is delayed - we've probably all had something like the experience of seeing many years after the fact what a particular teacher was trying to show us.

The comparison with baseball stats gets interesting when we consider the different situations with regard to causal agency. We can determine with fair precision a player's impact on the outcome of a game; with more statistical work we can determine his impact on the outcome of a season and even over the course of his career. The difficulty lies in piecing out the credit which belongs to the other causal agents (i.e., his teammates - something James tries to do with "Win Shares"). As the amount of credit due to others increases, it becomes harder to identify the single player's contribution.

In education, it seems that our precision comes in reverse. With individual students it's almost impossible to determine how much learning is due to the teacher. But when we look at all the students over a teacher's "career" we get a clearer picture of the teacher's impact. We still can't control the variables as we can when considering a baseball game, but we have a mass of data around one largely controlled variable.

But we're always going to have this problem: in baseball good and bad results aren't essentially controversial. Winning is good, losing is bad; getting on base is good, making an out is bad. Can we reduce educational outcomes to uncontroversial determinations of good and bad? I doubt it.

Thrasymachus said...

Little of what goes on in public schools can be called education. I went to "good", well-financed, suburban public schools with mostly white students and I learned very little. I could already read when I got there; I learned some math but that was about it. Most of my knowledge came from the encyclopedia. What we call "education" mainly has to do with socializing children. Knowledge attained in the process is incidental.

jody said...

as for education, the only hard and fast rule i know for sure is this: east asian students are the best students on average.

jody said...

"8. Single season won-lost records have almost no value as an indicator of a pitcher's contribution to a team."

i hate baseball, but i realized point 8 decades ago. i'm not sure why baseball people continue to put so much weight on a pitcher's won-lost record. the 20 game winner is still the benchmark, when a guy that only "won" 14 games could be a lot better.

"2. The defensive spectrum looks like this:
[ - - 1B - LF - RF - 3B - CF - 2B - SS - C - - ]"

is catcher really that difficult, and is this the main reason why there are almost zero (there might actually be zero) black american catchers in MLB? there might be zero african catchers from anywhere. i don't remember seeing one in 30 years.

i always explained the near total absence of black americans at catcher as yet another thing that blacks were not interested in, but maybe they actually aren't good enough on average. certainly better to be a catcher, than to not play at all? my thinking is the same for kicker and punter in the NFL, but perhaps their ability to kick is also, in true reality, way below where it needs to be on average.

Anonymous said...

We have learned Steve Sailer is a baseball geek.

OneSTDV said...

I once again point to my favorite graph:

http://www.heritage.org/static/reportimages/796DF8C7C231CFFE366308277E88CF57.gif

I think that says it all.

Anonymous said...

An excellent (conservative) documentary on NJ's school system is playing in LA in a few weeks. Bring a pencil and notepad cause you'll want to take notes:

http://www.laemmle.com/viewmovie.php?mid=5656

Jim O said...

Tryin' to think of a catcher who moved to shortstop..... hmmm....

RGH said...

According to research by Benjamin Bloom, "Students working with individual human tutors reach achievement levels as much as two standard deviations higher than students in conventional instruction (that is, 50% of tutored students score higher than 98% of the comparison group)." Cited from here:http://www.springerlink.com/content/h6wvchfgg0u9pdjl/

The myth is that tutoring is more expensive than traditional schooling. The fact is that for many kids (my own for example) one hour of tutoring per week is more effective than five hours of traditional classroom instruction. That makes it much less expensive to hire a tutor than the $8000 per student my state spends on education each year.

Average Joe said...

Actually I don't think that making the racial gap go away is a priority for many in this country. The racial gap has been used by some as evidence that white gentiles are oppressing blacks and Hispanics. Therefore maintaining the racial gap serves the political agenda of these people which is to demonize white gentiles as much as possible. Interestingly the fact that Ashkenazi Jews and northeast Asians outperform most white gentiles on IQ tests and academically is never taken as evidence that these groups are oppressing white gentiles. In the politically-correct, multicultural worldview white gentiles can only be oppressors, never the oppressed

rob said...

Some of you, especially Lucius Vorenus, will fing this interesting.

----In an article published in 2005, Patricia Clark Kenschaft, a professor of mathematics at Montclair State University, described her experiences of going into elementary schools and talking with teachers about math. In one visit to a K-6 elementary school in New Jersey she discovered that not a single teacher, out of the fifty that she met with, knew how to find the area of a rectangle.[2] They taught multiplication, but none of them knew that multiplication is used to find the area of a rectangle. Their most common guess was that you add the length and the width to get the area. Their excuse for not knowing was that they did not need to teach about areas of rectangles; that came later in the curriculum. But the fact that they couldn't figure out that multiplication is used to find the area was evidence to Kenschaft that they didn't really know what multiplication is or what it is for. She also found that although the teachers knew and taught the algorithm for multiplying one two-digit number by another, none of them could explain why that algorithm works.

The school that Kenschaft visited happened to be in a very poor district, with mostly African American kids, so at first she figured that the worst teachers must have been assigned to that school, and she theorized that this was why African Americans do even more poorly than white Americans on math tests. But then she went into some schools in wealthy districts, with mostly white kids, and found that the mathematics knowledge of teachers there was equally pathetic. She concluded that nobody could be learning much math in school and, "It appears that the higher scores of the affluent districts are not due to superior teaching but to the supplementary informal ‘home schooling' of children.-----

It does seem that below a certain level of intelligence, people do not understand math. They can recite and sometimes apply formulae correctly. Figuring out which formula to apply, much less understanding or creating one, is beyond them.

From: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201003/when-less-is-more-the-case-teaching-less-math-in-schools

Hipparchus said...

We've learned that nearly all kids of 80+ IQ can acquire basic reading skills (the ability to read and pronounce most words, even those which the reader does not comprehend), but that a large fraction of them will achieve this competence only if given suitable instruction in the first few years (say, ages 5-8). Most US public schools do not supply suitable instruction.

In the late 1930's American teachers and their trainers decided to use ineffective methods to teach reading. This was broadly exposed in 1955 by Rudolf Flesch, in his book "Why Johnny Can't Read." Though ineffective these methods were much easier on teachers. (NB: American basic reading went to hell long before the 1965 National Suicide (Immigration) Act, and long before the 1964 Civil Rights Act, most busing, and Nixon's "affirmative action.") In accordance with "public choice (economics) theory," the teachers preferred what was easy for them, no matter what it did to others. Teachers are not rewarded for teaching well. They are only rewarded for seniority, for useless "credentials" like masters degrees, and for administrative or union chores. So they do not care very much whether their methods work. Worse, proper methods have been demonized as "right wing" by Left-leaning education professors and teacher-union leaders, so teachers now regard attempts to promote proper methods as a form of political oppression.

Although many academic and governmental studies over the decades confirmed Flesch's analysis and prescription, the American teaching establishment persisted in its selfish refusal to apply effective methods. Some states tried changing their laws to call for proper methods but that had no effect as the public teaching establishment.

Attempts to tie school funding to reading progress mostly failed because politically-indoctrinated teachers would simply apply more of the same ineffective "whole language" lessons which independent research had shown to be useless. Even an administrator willing to defy the teachers union couldn't change teacher incentives anyway-- teachers have tenure in most states. Just as Hollywood will only make "liberal" films regardless of box-office considerations, for decades now public-school teachers have refused to apply "right wing" reading methods regardless of their effectiveness.

Only in the last decade, as a result of one of the few useful parts of George W. Bush's "education" program-- the "Reading First" program (since canceled), have a few public school systems adopted effective teaching methods. Those which did so boosted their students reading ability quite a bit, as seen in NAEP results.

We know how to improve reading performance. "We" don't do so because of teaching establishment intransigence.

Note: basic and advanced reading are two different issues. Once children learn basic reading, whether they will read for pleasure, acquire large vocabularies, etc. depends very much on their IQ's and somewhat on the cultural milieu they inhabit. Even perfect basic reading instruction will not turn an 85 IQ kid into a Caltech admission prospect. It will, however, enable that 85 IQ kid to read traffic signs, event posters, tool instruction books, romance novels (if she wants to), and lots of other things.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

The Lefties are catching on:

http://www.colorlines.com/article.php?ID=542

Obama's Southern Problem—And Ours
By Alec Dubro

"In the midst of the great Obama victory last November, an overwhelming percentage of white voters in the states of the former Confederacy rejected the first Black president, even as many of them voted down ballot for Democrats....

"Overall, Obama won 46 percent of white women and 41 percent of white men, but not in the South, which, according to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, is “moving contrary to the rest of the country.”

There is considerable variation in the percentage of whites who voted for Obama. Where African Americans made up less than 20% of the vote (according to exit polls), whites varied from 30% to 60% in their support for Obama but with no relationship to the size of the African American vote. As the African American electorate rose above 20%, white support for Obama fell sharply to barely 10%.

In other words, to know them is to fear them. This is, to say the least, not good."

Anonymous said...

"Is gene therapy the key to equalizing the races?"


Nah, birth control.

Lucius Vorenus said...

It does seem that below a certain level of intelligence, people do not understand math. They can recite and sometimes apply formulae correctly. Figuring out which formula to apply, much less understanding or creating one, is beyond them.

Thank you.

Jeff said...

I second what rob said. Whenever public schools don't perform, the teachers always blame "lack of parental involvement."

When they say that, they are admitting that "informal home schooling" is the key to educational achievement and not the schools.

Anonymous said...

Steve, a bit of a followup to the census issue you mentioned last week. I just got an mass email from my university's registrar office:

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued revised federal guidelines with regard to the standards for the classifications of federal data on race and ethnicity. The race and ethnicity data is used for reporting purposes when asked by Federal and state governments, and national surveys, to describe the racial/ethnic background of our students and employees.

... blah blah ... no later than April 14, 2010, please log in to review and/or update your race/ethnicity information.... Please answer the two questions presented or simply verify that your information is correct as shown.


So I logged in. The two questions were:

1) Are you Hispanic or Latino?
Yes
No

2) What is your race? Select one or more.
American Indian or Alaska Native
Asian
Black or African American
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
White


They were already answered (correctly) as No and White, respectively. I'm not sure where they got the information from, though maybe it was on a paper form I filled in when applying for admission a few years ago.

So... is there any reason to change the answers? I'm graduating in May.

Black Sea said...

#1: Students who work hard at a subject generally do so because they like the subject, and they generally like the subject because they are good at the subject. It is therefore difficult (and often fruitless) to urge weak students to work hard at a subject they know they are not good at.

#2: It is impossible to generate an interest among students in a subject they are not equipped to understand.

#3: The level of instruction in a given course shouldn't necessarily be aimed at the very brightest students in the class, but gearing instruction and assignments toward the abilities of those at the threshold between the top and second quartiles of the class is probably about right.

#4: If you can't learn to read, write, add, subtract, multiply, and divide by the sixth grade, you won't have learned to by the eight grade, nor by the twelth grade either.

#5: Somewhere around 12 percent of the American student population is genuinely equipped to do university-level work. And out of this population, some will fail or barely scrape by due to factors beyond their intelligence or educational preparation.

#6: The shortcomings and wasteful expenditures of our educational system result not from lack of understanding about how students learn, but rather from political and social pressures which we dare not refuse.

Steve Setzer said...

Re: Bloom's research

In the research cited by Bloom, the tutored kids and the classroom kids both received 11 instructional periods over a 3 week period.

The 2 Sigma Problem

So yeah, a kid getting one-on-one tutoring for 11 hours will do better than a kid getting 30-on-one teaching for 11 hours. If we spent 30 times as much money on teachers, we could raise everyone's performance by two (current) standard deviations.

Is that worth it? Maybe it is. What would be the economic impact if over half of Americans performed like geniuses, and 95% were above the current average?

Steve Setzer said...

Re: Cost of tutoring

Continuing with the cost of tutoring. If 30x for huge improvement is too expensive, then what about RGH's assertion that 1 hour of tutoring equals about 5 hours of classroom instruction?

Today, one teacher teaches 30 kids * 30 hours/week = 900 learner-hours per week. If RGH is right, then 900 classroom hours equals 180 tutoring hours. Let's assume each tutor can provide 30 hours per week of tutoring (they still have to have prep time).

It takes six paid tutors in one-on-one sessions, or two paid tutors in one-on-three sessions, to equal the educational value of one classroom teacher with 30 kids. (It's not really tutoring if you work with more than three kids at a time.)

That's a losing proposition for your school budget if you spend double or triple the money and end up with the same performance.

Maybe there's a way to apply tutoring and spend somewhat more money -- say 5x -- to have somewhat improved education.

Reg Cæsar said...

But, once we adjust for race, what have we learned over the years about what works in education?

What doesn't work: the last 200 years of progressive theorizing and the resulting pseudoexperimentation.

What did: the 3000+ years of classical education, and genuine experimentation, that preceded it.

You'd think dozens of centuries of trial-and-error might have something to teach us.

Consider: our classically-educated Founding Fathers could write a Constitution. Our progressively-educated moderns can't even read it.

Reg Cæsar said...

Tracking works for kids, but agitators and many parents don't like it because it reveals differences in students' innate abilities. --anonymous

It's not only the left which opposes tracking.

When Al Gore and his gang cooked up "Goals 2000", its Minnesota incarnation was called "Profiles in Learning", and included something approximating German children's early division into academic and industrial streams.

From the reaction of the local educational right, you'd think that Erich Honecker and his Stasi had crossed the St Croix from East Berlin... excuse me, Berlin, Hauptstadt der DDR.

This probably reflects the racial and class homogeneity of the state. Many suburban schools have a demographic profile something like 90% white, with 2.5% each of blacks, Asians, Hispanics and American Indians. The minority effect is trivial (and conveniently divided-- their diversity is our strength!), and there are few rich or poor whites. So the whole scheme conjures up an alien, Prussian conspiracy to create division where none exists.

Yet in Louisiana, so I'm told, tracking is as mainstream as apple pie, or rather crayfish étouffée. Local conditions make a huge difference in how things are perceived.

Anonymous said...

That's a good call about black American catchers Jody- do we have to go back to Roy Campanella? If so, wow.....

Wait- Charles Johnson- Marlins and Orioles was really good for short time and Russel Martin is half


Dan in DC

Anonymous said...

Jody, check the resumes of major league managers and you'll see former catchers are vastly overrepresented. Check current major league rosters and see how many catchers are way over the average age of major leaguers in general. You rarely find a good team with a young, inexperienced catcher, and those teams will almost always have a veteran pitching staff. Catchers are the thinkers on the field, and you see old pros like Jason Varitek still playing, not because of his pitiful bat, but because of his unparalleled management of games and pitchers.

John, the bottom of the pyramid is made up of large groups of specialists. The lefty relief pitcher that only pitchers to lefty hitters, the late-inning defensive guy that plays 5 positions, etc.

Thucydides, my only problem with James and the rest of the Sabermetrics geeks is there's no accounting for the umpire factor. Maddux was a good pitcher, and was made even better by getting the slider 6 inches outside called a strike because, hey, he's Maddux. How frustrating it must have been for pitchers to throw a great pitch to Wade Boggs with 2 strikes and not get the call because, hey, he's Wade Boggs and if he didn't swing it must have been a ball. David Ortiz is such a whiner at the plate that with some umps it seems his strike zone goes from ankle to helmet!

And like lower IQ students in education, the physically-challenged ballplayer, like shrimpy, slow Dustin Pedroia, can only successfully compete with the gifted athletes like Alex Rodriguez
by working their asses off. And like education, any good coaching that Pedroia has received has a much more measurable impact than it would on A-Rod.

Brutus

FelixM said...

I've tutored one kid and am currently tutoring another (both for free, both sons of friends)

the idea was that I'd tutor in math, but I get involved across the curriculum. Faced with a kid who has to, eg write a sonnet for next Tuesday, I can end up being a bit of a parent substitute

and sometimes a teacher presents a topic as a bunch of rules and ignores the ideas. This frustrates intelligent kids

Anonymous said...

Video camera technology has long been adequate to be placed in
p u b l i c school classrooms
full time. Random snippets of a teacher's classroom over the period of two weeks would "tell the whole story" of the degree of learning opportunities being generated and if such opportunities were being generated, the responsiveness capabilities of the various students. It would also indicate the general paucity of spontaneous--genuinely
e l e c t i v e--social interactions between Whites and Blacks. For the most part, IF parents viewed for, say, 60 minutes the snippets gathered over two weeks, a special School Board meeting would be demanded and if held would require police presence to preserve order. The NEA and school superintendents would burn down the buildings before they would permit such video tape exposure of
p u b l i c education. As someone having spent hundreds of hours observing students in classrooms ( entering and leaving to the extent that when I entered no one noticed--thus, observing a business as usual classroom ) I affirm there is some remarkably good teaching (rewarded no better that poor teaching upon the basis of socialistic, unionized salary schedules ), but overall, it is, and has been, a progressively accumulating catastrophe One possible ameliorating possibility is to structure by law and especially by public financing of education, complementary relationships between public schools and homeschooling efforts within the school district. This does not have to be either/or. Many students can spend three hours a day in home schooling and three hours a day at public school.
Video applications at home would be a safeguard and inasmuch as schooling is mandated legally, there is a compelling state interest in meaningful accountability. A great many homes are not up to home schooling.

Sad American said...

OT, but this article confirms Steve's theory that republicans can still win elections if they concentrate on winning the white vote. It also shows they don't need McCain's Big Tent.

White Men Shun Democrats

Excerpt: Millions of white men who voted for Barack Obama are walking away from the Democratic Party, and it appears increasingly likely that they'll take the midterms elections in November with them. Their departure could well lead to a GOP landslide on a scale not seen since 1994.

Anonymous said...

Thrasymachus:

Little of what goes on in public schools can be called education.

Finally, someone hit the nail on the head.

I went to "good", well-financed, suburban public schools with mostly white students and I learned very little. I could already read when I got there; I learned some math but that was about it. Most of my knowledge came from the encyclopedia. What we call "education" mainly has to do with socializing children. Knowledge attained in the process is incidental.

The socialist "socialization" agenda goes further than that.

Remember, educational "peer socialization" did not exist until after World War II. Before then, public education was mostly education. Sure it was elitist, racist, fascist, and right-wing ... but it was education.

In 1945 or so, educrats looked to the devastation in postwar Europe, and believed that it could have been prevented if young natural leader-types of all social classes basically got their own way from an early age.

That way, there could be no potential Hitlers, Lenins, or Stalins in America. No frustrated and disgruntled fuhrers with followers would pop up from the lower classes, and overturn society. It was OK if the malcontents were smart or otherwise successful, just as long as they couldn't inspire the masses to revolt.

So basically children in schools were grouped by age only, with any segregation by race, class, intelligence, or talent strongly discouraged. The natural leaders were allowed free rein over the other students, with minimal discipline or supervision by the adults. These leaders (or alpha males, as Whiskey would say) were the unofficial police, keeeping the mobs in order. Of course, their idea of "order" was not quite the same as the teachers', but at least it was some order, and they never directly threatened the teachers or other adults.

Too Tall Jones said...

"Persistently large racial gaps are the single most obvious fact about educational performance."

The "race gap" above is only ONE such fact about educational performance. There are a few others namely that whites are routinely outperformed by Asians, who also post higher graduation rates and better grades, and more admission to prestige schools proportionally than whites, etc. THAT gap doesn't receive as much publicity but it is also an "elephant" there. In fact one recent WSJ article shows WHITE parents avoiding or running away from enrollment in certain schools to avoid tougher Asian competition. The Journal calls the phenomenon "The New White Flight."
http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB113236377590902105-lMyQjAxMDE1MzEyOTMxNjkzWj.html


Lets look at those OTHER facts. Asians have three to five times their proportionate share of college faculty, architects, scientists, teachers, engineers, and physicians. They are overrepresented among winners of National Merit Scholarships, U.S. Presidential Scholarships, Arts Recognition and Talent Search scholars, and Westinghouse Science Talent Search scholars. They are overrepresented at American's most prestigious universities (Flynn 1991), constituting roughly 50% of the freshmen at the University of California at Berkeley and 10% to 30% of students in many other elite universities (Arenson 2007). They score higher on the SAT and ACT, especially in math. In published "school report cards" mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act, they perform much better than other minority groups. They generally excel in quantitative skills and outnumber whites in engineering and computer science disciplines (Hune and Chan 1997). Conservative scholars such as Richard Lynn show Asians achieving higher test scores than whites and estimate the IQs of Asians in their native countries to be higher than that of whites (Lynn 1991). The Asian superiority was especially pronounced in math (Stevenson and Lee 1990). The Asian advantage seems to prevail even in adoption situations. An adoption study of Korean children adopted by whites in Belgium (average ave 1.15), compared the tests of the Asian children with those of native whites, using the French version of the well known WISC test. The Asian children obtained a mean IQ of 119- some 19 points ahead of native whites. This was later norm-corrected to about 110 points, still ahead of native whites. (Sternberg 2000).

Asian American students have also been found to spend significantly more time on homework (Steinberg 1996) and parents have higher educational expectations for their children than White Americans did (Mau, 1997). Golden (2006) revealed that colleges held Asian-American students to a higher standard than whites. Golden concluded that some Asian-American students who would have been admitted if they were of any other ethnicity got rejected -- often for reasons based on stereotype -- to make room for "more desirable" students. Consequently, Asian-American students face by far the lowest admissions rate of any ethnic group (17.6%, compared with 23.8% for whites, 33.7% for blacks, and 26.8% for Hispanics) (Shea 2006), despite the fact that they constitute great numbers of students in some prestigious universities. Asians also seem to have less mental health problems than whites. A 2007 analysis of 379 National Institute of Mental Health-funded psychiatric clinical trial studies published between 1995 and 2004 found that Asian Americans made up only 0.6% of the patients studied -- the lowest representation of any ethnic group (Morain 2007).

Too Tall Jones said...

continued:
"Persistently large racial gaps are the single most obvious fact about educational performance."

Asian students are a remarkable 2.5 times more likely than their white classmates to qualify for admission for the prestigious the University of california system, They make up 10 percent of the state's population, but almost half of the student body at the state's two flagship schools, Berkeley and UCLA. Of the top bracket in the basic SAT I, Asians made up 25% in Math and 11% in verbal, even though only 4.2% of the eligible students. In the more specialized SAT II tests, Asian scores were again spectacular, thripe their shareof top scores in writing and historym five times their proportional share in biology and about 8 times theit share in boh SAT II math tests, in chemistry and in physics.(Thernstrom S. (2004) No Excuses: CLosing the Racial Gap in Learning. p- 88-110).The same pattern shows in higher income Asians. Asian parents who had earned graduate degrees outperformed white students from comparable homes by 42% on SAT scores.

In verbal scores, whites from higher income levels do better, although this is reversed at income levels 60,000 or above where Asians seize advantage. Thernstrom 2004 and other researchers attribute this to the fact that many Asian students grow up in homes in which English is not the main language, and suggests that Asians would outperform white even on verbal tests if English ws the first language of Asian test takers.He shows that over a thirdof second generation Asians ranked in the top quartile nationally on national NELS tests.

In highly selective institutions of higher education the Asian presence is striking. Only 4% of the US population is Asian, yer Asians made up 27% of the 2000-2001 freshman class at MIT, 25% at Stanford, 24% at Cal tech, 18% at Columbiam 17% at Harvard and 12% at Duke or Princeton. Asians are far more likely to graduate from college. In 2000, a majority (54%) of Asians ages 25-29 had a bachelor's degree or more compared to just 34% of whites. [quote] "The 20-point Asian-white graduation rate gap is even larger than the 16-point black-white gap." (Thernstrom p. 85).



It could thus be said that so called "wasted" efforts to boost the performance of black students, are in fact productive for white students, who ALSO benefit from greater attention to the basics, more direct instruction, more rigor and better attention to testing, etc. In other words, the real agenda behind the debate on black-white gaps may only serve to mask a deeper reality- that of intense white efforts to reverse white decline -- the real agenda is to reduce the Asian-White gap. Educational improvement efforts supposedly "directed at blacks" may in actuality be really targeted at white students. Blacks are put out front as convenient stalking horses however - to take the heat.

Too Tall Jones said...

BlackSea sez:

#1: Students who work hard at a subject generally do so because they like the subject, and they generally like the subject because they are good at the subject. It is therefore difficult (and often fruitless) to urge weak students to work hard at a subject they know they are not good at.

------ Dubious. There are plenty of students who do well in subjects they DON'T like, thru a combination of parental pressure, classrrom pressure and good instruction. Weak students can pull their performances up. Just ask "loser" Thomas Sowell.


#2: It is impossible to generate an interest among students in a subject they are not equipped to understand.

-------- Not necessarily. You could have students very interested in Science even though they may do poorly at it.


#3: The level of instruction in a given course shouldn't necessarily be aimed at the very brightest students in the class, but gearing instruction and assignments toward the abilities of those at the threshold between the top and second quartiles of the class is probably about right.

----------- Perhaps.


#4: If you can't learn to read, write, add, subtract, multiply, and divide by the sixth grade, you won't have learned to by the eight grade, nor by the twelth grade either.

-------- Agreed to the extent that early proficiency will predict future proficiency. But as a blanket statement this also is dubious.


#6: The shortcomings and wasteful expenditures of our educational system result not from lack of understanding about how students learn, but rather from political and social pressures which we dare not refuse.

---------- Exactly what would those pressures be? How does political pressure for example, prevent a white kid from pulling his grades up in Algebra, so he can perform say at the level of an Asian kid in the same class?

rob said...

Too Tall Jones said...
"Persistently large racial gaps are the single most obvious fact about educational performance."

The "race gap" above is only ONE such fact about educational performance. There are a few others namely that whites are routinely outperformed by Asians...


Too tall "Jones", you coulda skipped writing three posts if you realized Asians were race. You really didn't know? Really?

Asians may be underrepresented in mental health clinical trials because of risk-aversion and stigmatization of mental illness by Asians. Clinical trial participation is of course different than mental illness rate. Cuz by white standards, a huge chunk have anxiety disorders at the minimum.

Asians may have higher GPAs and SAT scores because they study more than whites. The SAT is not nearly as g-loaded as it used to be. As for college admissions, if you accept diversity as a factor in college admissions, of course higher scoring populations should be held to a higher standard. If not, well whites created the Cali universities. I'm sure Asians are very well-represented at colleges in Asia.

Anonymous said...

Really, the nightmare stories of how terrible the California public school curriculum is are highly exaggerated.

I have three kids in elementary schools in the infamous LAUSD, and the reading program used is Open Court Reading, the same phonics-based system that's used in Texas. The teachers hate it because it doesn't leave a lot of room for teacher creativity, but it seems to work fine for the students and my kids all taught themselves to read before they started kindergarten so it's not really an issue for us. Similarly, the math instruction on the elementary level is largely drill-based and unobjectionable, and the history classes are surprisingly similar (building California missions!) to the Western Civ-based classes that California boomers and xers remember.

At the end of the day, it comes down to student quality. Our public school in a corner of the San Fernando Valley is mostly middle class white (a lot of below the line film and tv workers) with a ton of Persians and Armenians and a smattering of bright black and Hispanic kids whose parents were motivated enough to get them bused in or to move into apartments in the area to access the good local schools. Result? API scores in the perfectly respectable 850-950 range.

So quibbles aside, there's nothing inherently wrong with what's being taught in even the notorious LA schools-- a lot of it is exactly the same as what Texas kids are being taught. It's the quality of the students that's far more important to outcomes here.

Truth said...

"Asians may have higher GPAs and SAT scores because they study more than whites. The SAT is not nearly as g-loaded as it used to be."

Asians > Whites = Work ethic.
Whites > Blacks = Intelligence

Got it.

Black Sea said...

"---------- Exactly what would those pressures be?"

The expectation that all groups be proportionately represented at the high, mid, and lower ranges of academic performance. In short, the pressure to equalize the performance of all groups.

The expectation that greater and greater percentages of the overall population must undergo university education, and that increasing these percentages is necessarily a sensible allocation of resources.

Th expectation that all students achieve a level of "competency," with the underlying assumption that "competency" means something other than the ability to breathe.

"How does political pressure for example, prevent a white kid from pulling his grades up in Algebra, so he can perform say at the level of an Asian kid in the same class?"

This isn't relevant to anything in my comment. In other words, I never claimed nor implied that such pressures prevent white students from studying harder and improving their grades, though in fact the mediocre and duplicitous educational environment that such pressures create may in fact retard such development, though it does the Asian students no favors as well.

ben tillman said...

Tryin' to think of a catcher who moved to shortstop..... hmmm....

Ray Boone.

"Back in 1948, Manager Pat Ankenman of the Oklahoma City Indians made one of baseball's most unusual and little-remembered decisions. Sometime in June, he switched Ray Ike Boone from catcher to shortstop...."

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...

"Asians may have higher GPAs and SAT scores because they study more than whites. The SAT is not nearly as g-loaded as it used to be."

Asians > Whites = Work ethic.
Whites > Blacks = Intelligence

Got it.

You are right, it's obviously:

Asians > Whites = work ethic + intelligence
Whites > Blacks = work ethic + intelligence

Anonymous said...

"So quibbles aside, there's nothing inherently wrong with what's being taught in even the notorious LA schools-- a lot of it is exactly the same as what Texas kids are being taught. It's the quality of the students that's far more important to outcomes here."


Great point.

Similar education.

LAUSD $25,000 per student annually

Houston ISD $12,000 per student annually

LA could cut the cost and get similar results.

California Lefties are just overcharging the citizens.

Anonymous said...

#4: If you can't learn to read, write, add, subtract, multiply, and divide by the sixth grade, you won't have learned to by the eight grade, nor by the twelth grade either.

-------- Agreed to the extent that early proficiency will predict future proficiency. But as a blanket statement this also is dubious."


Maybe for the basic level but as you go up through high school, there are plenty of kids who can get an A in algebra in 12th grade (and really understand it) but could not pass it in 8th grade.

A slower pace of instruction is appropriate for many reasonably able students in the 95-110 IQ range. Generally the only kids getting A's in Algebra in 7th or 8th grade have IQ's of at least 125.

The problem is that schooling is politicized and educrats want the impossible: diverse students performing similarly.

Anonymous said...

"That's a losing proposition for your school budget if you spend double or triple the money and end up with the same performance."


Steve,

LA public schools spend $25,000 per student per year. They can afford your tutoring model even if the pay the tutors $100,000 a year.

TCO said...

I swung by the Barnes and Nobles looking for a good review book that would help answer some of Steve's questions (what works, doesn't for educational methods).

There seems to be a belief in this group that smart people learn by puzzles and dumb by rote. There may be something to this, but I'm not sure it is so simple. I have seen below average people learn from puzzles in service classes. And remember better because of it. Then, I have also experienced hard core quantum classes that (I felt) were poor methodolgically because of an inadequate amount of easier homework problems (to help grasp the material, build familiarity with strangeness), instead the only problems given tended to be totall ballbusters. I think some general studies on the advantages, disadvantages of rote versus puzzle would be helpful. Actually even for rote, there are ways to make it fun (cards, games, etc.) that tend to add effectiveness versus inefficent learning like just staring at the paper, or higjhliting the book, or writing and rewriting.

Anonymous said...

What have we learned?

That some truths are so ugly they will never make it through Komment Kontrol.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.