Saturday, May 16, 2015

Dispaches from the SHAMscape... May 16, 2015

Here's another reason why some educators/administrators don't like standardized tests (see yesterday's item): Testing puts a numerical face on the dimensions of America's efforts in the area of social engineering. Given affirmative action's loss of luster in the wake of several damning court decisions and voter referendums, administrators in Higher Edwho were always its most ardent practitionershave tried to fly under the radar in their continuing endeavors to micromanage equality and "social justice" (or their conception of same). If the data quoted in this story are valid, it appears that a given black applicant to Harvard can get in with an SAT score that's fully 450 points lower than a given Asian applicant, and 310 points lower than your everyday white applicant. As the entire exam comprises 2400 points, a 450-point margin is a difference of nearly 20%. That is huge in a society in which major qualitative decisions are made daily on the basis of fractional increments of a single percentage point. As I wrote in an essay back during my senior year at Brooklyn College (1972), which was just then embracing affirmative action, "Even if it's true that the underperformance of minority students is an ongoing vestige of slavery and oppression, it strikes me as fundamentally unfair that a random white [or Asian] student of today, who has never owned a slave and has no personal history of oppressing anyone, should have to suffer for it in recompense. Two wrongs don't make a right." (Apologies for having ended on a cliched note. Hey, I was young.)

3 comments:

renee james said...

Have you watched this?

Malcolm Gladwell Zeitgeist Americas 2013; a talk he gave at a Google conference.

Occurs to me it could add a bit to your discussion here.

whistle said...

"difference of nearly 20%."

It's worse than that, isn't it? The lowest SAT score isn't a 0, it's a 600, so 450 is really a 25% difference...

Either way, I agree that 'affirmative action' is not the way to right inequalities.

Steve Salerno said...

Whistle, I meant that 450 is 18% of 2400, but maybe that's not the right way to express it. Maybe I need remediation...