Reviews | We leave the “lost Einsteins” behind us

Second, they write,

We find no evidence of positive or negative spillover effects on other students in the same school / grade cohort, including those who narrowly missed the entry threshold into the GHA class.

What factors are at the origin of the gains for minority students in the gifted class? The authors

hypothesize that higher ability minority students face barriers in the mainstream classroom environment that cause them to underachieve relative to their potential, and that some of these barriers – including the weak teacher expectations and negative peer pressure – are reduced or eliminated in a GHA classroom.

In addition, they point out that

minority students have lower achievement scores than white students with the same cognitive ability, and this placement in a GHA class effectively bridges this minority underachievement gap.

There are very different issues at the college level.

A team of researchers from Drexel University’s Center for Labor Markets and Policy – Paul Harrington, Neeta Fogg and Ishwar Khatiwada – analyzed a series of studies on high school and college test scores, rates of ‘graduation and subsequent employment models in cooperation with the Educational Testing Service.

In an email, they outline some of their basic findings:

About two-thirds of high school graduates enroll in university right after graduation and 8 years later, nearly 9 in 10 high school graduates will have enrolled in a higher education institution. Taking into account the scores of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, this implies that a considerable share of students are admitted to university with poor reading, writing and math skills. But a large portion of these students will not graduate.

Harrington, Fogg and Khatiwada “estimate that there are about 31 million adults in the United States who have left college without reward.”

Not only that, but a substantial portion of those who graduate lack the basic skills for a job with college requirements: “More than one in five adults with a bachelor’s degree have literacy skills below Level 3 (basic) and one in three have low numeracy scores.

Why did this happen?

Many colleges and universities have increased their enrollment capacity to meet this near universal demand. These accommodations included the admission of a substantial portion of students with lower literacy and numeracy skills.

Admission requirements have been liberalized, write Harrington and colleagues, despite the fact that

most colleges are not organized to strengthen these skills. Substantial proportions of enrolled students with lower reading and numeracy skills increase the risk of both dropping out of school before graduation and being unemployed after graduation.

Who are the poorly employed?

Employees with a bachelor’s degree or higher who work in an occupation that does not generally require the knowledge and skills of a college graduate. The college job market is largely made up of high-level professional, technical, managerial and sales jobs. The incidence of unemployment is highest among recent college graduates who often struggle to find their place in the workforce.

Harrington and his colleagues believe that

around one in four prime-age workers is unemployed. The probability of unemployment varies considerably by major field of study. About one in three students in the humanities / liberal arts / social sciences are unemployed, and about one in six students in engineering, mathematics and computer science, and in health specialties are unemployed.

I asked John Van Reenen, the MIT economist who co-authored the “Lost Einsteins” article, about these trends and he replied via email that these developments are

particularly a problem for disadvantaged groups – children from low income and minority families. The United States has surprisingly high levels of inequality, which means that many talented children are not getting the opportunities they should be. This is bad for the sake of equity and growth.

There are many children from underprivileged backgrounds, he continued, “who could benefit from it but do not have the opportunity because of the quality of kindergarten to grade 12, neighborhoods in which they grow up, from their lack of access to mentors and networks, bad information, etc. ”, citing the work of Card-Giuliano and others.

David Deming, professor of education and economics at Harvard, opposed those who criticize the quality of public education.

“There is a story that our K-12 schools are failing, and I think it is wrong,” Deming wrote via email.

NAEP scores in grade 12 have been stable for 20 years, but we are educating more low income and immigrant students in grade 12 than ever before, which makes me think that flat overall scores underestimate our progress due to composition effects. The high school graduation rate during this period increased by 7 percentage points, from 84% in 2000 to 91% today. So there are many more young people who stay in school long enough to be tested.

Deming argues that public attention should focus on inequalities in post-secondary education:

More importantly, the inequality of resources is an order of magnitude greater in higher education compared to K-12. Wealthy school districts may spend 20% more than poor school districts. Elite private colleges spend over $ 100,000 per student per year, compared to about $ 10,000 in community colleges. In higher education, we devote the most resources to those students who need the least help.

At the same time, Deming recognizes the relentless escalation in demand for skills of all kinds:

Work is increasingly knowledge-based, and more and more jobs require BOTH a solid foundation in arithmetic and literacy AND ‘higher-level’ skills like problem solving, team, critical thinking, etc. Many of these jobs also require digital literacy and more. advanced technical skills. Overall, the core skill set required for most mid- to high-paying jobs is increasing and will continue to do so.

Deming suggested that the blame for many of today’s education problems could be thrown at the feet of the for-profit college industry:

If you could measure skills by type of university, I suspect that you would find that low-skilled college graduates in non-college jobs are mostly graduates of for-profit schools and non-profit and public organizations in less selective free access. I also suspect that “unemployed” university graduates mostly belong to this group.

In addition, he continued,

almost all of the expansion of college degrees over the past 20 years has occurred in for-profit and less selective schools. So I think it’s all part of the same problem. There are many colleges, but the best are not growing. In fact, they are increasingly difficult to access. Just look at the data on median GPA and SAT / ACT scores among incoming classes at flagship universities. They have all become much more selective. There are more and more talented young people, but only a limited number of places in selective schools.

The point is that the whole subject of standardized testing has become extremely controversial.

About Colin Shumway

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