Friday, September 23, 2016

Majority of US college freshmen not ready for higher education

The test results are in, with proof -- if proof is needed -- that when it comes to formal, post-secondary education, the Excited States of America does poorly compared with other developed countries. A disturbingly high percentage of US college graduates can't read, write or do basic math properly. The freshmen are even worse. Many 1000s of American yoofs graduate from high school unable to read their diplomas. GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out.

Just over a year ago, the College Board reported that SAT scores dropped significantly for that year's class of college-bound seniors. All three sections saw declines, with the numbers were down for male and female students alike. At the same time, SAT scores showed continued patterns in which white and Asian students, on average, receive higher scores than do black and Latino students. So don't be calling Walt a white supremacist. I'm just repeating the facts.

Many academics, including Dr. Walter E. Williams*, argue that a very large percentage of all incoming freshmen have no business being admitted to college. According to the College Board's report, the average combined SAT score for white students was 1576 out of a possible 2400. Black student SAT scores, at 1277, were the lowest of the seven reported racial groups. The College Board considers a SAT score of 1550 as the benchmark that indicates a readiness for college-level work.

Only 32% of white students scored at or above "proficient" in math. Only 7% of black students achieved that level. 46% of white test takers, but just 17% of blacks, were considered proficient in reading. Yet because of the reverse racism which is euphemistically called "affirmative action", black students are actually given preference in admission to many US colleges and universities.

Another test used for admission to college is the American College Testing Program (ACT). The ACT test was taken by 2,090,342 students in the high school graduating class of 2016. Just over 13% of the test takers were black. The average composite score for black test takers on the ACT was 17.0 (on a scale of 1 to 36). That was lower than the average score for any other racial or ethnic group including American Indians, Hispanics, and Pacific Islanders. The average composite score for whites was 22.2. The racial gap in ACT test scores has remained relatively stable for decades.

Leaving aside the racial disparity, some truly shocking numbers are revealed in "A Major Crisis in College Readiness for Black Students", a report in The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. The majority of students -- white as well as black -- simply are not well-enough educated to be going to college! Only 34% of whites who took the ACT were deemed college-ready in all four areas: English, mathematics, reading and science. For blacks, the figure was just 6%.

Dr Williams* argues that "the most pervasive form of racial discrimination at most colleges is affirmative action. In the name of helping people from groups that have suffered past discrimination, colleges admit black students whose academic preparation differs significantly with that of their white peers. Those differences are not subtle. It should not come as a surprise that the intended beneficiaries of that 'benign' discrimination feel themselves ridiculed, isolated and treated differently. As a result, students who might be successes in a less competitive environment are turned into failures."

Dr Williams goes on to say that the problem of black education begins long before college. The National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as "The Nation's Report Card", shows that in 2015, only 7% percent of black 12th-graders were considered proficient in math, and only 17% in reading. "This suggests that the average black 12th-grader has the academic proficiency of a white 8th- or 9th-grader. Consider the following question: If one admits 1000 randomly selected 8th- and 9th-graders to college and admits 1000 randomly selected 12th-graders, who do you think is going to come out on top? Who would be surprised if the 8th- and 9th-graders felt inferiority, oppression, and insensitivity?

"The academic elite feel righteous seeing blacks on campus, even if they are severely mismatched. Black people must ask: Are we going to sacrifice our youngsters so that white liberals can feel good about themselves?"

* Based on "Cruelty to Black Students", by Walter E. Williams, on the Lew Rockwell blog. Dr Williams is an American economist, commentator, and academic. He is the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University. And he is black.

Further reading: The chapters on the crisis in American education in War on the Middle Class, by Lou Dobbs (Viking Penguin 2007); Why Johnny Can't Read, by Dr. Rudolf Flesch (latest edition: Buccaneer Books 1998)

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