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McKinsey Consultant's New "Slate"-flavored SAT Intimidates "Slate" Nonreaders, Like Immigrants, Poor, Blacks

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I’ve been following for several years the fabulous career of former McKinsey consultant David Coleman, founder of the Common Core and then head of the College Board, which puts him in charge of rewriting the SAT and PSAT. When a sample version of Coleman’s new PSAT came out last April, I pointed out that the reading selections sound like excerpts from Slate.com back when Michael Kinsley was editor in the late 1990s.

I’ve always been a big Kinsley fan, so I found the excerpts in Coleman’s new Slate-flavored SAT more to my taste than the usual test sludge heavy on fiction about “Yesenia and n!Xiao Celebrate Diwali.” But what about the Diverse?

I’m sure Mickey Kaus or Timothy Noah would ace Coleman’s new SAT, but does Coleman really know what he’s getting himself into? As Mickey said once said, ever since he went off to Harvard as a teen, he really hasn’t worked much with people who scored below 1100 on the SAT.

My intuition that Coleman’s PSAT sounded like Kinsley’s Slate makes a lot of sense from the point of view of Coleman’s biography. The guy who, in effect, hired Coleman to do Common Core was Bill Gates, who also personally hired Kinsley to be the founding editor of Gates’ Slate. Moreover, Coleman’s high school debate partner was Hanna Rosin, long a leading Slate writer and wife of Slate’s subsequent top editor, David Plotz.

From the New York Times today:

New, Reading-Heavy SAT Has Students Worried
By ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS FEB. 8, 2016 92 COMMENTS

BOSTON — For thousands of college hopefuls, the stressful college admissions season is about to become even more fraught. The College Board, which makes the SAT, is rolling out a new test — its biggest redesign in a decade, and one of the most substantial ever.

Chief among the changes, experts say: longer and harder reading passages and more words in math problems. The shift is leading some educators and college admissions officers to fear that the revised test will penalize students who have not been exposed to a lot of reading, or who speak a different language at home — like immigrants and the poor.

… “It’s going to change who does well,” said Lee Weiss, the vice president of precollege programs at Kaplan Test Prep, one of the nation’s biggest test-preparation programs. “Before, if you were a student from a family where English was not the first language, you could really excel on the math side. It may be harder in the administration of this new test to decipher that, because there is so much text on both sides of the exam.”

The redesigned SAT contains longer and harder reading passages and more words in math problems, experts say. How well would you do? Try these questions, taken from a College Board practice test. …

But outside analysts say the way the words are presented makes a difference. For instance, short sentence-completion questions, which tested logic and vocabulary, have been eliminated in favor of longer reading passages, from literary sources like “Ethan Frome” and “Moby-Dick,” or political ones, like John Locke’s ideas about consent of the governed. These contain sophisticated words and thoughts in sometimes ornate diction.

The math problems are more wrapped in narrative, as Serena Walker, a college-bound junior at the Match charter school here, found when she fired up her laptop for a practice quiz on the new test.

“An anthropologist studies a woman’s femur that was uncovered in Madagascar,” one question began. She knew a femur was a leg bone, but was not sure about “anthropologist.” She was contemplating “Madagascar” just as she remembered her teacher’s advice to concentrate on the essential, which, she decided, was the algebraic equation that came next, h = 60 + 2.5f, where h stood for height and f stood for the length of the femur.

“I feel like they put in a lot of unnecessary words,” she said. …

Jed Applerouth, who runs a national tutoring service, estimated that the new math test was 50 percent reading comprehension, adding, in a blog post, that “students will need to learn how to wade through all the language to isolate the math.”

The new SAT is probably less correlated with I.Q. testing than the old one, Dr. Applerouth said in an interview. But given the more difficult reading level of some passages and more demanding curriculum, “it may be the rich get richer,” he said.

Jay Bacrania, the chief executive of Signet Education, a test-prep company based in Cambridge, said he found blocks of text from the new test to average at least a grade level higher than text from the old one. When students open the exam, “I think to some degree the sticker shock — that first impression — is almost even worse,” he said. …

Competition for market share has been growing, and in 2012, the ACT surpassed the SAT.

College Board officials said the new test was devised to satisfy the demands of college admissions officers and high school guidance counselors for an exam that more clearly showed a connection to what students were learning in school. The College Board has also been grappling with complaints that the old SAT, with its arcane vocabulary questions, correlated with advantages like parental income and education, and that whites and Asians performed better on average than blacks and Hispanics.

Dr. Schmeiser said that despite educators’ fears, a preliminary study did not show the new test giving any disadvantage to Asians — who excel in math but do slightly less well than whites in reading. “We did look at how students of color and various races and ethnicities looked,” Dr. Schmeiser said. “It suggested the gap may be narrowing.”

 

112 Comments to "McKinsey Consultant's New "Slate"-flavored SAT Intimidates "Slate" Nonreaders, Like Immigrants, Poor, Blacks"

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  1. OT, but speaking of Mickey Kaus, John Podhoretz tweeted to him:

    John Podhoretz
    @jpodhoretz
    View inside your brain: IMMIGRATIONIMMIGRATIONIMMIGRATIONIMMIGRATION
    orangejuiceIMMIGRATIONIMMIGRATIONcarIMMIGRATION

    I think we know the all-caps “I” word we’d see inside J-Pod’s brain.

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  2. I wrote about this last year PSAT Reading/Writing and Math

    The math is absurdly difficult.

    I think Coleman is willingly abandoning the college market for Asians in order to get a bunch of states accepting the SAT as a high school graduation test. Several states have already been convinced to sign on, a few of them leaving the ACT, which always led that market.

    I’ve sat through a Springboard sales pitch, the curriculum sold by the College Board, and the salesman says explicitly that, given the SAT’s increasing penetration in the high school test market, we’d be *really stupid* not to select the SAT in order to be sure our kids were ready. I was not the only person on the committee who saw the comment as a threat.

    We eliminated Springboard in the first round, though,

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  3. Oops–there’s been no coverage of how the PSAT scores went, what the gap was, and so on. I’m figuring that the CB has figured out a way to scale the difficulty in such a way that blacks and Hispanics don’t have a larger than usual gap. I don’t see how, but that seems the only way forward,

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  5. What’s the point of even testing if everything is skewed to accommodate someone ?
    And, why don’t white kids qualify for SOME kind of “concession”. Ugly, nerd, uncoordinated, bad skin, poor parents…..something?

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  6. My oldest just got back his scores for the PSAT and was quite pleased (1470 brag, brag). He said there were more words involved with the math questions, but the Kaplan review course he took had him well-prepared. His buddy at the chess club also did really well, a Russian-American kid.

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  7. OT – Campus Hate Hoax Watch

    How long before these fall apart?

    Black students at SUNY Albany say they were attacked on a bus

    Racial slurs, theft investigated at Roberts Wesleyan

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  8. OT but the Coens are getting mau-maued over the lack of diversity in their movies:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/02/04/the-coen-brothers-the-oscars-are-not-that-important.html

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  9. The actual equation mentioned seemed simple but puzzling.

    Assuming 60 is a height in inches, the base height is 5 feet and then you add on a multiple of the length of your thigh. This would have most people standing 7 feet plus in their socks.

    As I’m only 5’8″ I find this very triggering.

    • Agree: AndrewR
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  10. Jews have the highest verbal IQ, so which group will benefit most?

    ROTFL.

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  11. Wait, so she’s taking the SAT, apparently college bound, and doesn’t know the meaning of the works “femur”, “anthropologist” and “Madagascar”?

    It’s not April Fools yet, Steve!

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  12. Competition for market share has been growing, and in 2012, the ACT surpassed the SAT.

    I did not know that. I’m glad there is at least some kind of competition.

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  13. I wonder what their rationale was for making the math section have more of a verbal component. It seems like an odd choice. Perhaps they’re attempting to flush out those who have been relentlessly drilled on basic math problems, but it also likely selects against those with weaker English skills.

    An anti-Asian grind skew to the test?

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  14. When I read that the new math SAT would put more emphasis on verbally described math problems my first reaction was, “Wonderful! Now they will finally test students’ abilities to apply math to the solution of real problems.” Based on the example provide above though it sounds like all they’ve done is bury the original math SAT question in a superfluous jungle of verbiage. Basically, no improvement at all.

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  15. Try it with centimeters.

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  16. My son is a junior and I didn’t see the point in having him be a guinea pig for the redesigned SAT when every single college presentation we went to (HYP plus other top schools) said they didn’t care which test he took. I read Education Realist’s very interesting blog as part of my research into this decision and the annual cheating scandals surrounding the SAT and it being able to be gamed by cram schools/pricey tutoring is a big turn off to me.

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  17. That was my first thought – they are trying to weed out Asians, in particular foreign born Asians.

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  18. Competition has produced bad consequences. Once, the Educational Testing Service had scientific standards.

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  19. Or to weed in even more girls, under cover of weeding out the extra Asian grinders, who have much less of a constituency.

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  20. From what I’ve seen teaching ACT test-prep, the baked-in worldview rivals the NYT editorial pages for undead paleoprogtardism.

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  21. The math is absurdly difficult.

    How so?

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  22. Jews have the highest verbal IQ, so which group will benefit most?

    When I showed this article in the New York Times to my utterly Shiksa wife, that was the first thing she said.

    The new SAT is probably less correlated with I.Q. testing than the old one, Dr. Applerouth said in an interview.

    I read claims that the verbal portion of the SAT were the most “g-loaded,” so I find this assertion puzzling in light of the greater verbosity in the new SAT.

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  23. Slate has gone into serious decline. The Kinsley Slate was contrarian, if sometimes compulsively and hot-take so. In the last few years they seem to have made a conscious choice to go a different route, and instead reinforce the biases of their mostly progressive readers. Conservatives are wicked or stupid, and progressives are smart. They’ve even adopted the hoary old practice of using unflattering stock photos of conservatives and heroic photos of progressives gazing thoughtfully off into the middle distance. Worse, the writers are very often engaging in propaganda, and doing it badly enough that it’s obvious.

    It attracts a certain class of repeat readers, I suppose, but it’s not very lively. It has the feel of a politically committed community college sociology department conducting an “Intro to Contemporary American Social Issues” class for sophomores they don’t regard as very bright. One gets the impression that deviationism is strictly policed and that there will be icy glares at the next department meeting if someone fails to fall into line on this or that issue.

    The current crop of writers are about two notches down in IQ from the old stable, and the gay mafia seems to have taken over.

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  24. It’s a centimeter problem. You take the length of the femur (in cm) and multiply that by 2.5 to get total centimeters, and then add 60 centimeters to that. Then the total (divided by 2.5) will give you height in inches.

    For example, if you are 5′ 8″ that’s 68 inches. So I will subtract 24 inches from that (44) because that’s 60 cms. Then I take that 44 inches and divide by 2.5. That gives me 17.6 inches, or, expressed in cms, about 44 cms. That should be the length of your femur.

    What it basically should mean is that your height should be “around” 4 times the length of your thigh bone.

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  25. “It suggested the gap may be narrowing.”

    Hehe. As you’ve said before, there are two ways to narrow the gap.

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  26. I’ve seen Idiocracy at least five times and I never caught the Playboy reclining-babes motif on the wrought iron gates to the White House.

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  27. Rover?

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  28. Wait, so she’s taking the SAT, apparently college bound, and doesn’t know the meaning of the works “femur”, “anthropologist” and “Madagascar”?

    Aren’t femurs those cute little primates jumping from tree to tree in Madagascar?

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    The most g-loaded section were the analogies, which they got rid of about 10 years ago. The analogies of course were part of the verbal section, and they have the quality of not being verbose at all, since a completed analogy involves just 4 words, but at the same time being highly verbal since understanding and answering analogies correctly demands understanding nuances of meaning that can only really be garnered through using them in writing and reading them in context in challenging texts.

    • Agree: Desiderius
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  30. It suggested the gap may be narrowing.

    I doubt it’s narrowing with asians separating themselves from the rest.

    This change will likely help girls the most with the dreaded maths gap and blacks will also do a touch better since they do relatively better on verbal compared to whites vs. maths.

    Are they doing away with the writing test yet?

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    I don’t really see the point of making the math section a reading comprehension test. Why not keep it focused on math skills, especially since the verbal section apparently tests heavily on reading skills. I would think this could make the SAT less attractive than the ACT to a lot of people.

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  32. It’s not like the words “anthropologist”, “femur”, or “Madagascar” have anything to do with the problem. Maybe they intimidate dummies, but what I remember from word problems in school is that the words don’t actually mean that much. All the words are either filler or placeholders for variables in the equation.

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  33. Slate used to have clever Jewish guys — Kinsley, Weisberg, Plotz — as editor, but lately has had a gentile-looking gal, Julia Turner. She appears to have pushed it more toward the usual female-friendly clickbait model aimed less at the right tail of the Bell Curve.

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    They’ve lost the Plotz.

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  35. “Dr. Schmeiser said that despite educators’ fears, a preliminary study did not show the new test giving any disadvantage to Asians — who excel in math but do slightly less well than whites in reading. “We did look at how students of color and various races and ethnicities looked,” Dr. Schmeiser said. “It suggested the gap may be narrowing.””
    when the gap is narrowing than is disadvantages Asians relative to the old test. Maybe Dr. Schmeiser should haven taken a course in simple logic in his oder her 10 year long academic training (or how long does it take to get a Dr. degree?).
    Apart from that I think words in math tests are good, but the example is not good. “Madagascar” should have been let out. “An anthropologist studies a femur” is enough

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  36. That was my first thought – they are trying to weed out Asians, in particular foreign born Asians.

    Weed out? No. Top schools are happy to be 18-20% asian american and 10% foreign asian for undergrad and up to 50-60% for some grad programs. If you go by SAT scores, however, they’d be higher and this makes them vulnerable to discrimination claims by keeping them to 30%.

    Making the SAT more verbal just provides a bit of protection by de-emphasizing pure math skills.

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  37. She appears to have pushed it more toward the usual female-friendly clickbait model

    Unfortunately this describes 95% of news websites.

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  38. And if this doesn’t succeed in getting back all those graduate student places and professorships from those pesky Asians, the math section will be changed to Yiddish.

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  39. Ashkenazi do not under-perform math v verbal relative to the USA/UK white 100IQ standard.

    It might seem that way since sometimes, but this is accounted for by (1) in the modern USA very high verbal jobs pay well and/or have prestige compared to math IQ jobs (2) Ashkenazi over-performance in math and verbal is the same relative to blacks and gentile whites, but their verbal over-perfomance relative to NE Asians is higher than math, so in highly asian environments there is an incentive for Jews to specialize in verbal-loaded areas.

    When these two factors were much smaller, for example in the mid-20th century, Jewish over-representation in areas like math and physics was huge.

    The biggest study, with a sample of tens of thousands of schoolchildren, that allows comparison of Ashkenazi intelligence by subject subtest actually showed the two greatest areas of over-performance were two math subjects at over 1SD, however only by a statistically insignificant 1/10 or so of a SD or two over verbal subjects.

    By far our worse area is spacial reasoning, where we under-performed non-Jewish whites, though not by a statistically significant amount, I think it was about 1/5 SD.

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  40. The SAT recentering, when the score ceiling was lowered, worked against Ashkenazi, who are by far the most likely group to have scores depressed by the lowered ceiling.

    I pointed this out in a prior comment in a related context, with Richard Lynn’s prior and now disavowed estimate of Jewish IQ being too low (109) because he used a test with a very low ceiling, the 10 question GSS vocabulary test. He also failed to exclude black Jews from his sample. They averaged under 100 and also dragged the estimate down a bit, though not as much as the ceiling effect.

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  41. Thanks for the correction. The formula certainly works better in centimetres – although it’s still not perfect.

    It seems that the average height of men is 176 cm. whilst the average femur is about 48 cm. long. That gives a ratio of 3.7:1 – very close to the 4:1 you mentioned.

    Just to nitpick, it seems that the height:femur relationship is better expressed as a straight ratio (three and a half to one) than as a fixed amount (60cm.) plus a variable.

    • Agree: Spmoore8
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  42. Not long:

    http://m.timesunion.com/tuplus-local/article/Churchill-UAlbany-bus-attack-story-isn-t-holding-6816408.php

    Video was inconclusive. Just showed a scrum at the back of the drunk bus. White girl with black eye. Other people of color on bus interviewed said no racial slurs etc

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  43. Ugh. Word problems. To this day I struggle with them.

    I scored an 800 on the verbal section of my SAT, but for me, verbal math problems might as well be written in Chinese.

    I was about average with basic math. I struggled with algebra, but I did good enough to get by. I breezed through geometry — I guess I’m a visual thinker? I don’t know, but for whatever reason, that was the only branch of math I never had difficulty with.

    But word problems? You might as well have asked me to translate passages from the Bhagavad Gita in Sanskrit. And again — I got a PERFECT SCORE on the verbal section! God knows how it must be for some kid whose first language isn’t English.

    Well this is just depressing. The SAT was always supposed to be the great democratizer, the test that was supposed to uncover “diamonds in the rough” — frankly, I’m not sure I would have gone to college if it hadn’t been for my SAT scores. I guess this is yet one more nail in the coffin of that ideal — we shall one day be an entire society ruled by Tracy Flicks from the movie “Election.”

    How awful.

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  44. Which study is this? The differences that I’ve seen are given in terms of verbal and performance IQ with jews having the least correlation between them, I think it was Cochran and Harpending paper on jewish intelligence. Not in terms of verbal, maths and spatial.

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  45. Slate’s demise reminds me of the up and down (mostly down of late) history of The Atlantic. There have been periods where The Atlantic has been great, but long periods where it feels like it is aiming for people who think they are smart, but are very average. I’ve often wondered if it is not deliberate. “Let’s build our readership by going for the self-adoring putz market.”

    As to the new new new SAT, will the high IQ societies be using it? If so, how will they weight it? I’ve lost track, but my recollection is Mensa stopped using it entirely after some attempts to weight it. I would assume the others dropped it as well, since Mensa is probably the most willing to use these tests in place of their own.

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  46. Regarding math tests:
    I have taken and passed the EPSO (European Personnel Selection Office) tests to become a European Union official, and one of the things that struck me about the math problems was that the texts, as seems to be the case in these new SATs, were long and complicated, with a lot of irrelevant information. Figuring out what they wanted you to calculate was at least just as difficult as the calculations themselves.
    I suppose the consensus among test designers nowadays is that, for some reason, this is an important feature of math tests.

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  47. The David Coleman-designed Common Core tests have unsurprisingly widened the Gap, which I assume is because they are more g-loaded:

    https://spottedtoad.wordpress.com/2016/01/19/the-g-loaded-common-core/

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  48. How long before the native Asians are themselves working to rig the tests to prevent foreign Asians form taking “their” spots?

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  49. Yes, and femurs have such beautiful tails.

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  50. Went through a practice test for the new SAT and I won’t be referring it to SAT-verbal any more.

    It’s SAT-reading and reading and reading. Even SAT-writing is more of reading and more than half of the maths test is even more reading. Ridiculous.

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  51. “Chief among the changes, experts say: longer and harder reading passages and more words in math problems.”

    This is all designed to make sure that girls excel on the SAT; the SAT verbal average for boys is only a bit higher than that of girls, so more words equals more fairness (now, that’s math!).

    Also, when was the last time any of you looked at a high school math text? They’ve gone from 230 pages of equation-heavy text in the 1960′s to 1400+ pages of words and text (and pictures! don’t forget pictures).

    My son’s HS math books even had a Spanish vocabulary section right at the beginning of each chapter! Is that an equilateral triangle or a triángulo equilátero? Morons.

    I’m also wondering where they cap the score. Since there are two boys with an IQ over 130 for every girl, the SAT was recentered downward in the 1990′s to make sure that plenty of girls got high scores like boys.

    • Agree: Desiderius
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  52. My son took a GED test so he could dispense with high school. For the essay portion he wrote of an alcoholic father who stomped on his baby turtles. He was awarded highest honors and received his GED. With that in hand he went to the local state university and joined a frat. They partied so much he flunked out and the frat was kicked off campus. Then he went to the local community college and picked up an electronics degree. Using tactics from my book “Employment Game” he landed a job at a startup in Boulder, Colorado. He is struggling with the culture there and misses all the Rednecks and Mexicans where he grew up. When he goes for a hike the trail is brimming with hipsters and lesbians. “I can see why they have mass shooting here” he said.

    I never took the SAT either. Got a GED and just went to college. Don’t understand what all the fuss is about. You can just walk in the back door in most life situations and no one will be none the wiser.

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  53. Slate’s demise reminds me of the up and down (mostly down of late) history of The Atlantic.

    Mike Kelly is dearly missed.

    His death would make a good inflection point of an alternative history of the Iraq War.

    • Agree: slumber_j
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  54. yes, yes and yes. The kids need to be up on their global warmism, their civil rights extras, their weird art and literature, and anthropology will be all over the place. That HS girl had better take a review course.

    I also couldn’t understand some of the bizarre sentence structures in the practice questions. The reading passages reminded me of my HS English teacher warning us not to write that way. Write to be understood, not to impress!

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  55. Google the Match Charter School and you’ll see why!

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  56. What’s the point of even testing if everything is skewed to accommodate someone ?

    Goodhart’s law in action: “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.”
    Because the purpose of education from an employer’s point of view is signalling intelligence and hard work, all these interventions (affirmative action, sports scholarships, reducing the IQ load of the SAT) are reducing the usefulness of high school and college diplomas.

    • Agree: Desiderius
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  57. The Atlantic and TNC have completely gone over to Race Marxism, that’s all there is to it.

    Not only is the general tenor a demand for free education, free health care, free contraception, and free child care and (essentially) free housing, there is also the lingering demand to dismantle the bugaboo of “white privilege.” They also want to put a cap on how much a person can earn.

    Of course the whole thing is insane. Not just because all of this has to be paid for by taxes. The real problem is that if you give everyone everything for free, they have no incentive to do anything. The second problem is that if you safety net every conceivable activity, there is no negative incentive to avoid certain activities, not to mention avoiding sloth.

    Perhaps to the Norman Rockwell list of Four Freedoms (speech, religion, fear, want) we can add a fifth: Freedom from Responsibility.

    Don’t even get me started on what happens when everyone is paid the same, or when we start capping salaries. Does TNC have any idea how collectivist societies actually work (or did not work)? Does he have a clue about how human nature operates? Apparently not.

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  58. Given that the actual question was only paraphrased, I don’t know why you feel confident in making that claim.

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  59. The problem is not TNC, who is acting exactly like one would expect an individual of mediocre intelligence [at least by white standards], raised by black nationalists and given a comfy sinecure to pump out racially inflammatory pablum to put whitey in his place, to act.

    The problem is the (((individuals))) paying him and pushing his writing to the point where the president of the United States (whose anti-white views are overwhelmingly in alignment with Jacketes’) to read it.

    • Agree: SPMoore8
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  60. As a female who had the typical problems with math in high school, I thought the word problems were much harder. Much easier to manipulate a straightforward equation than develop the correct equation yourself.

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  61. Me exactly; geometry and trig I got A. Algebra was always a struggle to get a B. I didn’t get an 800 on my verbal, only 700. But I took it in 1970 when only 3% of the 1.5 million scored 600 or higher. Those were the days when you could count the perfect scores for the whole country using just your fingers.

    I got the high score because my favorite activity was to read. Still is. If you read 4 or 5 hours a day, everyday, you start to understand how and why the words are used. So the analogy section isn’t guessing. I picked up a SAT verbal prep book, said the best way to ace the test was to read; a lot. They weren’t kidding.

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  62. It’s depressing how these hoaxes never seem to hurt the narrative. Racial leftism really is a religion. The belief in “white supremacy” is utterly unfalsifiable. The only rational action at this point is to prepare oneself as best as one can for when TSHTF, because there will be no painless return to sanity, no peaceful resolution, no feelgood victory of reason and sobriety. Africans and their leftist enablers will keep pushing until the pendulum swings back with extreme force

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  63. The way you get to be a McKinsey consultant is by reading through verbose Harvard Business School case studies and extracting the relevant data and plugging it into the proper formulas and models.

    My impression is that David Coleman is legitimately good at thinking about how to think like a McKinsey consultant.

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  64. I thought the same thing. Then again I graduated high school so long ago that I often can’t recall what I knew or didn’t know back then. I do know I never learned any of those things from my school curriculum.

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  65. It suggested the gap may be narrowing.

    You can bet your bottom dollar that studies will suggest, now and forever, that the gap may be narrowing.

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  66. I write engineering exams and my personal opinion is that the tests should simulate real world problems and situations. So my questions tend to be about real situation I find in my professional experience or in trade forums where engineers consult their colleagues and experts. To make it more real, I allow the students to bring textbooks and calculators as well as class notes. The questions include much marginal, irrelevant and misguiding information. The system helps the best and penalizes the dumb, who cannot identify the issue and focus on the real question. They complained and asked for bare questions with letters and numbers, so they could apply the equations (like robots, without knowing what they were doing). After a few semesters, I was asked to return to conventional tests.

    I think the new SAT is an advance, and it will be retired because of complaints.

    • Agree: dc.sunsets, dearieme
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  67. Anonymous, Life math is all about finding the unknown. When you look around a job site, there is no arrow that says “How long does this beam have to be to fit in this space?” A lot of construction is done over the phone. Me…” I need a beam to fit between Column H 1 and H 2 at elevation 354″, they decided to add another steam line and it will hang from this new beam. It’s a trunk off the main steam.” Engineer…”Well, I’ll get out the prints and let you know before the end of the day.” See that’s how math is in real life. To make it a SAT type question I would have emailed my question and he would HAVE TO READ IT.

    • Agree: Jim Don Bob
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  68. The market has rewarded the drivel from Vox & Buzzfeed, so I guess Slate wants in on the racket too.

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  69. It it utterly astonishing what my 4th grade teacher wife reports her SoC (students of color) don’t know, things we just assumed most 10 year olds had absorbed via osmosis.

    The school district used to be 99% white.

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  70. Wish I wrote this. Well stated. And why I have long since stopped reading Slate.

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  71. So this is why the SAT long ago lost its utility in estimating IQ.

    These days the only thing that seems to matter regarding admission to college is a prospective student’s fog-a-mirror ability to sign up for loans. How many schools now are selective enough to give a rat’s ass about the SAT or ACT? It sounds to me like this is just one more legacy system whose purpose long ago evaporated.

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  72. High IQ societies mostly ignore recent tests (GRE, SAT, ACT). See this as an example: http://www.triplenine.org/HowtoJoin/TestScores.aspx

    A few modern tests that are not explicitly “IQ tests” appear to be okay, e.g., the LSAT.

    Here’s Mensa’s table:

    http://us.mensa.org/join/testscores/qualifyingscores/

    Related topic: Every parent hopes his or her kid scores really high on these tests but few realize the costs of doing so. People who qualify for, say, Colloquy (IQ >/= 140, or 99.5th percentile on the tests they accept) often do not skate into great occupations or maintain employment better than people who are simply above average. Rising IQ apparently has but modest effects on permanent income for individuals.

    http://humanvarieties.org/2016/01/31/iq-and-permanent-income-sizing-up-the-iq-paradox/

    Also, high IQ persons, even those with decent interpersonal skills, still seem to find it difficult to “fit in.” This is probably why corporations appear to harbor a distaste for employees that prove “too smart.” A person can waste a lot of time and effort trying to square his or her own circle.

    There are precious few people who provide guidance for the very, very smart-to-near-genius. If your kid qualifies, give these notions some consideration.

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  73. Goodhart’s law in action: “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.”

    I think that’s the issue here. A high math score on the SAT became the target. It seems to be easier to move the needle on the math portion of standardized tests through coaching, prep, and drills. So the test designers obfuscated the math by hiding it behind a thicket of verbiage in an effort to thwart the prep grinds. The question is whether they also reduced its ability to find math talent.

    I think Steve has suggested that some tests embrace the grinds by just having the tests cover a vast range of topics in, say, history or literature. This focuses the grinds into doing something that is arguably useful: mastering the content of a subject instead of figuring out how to game a test.

    The tests seem to be trying to do two things: measure the degree to which a student has been trained, and measure innate talent. Maybe they could stop trying to do two things in one test, and instead just have a test section explicitly designed to measure g. The grinds (and the smart or curious people) could stuff their heads full of facts about Roman history or trig, and do well on that section of the test. The g-loaded portion of the test is used to find clever people who may not have been trained well because of bad schools. Schools can select on either or both criteria. The elite schools will of course demand both, but at the second tier there may be some schools that decide to have a mix of both, or all clever but lazy people.

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  74. My children recently took the PSAT and so I’ve been following it. They are going to be tweaking this thing pretty hard, because they have some serious problems on the right end of the scoring curve, with an abnormal score distribution. I’m sure whatever problems they have with the PSAT they also have with the SAT. For what it’s worth, the PSAT was not as hard as they said it was going to be last January.

    Smart students found the test fairly easy. Average students found it incredibly hard. Scores were supposed to have been released on Dec. 7, but they didn’t come out until Jan. 9, and my gut feeling is that the College Board spent the month wringing their hands trying to figure out how to handle really strange test scores, and I bet a huge racial score gap.

    All of the percentiles they have released have been based on a “sample” of students. It’s become fashionable for students at some schools to prep for the test with a year-long class. If their sample didn’t have any preppers, they are going to be way off the mark.

    I will say the intensive reading is going to penalize some Asians. I know one kid who had a perfect math score, but his Verbal was low enough that I don’t think he is going to qualify for National Merit. On the old test I think he might have made it.

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  75. When tests like these are less about helping young people find a fitting occupational path than they are “My kid’s smarter than your kid” on an individual level and “Racism!” on the collective, they will always be a moving target, much like a loose ball jumping around the field late in the 4th quarter.

    It seems hopelessly naive to wish for a battery of “events” (tests alone are too limited a concept) that would assist proto-adults to identify their aptitudes and indicate potential avenues they might successfully pursue.

    Experience shows that school administrators and guidance counselors have rarely directed their energies in this direction, so the (continuous) contention over College Entrance Exams and the resources soaked up by them (the tests themselves and surrounding contention) are just another contribution to entropy.

    Parents, you’re on your own.

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  76. Analogies and vocabulary are g-loaded, especially analogies.

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  77. View inside J-Pod’s brain:
    .
    .
    .
    .

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  78. Top schools want leaders and alumnae who will change the world and make the school look good.. This includes actors, performers, writers, politicians, industrialists, CEOs, financiers, scholars etc.

    Top schools don’t want 20% Asians simply because they don’t their alumnae to be predominantly quiet nerdy types who go on to become well-paid grinds working as CPAs, lawyers, doctors, bench scientists, mid-level executives, etc.

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  79. h = 60 + 2.5f

    This is obviously in centimeters. With a 50 cm thighbone, the person would be 185 cm which is about six feet tall.

    The math is laughably simple and not much above the level of what my 7-year-old can do. She can add numbers and multiply by 2 already. Only a matter of time before she can multiply by 2.5.

    Words like anthropologist and femur should be understood anyway by students who are bound for college. Obama’ s mother was an anthropologist, Charlie Parker had a number called Anthropology–it is hardly an obscure word.

    But if language is really such a stumbling block, then why not allow students to take the math exam in Mandarin or Tagalog for extra credit? They will still have to pass the English test if they want to go to college in the US.

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  80. I think that’s the issue here. A high math score on the SAT became the target. It seems to be easier to move the needle on the math portion of standardized tests through coaching, prep, and drills. So the test designers obfuscated the math by hiding it behind a thicket of verbiage in an effort to thwart the prep grinds. The question is whether they also reduced its ability to find math talent.

    I think they just want to test whether the students are thinking about the meaning of numbers and not just regurgitating rote learning. I was a lousy student in math in high school, but got very good grades on my final exams of the last year I did math just by perfectly memorizing items like the proof of Pythagoras’s theorem by heart without any understanding at all.

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  81. Please elaborate. My day has been far too sunny so far.

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  82. “It suggests the gap may be narrowing…” Can she please qualify that line a little more – so that it’s completely opaque?

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  83. The guy who, in effect, hired Coleman to do Common Core was Bill Gates, who also personally hired Kinsley to be the founding editor of Gates’ Slate. Moreover, Coleman’s high school debate partner was Hanna Rosin, long a leading Slate writer and wife of Slate’s subsequent top editor, David Plotz.

    It’s nepotism all the way down. Revolution is the only solution,

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  84. They do, at least all the white kids who matter. They get “learning disability accommodations” that mean they take the test untimed, but no one sees that in the grade reports. Any parent on the liberal coasts has already jumped through all the hoops to get their psychologists’ documentation on the supposed LD before they even bough SAT prep.

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  85. Reg Caesar, Sad isn’t, but it won’t be long before there is a star running back in the SEC named Antro’Pologist Wylan-JonesIII .

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  86. http://thezman.com/wordpress/?p=4327

    I used to administer testing for an employer. Those who scored too high would get extra scrutiny. I heard more than a few execs say that you can be too smart for corporate life and they were right.

    There’s a range where the employee can do well, without getting bored or reckless. There are exceptions, but not many. I could spot the problems before getting the results, just by talking to them for a few minutes. I never asked anyone about a turtle in the desert.

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  87. “Scores were supposed to have been released on Dec. 7, but they didn’t come out until Jan. 9″

    We’ll fix it in post-production!

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  88. Does David Coleman ever really test any of his brainstorms before he releases them?

    I’ve read hundreds of articles on Common Core without seeing references to how Coleman’s Common Core was proved in testing before going semi-national. My impression is that he gets really strong feelings that his intuitions are right and that’s good enough for him. (This is not to say that he often is right.)

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  89. I agree. J-pod strikes me as about half as smart as Mickey. Oh, and he’s not funny either.

    • Agree: Jim Don Bob
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  90. “An anti-Asian grind skew to the test?”

    Maybe Jewish girls are tired of Asian girls taking all the good Jewish boys. This should fix it.

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  91. The trouble with any tests of this kind is that it is only valid in terms of what it is trying to achieve. One would expect primarily that the aim would be to identify and differentiate those likely to be successful in college. If the test was highly predictive of how a student would rate in the GRE, the test used for entry to graduate school, that would surely validate the test as a selector for those who will do well in college.

    However there is another problem in test design. Here is an example: the GRE is divided into three parts 1. Verbal, 2. Mathematical, 3. Logical or problem solving. (Or was when I did it.) The maximum score on each section is 800. When I did the test I scored 800 on the verbal section, and in the low 700s on the other two sections.

    However this was not a fair test, because 1) I have a degree in English, therefore the verbal section was easy for me when the test was designed to test the basic literacy of nonspecialists, 2) I was actually a mature person in my 40′s taking a test designed to test young people. 3) I used a prep book to see what type of questions would appear. Had I not done this I might have scored close to zero on the math section, because I would not have understood the current terminology of math, but with a couple of weeks of practice was able to answer quite a few of the questions correctly.

    My niece, on the other hand, obtained an 800 score on the Math section, but this was easy for her as she had an undergraduate degree in physics and to her the math section was child’s play.

    The same is going to apply to some extent when testing at the college entry level. The students who have an interest in literature are going to do very well on the verbal section, and those who are into math will easily ace the math section which mainly consists of simple math problems aimed at the general population.

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  92. hey steve, is a pair of psychometric articles you’ll find amusing:

    The atlantic view of america’s rising ability in math olympiad: make sure to check out the images and the ethnicities:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/03/the-math-revolution/426855/#article-comments

    the reality of the math olympiad team who won:

    http://blog.casact.org/2015/07/29/u-s-wins-math-olympiad-for-first-time-in-21-years-team-proudly-supported-by-the-cas/

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  93. Anonymous
    says:
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    I think Steve has suggested that some tests embrace the grinds by just having the tests cover a vast range of topics in, say, history or literature. This focuses the grinds into doing something that is arguably useful: mastering the content of a subject instead of figuring out how to game a test.

    The Miller Analogies Test, which is an obscure standardized test used by some graduate programs and owned by Pearson Education, a major textbook and education company, does this and is considered a good measure of IQ:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miller_Analogies_Test#Content_and_use

    Unlike analogies found on past editions of the GRE and the SAT, the MAT’s analogies demand a broad knowledge of Western culture, testing subjects such as science, music, literature, philosophy, mathematics, art, and history. Thus, exemplary success on the MAT requires more than a nuanced and cultivated vocabulary.

    But this sort of thing was one of the original criticisms of the SAT which resulted in changes in the test. The SAT was criticized for having words like “regatta” in it.

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  94. Yeah, until you’ve taught a roomful of black students, you don’t really have any idea. My experience was massive gaps, even among the brighter kids. There are three factors at work:

    1. (lack of) Automaticity: this has been a problem for all students due to trendy “technology = progress” Ed policy leading to heavy calculator use at young ages, but it’s been identified and widely addressed in the last ten years in the mostly white schools. I’ve seen classes of (average, white) fifth graders who were more solid mathematically (and, crucially, accurately understood themselves to be so) than other classes of similar high schoolers (i.e. the high schoolers knew they struggled with math, but didn’t know why). The former had the simple advantage of learning their tables instead of relying on a calculator.

    I tell students that using a calculator for simple computation is like reading while having to look up every word in the dictionary. The vast majority of white students appreciate the difference.

    I haven’t seen much progress here in heavily black classrooms. You’ll have students who refuse to add 1+1 without a calculator. It doesn’t help that many of the white progs drawn to teaching blacks consider memorization vaguely conservative or traditional and thus to be discouraged. There are good teachers who get beyond that, but not enough and it is counter-intuitive to a true-believer prog.

    2. Honor culture. I’ve had (relatively) bright black students with good attitudes nonetheless reflexively disrupt class if there is any risk that they might lose face by not knowing an answer to a question or even having a question at all. There are times where going five seconds without interruption is the exception, and classroom discussions can quickly devolve into smack talk back and forth.

    It takes a master classroom manager, crucially backed up by a supportive administration, to maintain the typical learning environment of a white/Asian school in a majority black classroom. The massive gaps in their understanding are likely the result of year(s) spent in a classroom without such a teacher, and/or in schools without such administrators.

    3. Raw mean IQ gap. Most people with 120ish IQs (i.e. those likely to be reading this) tend to underestimate what the average 100 IQ is capable of mastering when they have to, but most of us know some high school dropout who’s a whiz at figures in his business or something like that so we can imagine that “slower” kids are capable of achievement with the right support. That’s accurate for “slower” kids in the 90-110 IQ range. Once you get into the 80s though, it’s a different ballgame, and that’s where the mean black IQ is.

    I had an “intervention” (i.e. low-level) Geometry class at a predominately white high school where we were able to create a good learning environment together and 15 of the 17 kids passed their end-of-year OGTs. The two that didn’t make it were a very hard-working white kid with a 74IQ and a black girl with near perfect attendance who did all her homework and was a model student. I ran into her last year at a nice restaurant downtown where’s she’s already moved up to assistant manager. She never could wrap her mind around the most basic principles of geometry.

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  95. Yes, but is hacking through a screen of lemurs and misanthropy measuring mathematical ability? Or is it just giving a test with a verbal section and a verbal section with some math?

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  96. My impression is that he gets really strong feelings that his intuitions are right

    I have that problem too. Even among students where (some) self-esteem has been warranted (i.e. relatively bright students), the pushing it has been overdone, and the correctives underemployed.

    Heh, passive voice.

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  97. I worked for a summer for a state standardized test grading firm. We’d routinely have state representatives come in mid-grading to change rubrics if they weren’t meeting their numbers.

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  98. It seems hopelessly naive to wish for a battery of “events” (tests alone are too limited a concept) that would assist proto-adults to identify their aptitudes and indicate potential avenues they might successfully pursue.

    Perfect enemy of the good, part bazillion.

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  99. Anthropologie, that be that honkey-ass white girl shop down the City Place in West Palm.

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  100. If the New York Times’ sample questions are representative, this test encourages bad habits.

    In the formulas for word problems, the constants should have units. For example:

    height = age * (3 inches / year) + 26 inches

    But this test is written using one-letter abbreviations, and no explicit units in the equation. For example:

    h = a * 3 + 26

    Half the questions are daring the student to figure out what the missing units are, even as they provide horrible examples of not writing down the units!

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  101. You forgot the part about how your sister makes 13 bucks an hour and works from home on her own schedule. Is you book available on Amazon?

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  102. Relevant, interesting comments that include a plug for your book are welcome.

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  103. Aren’t femurs those cute little primates jumping from tree to tree in Madagascar?

    I thought that was Macaca.

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  104. The most g-loaded section were the analogies, which they got rid of about 10 years ago.

    That’s a shame. That was my favorite part of the SAT verbal section.

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  105. Just saw a cartoon of a sloppy painter putting the following on the window of a doctor’s door:

    PSYCHO
    THE
    RAPIST

    The doctor screams at him, “Psychotherapist is ONE word!!”

    Evidently someone at EWTN poses as “Stanford Nutting”, who’s “spiritual, but not religious”.

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  106. For the essay portion he wrote of an alcoholic father who stomped on his baby turtles.

    So you raised a young liar, or you drink and stomp on turtles. Why should we trust you in either instance?

    And turtles do fight back:

    http://trampledbyturtles.com/

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  107. Anonymous
    says:
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    In terms of famous, prominent people, it seems that blacks, South Asians among Asians, and Jews among whites tend to be overrepresented. South Asian overrepresentation may be a surprise, but consider people in politics, media, and entertainment such as Bobby Jindal, Nikki Haley, Dinesh D’Souza, Reihan Salam, Ramesh Ponnuru, Fareed Zakaria, Mindy Kaling, Aziz Ansari, etc. They also seem to be overrepresented as CEOs and upper management at prominent corporations: http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2014-02-07/news/47126349_1_satya-nadella-indian-institutes-indra-nooyi Whereas East Asians and white gentiles, or perhaps major segments of the white gentile population, seem to be underrepresented.

    To the extent that blacks, South Asians, and Jews are overrepresented as famous, prominent people, it would seem to go with their overrepresentation at top schools, though of course the precise degrees of overrepresentation and how well they match isn’t clear. White gentiles are already underrepresented, while East Asians are overrepresented, so it would seem that East Asian representation would have to be decreased to align more closely with patterns of representation among famous, prominent people.

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  108. Coupla thoughts:

    1) Increasing verbal weight in Math sections might not increase the overall verbal weighting of the whole test, if the Math weighting is heavier. Not sure how ultimately they will hash out the subsections to get the overall score.

    Even still, kinda blunts the potential for “Reading sucks, he has a high Math SAT though”, as the Math alone would discriminate less from verbal ability. That affects specific people more than groups though.

    2) More verbal questions with concrete situations could increase engagement with questions by less abstract thinkers, rather than necessarily giving an advantage to high verbal ability thinkers. Or maybe it helps abstract thinkers who can cut to the heart of a problem, and disadvantages the concrete thinkers who get caught in the canopy.

    • Agree: Desiderius
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  109. This is typical McKinsey. Having done their PST, I know exactly what the philosophy is – an emphasis on applied rather than calculation. I welcome it.

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  110. Centimeters perhaps?

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  111. You know, we could argue all year about what difference at this point this will make, to quote one of the presidential candidates. But I really don’t think this will make a significant difference. I think the smart kids will adjust well, the stupid ones won’t, and the world will be as it was again.

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  112. The new version of the SAT/PSAT stopped deducting points for wrong answers. So theoretically the traditional low scorers should have narrowed the gap. However, the large amount of reading needed would eliminate any benefit.

    As mentioned earlier, scores can be manipulated. Standardized exams typically start with a raw score that is manipulated into a final score that we mortals see. Every AP course has its own wiki page and despite more challenged people taking AP exams than ever, the percentage that receives one of the five scores and the overall average score remains fairly stable from year to year.

    A 65 out of 100 is needed to pass the New York state Algebra I Regents exam. That can be accomplished by answering 35 percent of the questions correctly. http://www.nysedregents.org/algebraone/615/algone62015-cc.pdf

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