The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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From the New York Times: It's worth noting that according to the Stanford Education Data Archive of school test scores, which I wrote about for Taki's Magazine last spring, Morris has the 94th worst white-black test score gap out of more than 2000 school districts nationwide. Morris's white-Hispanic test score gap is even more of... Read More
A general assumption of the moderate conventional wisdom over the last half century is that average black performance is dragged down by specific impediments, such as poverty, crime, culture of poverty, parental taciturnity, lead paint, or whatever. One would therefore expect blacks without those impediments to score equal with whites. But a close inspection of... Read More
One of the older, more nagging conundrums for anybody interested in education and demographics is the lack of readily available meaningful data on how high school students do by state and by race on high stakes tests such as the SAT and ACT college admissions tests. The federal government invests a lot of money in... Read More
Over the years, I've given Michael Bloomberg a hard time. Why? Well, the billionaire New York City mayor who likes to claim that he has "the seventh-largest army in the world" seems like a worthy foe. One of Bloomberg's boasts has been that, based on rising test scores, he had fixed the New York City... Read More
Something I noticed last year when looking at 2009 PISA school achievement scores is the virtual non-existence of Mexico's intellectual elite. Mexico's average scores on this school achievement test of 15-year-olds were mediocre, but the lack of high end scores was startling, compared to a similar scoring country like Turkey, where there is a definite... Read More
The conventional wisdom expressed in Obama Administration speeches and the like is that American students get crushed by kids in China and India on international tests of school achievement. But the evidence for this is not as abundant as you might assume ... especially not for India. While the city of Shanghai shot the lights... Read More
The traditional concept of college admissions was that the goal was to predict applicants' future achievement (which could be measured in terms of first year in college grades or money donated 50 years later or whatever). The most obvious way to predict future achievement was past achievement: e.g., high school grades. Presumably, past achievement had... Read More
The Unsilenced Silence blog has a good graph of Asian v. white SAT scores from 1996 to 2010 in terms of gaps in standard deviations:
The oldest SAT score report on the College Board website is from 1996, right after the "recentering" in 1995 that raised scores about 100 points on a 400 to 1600 scale. Over the last 15 years, the average overall score on the original two-part Verbal + Math SAT (i.e., ignoring the new-fangled Writing section of... Read More
From FairTest: 2011 College-Bound Seniors Avg SAT Scores W/score changes from 2006 READING MATH WRITING TOTAL ALL 497 (-6) 514 (-4) 489 (-8) 1500 (-18) Female 495 (-7) 500 (-2) 496 (-6) 1491 (-15) Male 500 (-5) 531 (-5) 482 (-9) 1513 (-19) Asian 517 (+7) 595 (+17)
From the Boston Globe:For the four years I taught the AP English and composition course at English High, many of my students were victims of t
John Deasy, formerly of the Gates Foundation, took command yesterday as Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District. The LA Daily News reports on today's front page:I'm as stumped as John Deasy is. Whoever heard of a school where Asians outscore Latinos on average? Clearly, it can't have anything to do with, say, the... Read More
Measuring teachers by how much value they add to their students' tests scores is an idea that I advocated back in the last millennium, and has since become the state of the art conventional wisdom, and, now, it is being implemented into universal law in Colorado, all without anybody actually showing it does a whole... Read More
The more the conventional wisdom denounces standardized testing, the more money there is to be made in standardized testing. For example, the whole world decided about a decade ago that filling in ovals with a Number 2 pencil couldn't possibly be a good test of Critical Thinking skills, so essays were added to many tests,... Read More
In the Washington Post, sportswriter Sally Jenkins * writes: [Indianopolis Colt's executive Bill] Polian made one of the great all time decisions in 1998 when he drafted Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf. It's a no brainer now but it was an agonizing choice back then. Leaf was bigger and more overtly athletic, but to Polian,... Read More
The spread of Advanced Placement tests has been mostly a success story in recent decades (e.g., they provide a fashionable rationalization for tracking), but Advanced Placement classes tend to be forced marches to try to get high school students to more or less memorize a lot of material: lots of worksheets, little time for class... Read More
Jay Matthews delivers breathtaking news in the Washington Post: acceptance rates to get into Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, perhaps the hardest public science school in the country (average exiting SAT score of 2220 out of 2400):So,  Asians first, whites second, Hispanics third, blacks fourth. What an astonishing result! Who has ever... Read More
At Super-Economy, Tino takes another crack at PISA scores, putting up graphs that overcome two of the weaknesses I pointed out in my own PISA graph: I could only find scores for America by race for 2009 for reading (and Americans overall did better on reading in 2009 than on science and math), and I... Read More
You always come across smug dismissals of The Bell Curve as being discredited, but you never hear explanations from them of why the U.S. military has put such emphasis on cognitive testing for several generations now. In fact, I once interviewed the retired head pscyhometrician of one of the major branches of the military, who... Read More
My big graph showing how the four main American races would do compared to 64 other countries in this year's PISA reading test scores is up at published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer
I'm reading the book Fault Lines by former IMF chief economist Raghuram G. Rajan of the U of Chicago economics dept. It's a pretty good read, but what struck me while flipping through it is that it's solid text: no quantitative graphics, no tables of numbers, just paragraphs. The sole thing to interrupt the flow... Read More
Taksin Nuoret writes:Damn, why didn't anybody in the U.S. ever think of having substitute teachers?  Anyway, Nuoret goes on to make the argument that perhaps Finnish is an easier language for kids to learn in than many other languages. He notes that Estonians, the other Finno-Ugric-speaking country, also do better than expected on PISA, and... Read More
It's interesting to look at California SAT scores over time. The farthest back data on the College Board site for the state of California is 1998, so I'll contrast 1998 to 2010. Overall, the mean score in California has dropped 3 points from 1520 to 1517 on a 600 to 2400 point scale. (Because the... Read More
With all the interest (264 comments and counting) generated by the huge number of Chinese and Korean names among the national merit semifinalists (top 0.5%) on the PSAT in California, here are the latest SAT scores from California. Interestingly, in California, whites average slightly higher than Asians / Pacific Islanders, both on the traditional M+V... Read More
Real estate agents famously keep track of test scores in school districts, although it's not clear which is the leading and which the lagging indicator: public school test scores or home prices. It would seem like a consulting firm might profit by creating a statistical model alerting them to arbitrage opportunities where public school test... Read More
In the comments to my recent post on the Golden Age of Test Creation, Mitch points me to Linda Darling-Hammond, the prominent Ed Schooler from the Stanford Ed School, explaining how better tests would make American students smarter:This kind of testing would clearly pay for itself just from the patent rights to the anti-viral drugs... Read More
Psychometrics is a relatively mature field of science, and a politically unpopular one. So you might think there isn't much money to be made in making up brand new standardized tests. Yet, there is. From the NYT: <nyt_byline> Standardized exams — the multiple-choice, bubble tests in math and reading that have played a growing role... Read More
See if you can spot the fallacy in the following. I'll explain what's wrong with this logic afterwards.From Inside Higher Ed:New Evidence of Racial Bias on SATA new study may revive arguments that the average test scores of black students trail those of white students not just because of economic disadvantages, but because some parts... Read More
Americans have devoted an enormous amount of effort over the centuries to devising useful baseball statistics. In recent years, Americans have talked a lot about devising useful educational statistics. For example, I've pointed out a million times over the last decade that it doesn't make much sense to judge teachers, schools, or colleges by their... Read More
Almost a decade ago, President Bush and Senator Kennedy got together and pushed through the No Child Left Behind act, which mandated that every single child in America would score "Proficient" or "Advanced" on reading and writing by 2013-2014, and told the states to concoct, administer, and grade their own tests to demonstrate this (nudge,... Read More
Can sending star teachers into slum schools close the racial gap in school achievement? Can teachers be fairly evaluated by how much their students' test scores went up from last spring to this spring? Both ideas are very fashionable these days. I want to evaluate both theoretically, using a simple model with two assumptions: First,... Read More
Half Sigma points to an Atlantic article by Amanda Ripley "What Makes a Great Teacher?" discussing the research by the Teach for America charity into how to predict which college senior applicants for teaching jobs will most boost their kids test scores:Superstar teachers had four other tendencies in common: they avidly recruited students and their... Read More
The NYTimes describes a study of 600 Belgian college freshman who entered a seven year medical training program (i.e., combining what in the U.S. would be undergrad pre-med and medical school). The article focuses on the additional knowledge gained by giving a Big Five personality test on top of a cognitive test:In the U.S. setting,... Read More
From the New York Times, an extremely typical news story. I'll let you decipher it, and will just point out that this new study is based on one of the same datasets as I used in my May 30, 2009 article last spring bringing together the most recent available scores for the Big Five... Read More
The New York Times holds a discussion on whether too many Advanced Placement courses and/or tests are being offered to high school students.Leaving aside for the moment the more subtle issues (some of which are explored surprisingly well in the discussion), I noticed in the NYT's comments a "B.P." who makes one helluva case for... Read More
As I've mentioned, one of the rules of polite journalism in discussing testing firefighters is to assume that paper and pencil tests must be irrelevant to the obviously moronic job of spraying water on burning buildings. Never refer to the voluminous data assembled over the decades by the Pentagon on the relationship between performance on... Read More
Lynn O'Shaughnessy has a good article in the NYT on "The Other Side of 'Test Optional'" about why the growing trend toward some colleges not requiring SAT or ACT scores is more of a ratings scam than, as it's usually presented, a rebuke of the culturally biased obsession with trivial testing.For example, Dickinson College in... Read More
At the heart of the Ricci case, which Judge Sonia Sotomayor attempted to bury so that it couldn't be appealed when she heard it by upholding the lower court's anti-Ricci decision without an opinion (outraging her mentor Judge Jose Cabranes), is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Four-Fifths Rule.This regulation says that on any employment test,... Read More
Following up last night's article on Advanced Placement testing, I've been mulling some more over the problem off how to find the easiest Advanced Placement tests for high school students to pass in order to get free college credit. All AP Tests are fairly hard, but which ones take the minimum combination of IQ,... Read More
With Iran much in the news, it's interesting to take a look at the most influential Iranian community in the U.S.:While the Persian Jews of Beverly Hills certainly make (and spend) lots of money, it's not clear if the Oriental Jews of Beverly Hills will follow their Ashkenazi Jewish predecessors into more intellectual pursuits.I don't... Read More
In the wake of the Sputnik wake-up call in 1957, two of America's most distinguished technical managers, Admiral Hyman Rickover of the nuclear submarine navy and chemist James Conant, President of Harvard, debated how to improve schooling. Rickover advocated that America imitate the European system of separate schools for academic and vocational students based on... Read More
Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

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