26 August 2009

SAT Scores Fall, Illegitimacy Rates Rise

Educators want to know why SAT scores continue to fall in most segments of the US high school test taking population. They particularly wish to know why scores are rising among Asian-Americans at the same time they are falling in other ethnic groups -- particulary among African Americans.
Data on the breakdowns by race and ethnicity show a widening gap between Asian American test takers and other groups. Adding all three portions of the SAT, Asian Americans gained 13 points, while American Indians gained 2 points and all others lost. Last year, Asian Americans led only with the mathematics average, but this year their average score overtook that of white students on writing, too.

These ethnic gaps are crucial for both educational reasons and political ones. Many of the growing number of colleges that are going SAT-optional have expressed discomfort with tests on which there are such stark -- and growing -- differences in averages by race and ethnicity. _InsideHigherEd
Some educational consultants suggest that the "Asian Advantage" should be studied, and -- if possible -- bottled for resale.

Al Fin readers understand that East Asian IQs average a third of a standard deviation higher than European IQs, which average one full standard deviation higher than African American IQs. But there is more to the educational and test score gaps than raw intelligence. There is also the issue of family support and encouragement.

The illegitimacy rates for births among African Americans is roughly 70%. Among Hispanic Americans it is near 50%. Among European Americans the illegitimacy rate is around 30%, and among Asian Americans it is under 10%.

A child that starts out with a father is more likely to stay out of poverty, out of prison, off of welfare, and less likely to contribute to illegitimacy and the cycle of poverty himself. In other words, illegitimacy contributes to poverty and poverty in turn can perpetuate illegitimacy -- if the poverty is internalised into the child's psyche.

Scores in all categories increased with the family's income level. Part of this difference may be attributed to a greater use of professional test prep materials and services by upper middle class and upper class students. But motivated parents and students can download professional grade test prep materials from the internet, and work together to provide preparation without spending large sums of money.

Of course single parents without family support themselves will find it difficult to go the extra mile to help their children.

It is too easy to blame underachievement of NAMs on low IQ. Illegitimacy and lack of commitment to family can account for a significant part of achievement gaps. If a parent can teach his child "grit" and determination, they will have done at least half their job. But they have to be there.

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