Schools

Achievement Gap Between Rich and Poor Public School Students Unchanged Over 50 Years

Spending four times more in real dollars per pupil doesn't compensate for low-quality teaching.

|

FailBradCalkinsDreamstime
Brad Calkins/Dreamstime

Half a century of trying hasn't closed one of schooling's most vexing achievement gaps. According to a new paper, the gap in educational achievement between public school students in the bottom 10th socioeconomic status (SES) percentile and those in the top 90th SES percentile has remained essentially unchanged over the last 50 years.

"In terms of learning, students at the 10th SES percentile remain some three to four years behind those in the 90th percentile," report a team of researchers led by the Stanford economist Eric Hanushek in their disheartening new National Bureau of Economic Research study, "The Unwavering SES Achievement Gap."

It would be one thing, the researchers note, that "if all achievement were rising, i.e., if a rising tide was lifting all boats." But that's not what's happening. Young adolescents' performance has risen over the past 50 years, but their scores drift downward once they reach high school. The upshot is that there has been no significant improvement in the overall education achievement scores of American high school student cohorts born since the 1950s.

The researchers draw upon data from four periodically administered assessments of U.S. student performance: the Program for International Student Assessment, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Survey, and two versions of the National Assessment of Educational Progress. They then divvy up the student cohorts based their parental socioeconomic status.

The researchers calculate the standard deviation between the scores of each socioeconomic cohort to compare how far the average achievement scores of students clustered in the top 10 and 25 percent of SES percentiles are from the scores of those students aggregated into the bottom 10 and 25 percentiles of SES. A declining standard deviation would mean that the gaps between the cohorts' scores are closing. That is not what they find.

As they report at Education Next, the socioeconomic achievement gap among the 1950s birth cohorts is very large—about 1.0 standard deviations between those in the top and bottom deciles of the socioeconomic distribution (the 90–10 gap) and around 0.8 standard deviations between those in the top and bottom quartiles (the 75–25 gap). Measuring cohorts of students born since the 1950s, the SES gap closes by about 0.5 standard deviations for students under age 14. But those gains among young adolescents disappear almost entirely by the time students reach age 17.

The persistence of the SES gap remains when the researchers compare only white students over time, and they take into account such factors as the changing ethnic makeup of American school children.

The researchers note that these disappointing results occurred despite the fact that "overall school funding increased dramatically on a per pupil basis, quadrupling in real dollars between 1960 and 2015." In addition, pupil-teacher ratios declined from 22.3 in 1970 to 16.1 in 2014.

Why do these gaps persist? The authors suggest that any negative impacts stemming from rise of single-parent families may well be offset by factors that correlate with better educational outcomes, such as fewer siblings and the fact that today's parents in general are better educated. They hypothesize that a steep decline in the quality of teachers is likely a big factor.

"Because cognitive skills as measured by standard achievement tests are a strong predictor of future income and economic well-being, the unwavering achievement gaps across the SES spectrum do not bode well for improvements in intergeneration mobility in the future," they observe. "Perhaps more disturbingly, the U.S. has introduced and expanded a set of programs designed to lessen achievement gaps through improving the education of disadvantaged students, but they individually and collectively appear able to do little to close gaps beyond offsetting the probable decline in teacher quality in schools serving lower SES students."

In light of these findings, Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson makes some useful suggestions: "The national strategy of controlling the country's schools—through subsidies and regulatory requirements—has prevailed for half a century. It has failed. The federal government should exit the business of overseeing K-12 education.

Samuelson adds, "We should let states and localities see whether they can make schools work better. The grandiose fix-it national plans are mostly exercises in political marketing. We need solutions, not slogans."

But much more needs to be and can be done. As former Reason Foundation director of education policy Lisa Snell has pointed out:

Private school students have performed higher on NAEP exams and increasing evidence shows that both charter schools and private choice programs are improving student performance—especially for the most disadvantaged students.

We've seen little change in school performance for our pubic high school seniors, despite soaring education costs in traditional public schools. But school choice and competition show promise to improve outcomes for students by allowing families to find the schools and education services that best match their needs. Healthy competition can keeps schools focused on improving the quality of their services to students.

Competition drives continuous improvement in the quality of goods and services in every other part of our economy. It can do the same for educating America's children too.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

146 responses to “Achievement Gap Between Rich and Poor Public School Students Unchanged Over 50 Years

  1. Hmmm…have they tried spending more money?

    “The politics of failure have failed! We need to make them work again!”

    1. We need to fail harder!

    2. “”We must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!”

    3. Why is there no blame or investigation into the parents, communities, and families of the bottom 10%?

      Maybe we have crappier teachers AND crappier parents? I’d tend to put more responsibility on the families and communities in which they reside than i would the school/govt itself. I had some very dumb teachers in my day, but the teachers can’t change the pages of the book.

      Let’s also not forget, a good chunk of the increase in school spending is simply on programs that cover for parenting. Free breakfast and lunches for parents too dumb to provide food for their children, after school day care programs, psychological counseling and health care, etc.

      Until certain cultural segments of our country start to value education and self-reliance again, nothing will change. The responsibility is on the people, not the government.

      1. I’d add classroom discipline policies. School choice benefits from serious people being serious about education. Being shoved into a district school means people who don’t care are flucking things up.

        If you can’t remove disruptive students, everyone else loses.

      2. This. “Equality of outcomes” is never, ever going to happen for families who do not value education and make their child’s achievement and well-being their top priority. It doesn’t matter how “good” the teachers are. It doesn’t matter if you have celebrity chefs catering your all-organic vegan locavore school cafeteria. It doesn’t matter how much you throw at public education: a family that doesn’t make education and achievement a priority in their homes is going to have a low-performing loser for a kid.

  2. If it wasn’t for the teacher’s unions, I could quite possibly still be teaching AP physics. I just got sick of getting paid the same as the girl’s PE coach or the freshman English teacher who can barely spell simply due to the collective bargaining agreement.

    So I went back to the private sector and now make WELL over twice as much (close to 3x) money.

    1. And until voucher can be implimented, scholarship funds. Anybody know of any good ones in the Philly area? I’m cash tight now, but would love to contribute something, and tight won’t go on forever….

    2. A step toward vouchers is to eliminate school districts and just administer government schools centrally through the state. The poor districts would no longer be a separate district. Each would be just another school within the state. It may seem like some as the wrong direction, but I think it’s actually a step toward opening the system up.

      1. Local people should have very little say in how government works.

      2. I think the problems would outweigh the benefits

        1. Yes. Another layer of bureaucracy usually makes things worse.

    3. The public should not subsidize parents whose preferred schools teach nonsense, disdain science, censor, and warp history, usually to flatter childish superstition.

      Anti-government malcontents probably do not apprehend this point, which is part of why society has rejected them, causing them to become disaffected, and stomped their autistic asses in the culture war.

      Carry on, clingers. But without government money to fund nonsense, as America improves.

      1. I’m glad to see that you agree that public school should be released from the iron grip of leftist dogma.

      2. Hmmm-government funding has increased five fold
        For
        Public schools since 1960 according to the article which you apparently didn’t read and schools have NOT improved. I live in one of those hoity toity deep blue metropolises you so worship, Rev and anyone who can afford to sends their kids to private schools

      3. According to the data cited in this article, America (with respect to schools) is not improving.

      4. Aww, someone needs a nap.

        The only ones that we see censoring are left – no ideas that don’t agree with dogma. Global warming case is closed (Because that is how science works). Let’s sing songs to Obama! It’s ok to have trans story time (in Houston) with two convicted pedophiles.

        The only bitter clinger I see is you Rev. You must live a sorry life.

  3. This focus on the “achievement gap” stagnation seems to obscure the much greater problem that aggregate performance has also been basically flat for the past 50 years despite massive spending increases and literally decades of academic research into what works and what doesn’t.

    In what other field is it still acceptable to have the same performance as your predecessors did a half-century ago? Not agriculture. Not manufacturing. Even barbers are expected to do more with less. Why do we continue to tolerate such inefficiency and parochialism in the educational sector?

    1. aggregate performance has also been basically flat for the past 50 years

      Facts not in evidence. I don’t disagree that the spending has been overwhelming relative to any given payout and there should be considerable questions about our efforts to reduce inequalities, but to act like the number of first graders who could read and write in the 1950s is roughly proportionate to the number of first graders who could read and write in 2014 is a bit misleading. Not saying that this is precisely what you’ve said, but the question could, just as validly and accurately be framed, “If we *can* educate a greater proportion of kids at twice the rate as 20 yrs. ago, why are we keeping them in school for the same duration at cost?”

      1. According to the article above, the facts are in evidence.

        “The upshot is that there has been no significant improvement in the overall education achievement scores of American high school student cohorts born since the 1950s.”

        Granted, that’s a fairly short and conclusory statement. But it seems quite unambiguous. Do you have any evidence to dispute it?

        Related, do you have any evidence that the number of first graders who could read and write in the 1950s is not roughly proportionate to the number of first graders who could read and write in 2014? I ask because the only evidence I’ve seen so far for that proposition was tied to advocacy for public television (the so-called Sesame Street effect). That evidence was rather weak.

        1. Granted, that’s a fairly short and conclusory statement. But it seems quite unambiguous. Do you have any evidence to dispute it?

          Unless you know what the achievement scores are testing, it’s exceedingly ambiguous with regard to absolute progress. Being more clear; depending on your POV, aggregate performance being basically flat is the goal.

          It’s not disputed that more people, both absolutely and relatively, complete HS now than in 1950. It’s not disputed that any given curriculum in 1950 *may’ve* had Algebra II as an option where as the same curriculum had Algebra I & II as a requirement for a more protracted mathematics program beginning in the late 50s and early 60s. I’m a little baffled that you act like I’m making dubious assertions in this regard.

          You can look at population demographics for literacy today and see that people 60 and older (who would’ve been educated in the 50s) have a significantly lower literacy rate than those in their 50s and the 50s over 40s in turn. If stagnation were the case and illiteracy were a detriment to standard of living, you’d think it would be the opposite as illiterate people presumably wouldn’t live as long. The literacy rate nationwide plateaued in the late 80s and it became apparent then that in order to continue to raise the rate, we’d have to start educating adults.

        2. I should note that my point doesn’t exactly undermine the disparity and only rephrases your befuddlement. In what other field would you ignore the benefits that could be made from low-hanging fruit in order to ensure that you harvested all the fruit? If you, over the course of 50 yrs. managed to take manufacturing process that took 12 yrs. to complete and reduced it to 6 yrs. for 80% of your products, why would you continue to keep all your product ‘in production’ for 12 full years? Moreover, why would we keep 80% of the product on the shelf well past it’s freshness date at an ever increasing cost?

      2. How first graders do is irrelevant. Pushing things forward to younger ages doesn’t help if teenagers aren’t learning more now than they did in the past.

        Which is why you see this “the SES gap closes by about 0.5 standard deviations for students under age 14. But those gains among young adolescents disappear almost entirely by the time students reach age 17.”

        Because you can teach almost anyone 4th grade stuff if you try hard enough, but a substantial portion of people will never be able to pass algebra II

        1. “the SES gap closes by about 0.5 standard deviations for students under age 14. But those gains among young adolescents disappear almost entirely by the time students reach age 17.”

          The problem is clearly in high schools. More specifically, urban high schools.

          My guess is that discipline is the core issue. Teachers and administrators have been hamstrung in their ability to punish kids. Those kids disrupt the entire school.

          Any better ideas?

        2. How first graders do is irrelevant. Pushing things forward to younger ages doesn’t help if teenagers aren’t learning more now than they did in the past.

          First, it’s not irrelevant. There are obviously exceptions and ways to work out of it, but if you’re underperforming as a 1st grader, odds are you’re underperforming as a 2nd grader and on. Moreover, I’m not suggesting we push things forward to younger ages, that’s already happened and in some cases been shown to be beneficial. The old-school rote phonemics drills to develop reading skills of 1st and 2nd graders years past has been supplanted by phonetics and ‘whole language’ (sight word) skills in kindergartners.

          Second, it’s only irrelevant if you consider it within the construct you yourself claim to be defective. Because we require students to attend HS for 12 full years it’s a bit irrelevant how much/little they learn in that 12 yrs. One solution is to somehow do that 12 yrs. better. Another solution is to do something other (less) than 12 full years.

  4. The persistence of the SES gap remains when the researchers compare only white students over time

    “Only white” by the 1950s definition or the 2014+ definition?

    I need to know where to put people like Ben Shapiro, Slash, and Gabrielle Reese before I can make an accurate judgement on whether this study is just racist or *really* racist.

    1. In what possible way does that make the study racist?

    1. Is that as well sourced as their UVA rape story?

    2. Is that as well sourced as their UVA rape story?

    3. Get rid of public schools. Problem solved.

      1. I think disaffected right-wingers will die off before America closes its public schools.

        I am content.

        1. I think it’s now obvious that the Rev is a public school administrator (not teacher, because he would have to have some minimal skill or ability).

          1. not teacher, because he would have to have some minimal skill or ability

            Facts not in evidence.

    4. TOO LATE, the left long ago took over public schools and education. That is why it is only getting worse.

      1. The left = your betters, clinger.

        1. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    5. Haven Monahan is behind it all!

  5. “”Spending four times more in real dollars per pupil doesn’t compensate for low-quality teaching.””

    Nor does it compensate for low-quality students.

    Not sure why we think better or higher paid teachers will change the minds of students not interested in doing the work to make good grades.

    1. There’s an intermediate group between those who would excel anywhere and those who would excel nowhere.

      Some kids are capable of being motivated and doing better.

    2. Yes, that struck me: It’s as though there were some ideological command that they not consider the effects of low-quality parenting, for instance.

    3. Or low-quality parents. I’d bet there’s a stronger emphasis on education in wealthier households.

    4. Or low-quality parenting.

    5. ^^ this ^^. We can throw ten times more money into it, but with apathetic and sometimes outright belligerent parents telling little Johnny they are great and the teacher is stupid/not showing up for parent-teacher conferences/lack of supervision/poor nutrition/gangs/etc…good luck. It will take a change in culture, community, parenting, motivation, etc. Some teachers suck. I had several. Still I worked hard or my parents would have had my ass. Money and teachers are only a small part of the child’s overall learning. Private schools do better mostly because the parents hold education with high esteem. They investigated where was best, pay for it, and hold interest in whether their children succeed. This involvement is the biggest difference from the public schools, especially at middle and high school levels.

    6. The motivation is immediacy. Prepping someone for a college education who didn’t eat breakfast or dinner is not likely the best use of resources (and I’d argue those students know it, too).

      School choice should also offer college and vocational path choices again.

  6. The researchers draw upon data from four periodically administered assessments of U.S. student performance:

    It might be interesting to see the questions on the tests they were administering 50 years ago and 25 years ago and today. I’m guessing the educational proficiency tests of 50 years ago stuck pretty closely to the 3 R’s, some basic science and history and that’s about it because that’s what schools were teaching back in the day. Now you have to cram in classes on diversity and transgenderism and social justice and environmentalism and the patriarchy and who the hell’s got time for learning even a little about chemistry and calculus and Charlemagne?

    1. J: The tests are “intertemporally linked.” The researchers explain: (By “intertemporally linked,” we mean that the test makers in each of these assessments design the tests to be comparable over time by doing things such as repeating some of the same questions across different waves.)

    2. “”Now you have to cram in classes on diversity and transgenderism and social justice and environmentalism”‘

      I doubt failing students are any better at completing homework assignments and turning them in on time for these courses either.

      1. But my point was that if you spend the school day on 4 subjects, you’re probably going to do a better job of learning those 4 subjects than if you’re trying to learn 10. It’s the same mission creep trap that all government agencies seem to fall into – as long as we’re here doing this, we might as well do that as well, and as long as we’re here doing this and that, we might as well do the other thing, too. And now you’ve got schools that act as daycare centers and health clinics and commissaries and welfare offices and youth activity centers and God knows what all. You’re there to teach kids how to read and write and do basic math first and foremost, let’s focus on getting that goal accomplished before we do anything else.

      2. I suspect you may be overestimating the magnitudes of the “fluff” classes.

        My kids graduated from high school a few years ago. Their biggest problem was that after you crammed in all the STEM classes, there wasn’t time for any fun classes. No gender studies, a (elective) semester of AP Environmental Science for one, a few other things here and there. By by and large, all the classes were your classic English, foreign language, math, science, and history.

        As near as I can tell, they had about as academically rigorous education as I had (and I graduated in ’81). They may have spent a few hours here and there on PC topics but that was largely lost in the noise.

    3. Spot-on, Jerryskids. Much in-class time in “modern” schools is spent indoctrinating children with the left’s agenda or going on field trips that are fun to both students and teachers. Meanwhile, the drudgery of teaching what used to be considered core material is primarily left to the parents, many whom are forced to home-school their children in the evenings, because teachers can’t use their “valuable” class time going over this material. That was my experience, at least, in my child’s school. I found at least 2/3 of the teachers we came in contact incompetent and extremely arrogant – both in public and private schools.

      1. Most damaging of all is the propaganda about global warming. It is a complete undermining of the scientific method and skeptical inquiry.

  7. This problem will never be solved as long as one of the most important drivers is utterly prohibited from being studied. Even the most brief mention of it immediately brands you a racist not fit for serious discussion.

    The driver: there are significant biological differences in intelligence between socioeconomic groups. These differences are inheritable. Lower intelligence is an important reason for the different socioeconomic outcomes in the first place.

    As long as they keep assuming that all little brains are the same and that more money will solve it, they will fail. Just as this shows.

    1. I respectfully disagree. The social mobility within the US over time is rebuttal proof of your assertion. Also countering your conclusions are the comparative studies of twins adopted by different families (and into different socioeconomic groups).

      I do not consider you a racist for your opinion but I do think you are considerably behind the current research into the heritability of intelligence.

      1. Researchers have found a stupid gene.
        http://tinyurl.com/y2q9479o

      2. I could be behind. But when I read recent stuff on this, it seems to me that they are always straining to never mention anything about biological intelligence.

        I was under the impression that social mobility has lessened over time. Twin studies are always interesting. I’ll have to read more of those. I had the impression that sample sizes are small.

        1. My understanding of the science is there’s no biological basis for “race”. The cosmetic differences we see between races are a small and minor subset of the genetic variation between humans. To put it another way, if you group humans by genetic variation, you wouldn’t wind up with groups which look like the racial groups we invent. So let’s put that to the side.

          The issue I have with your question is we have no good, objective ways to measure intelligence. IQ tests may measure something but I don’t think people agree that’s all there is to intelligence. Or in other words, there are things which make someone intelligent which aren’t captured by an IQ test.

          So until we have a good measurement for intelligence, I don’t think we can dig into your question of whether there’s an intelligence difference between rich and poor people. You could try measuring some specific aspects of intelligence (e.g. math ability) but I don’t think you’d start by hypothesizing rich people are better at math than poor people.

          1. We do have a good way. Brain reaction time. It correlates with the paper tests and is intrinsic.

            1. Yup. And there are many others.

          2. IQ is not the only factor and perhaps not even the most important. You need self-discipline, persistence, etc. If you are a lazy bum with a high IQ, you still won’t very successful in life.

            1. DarrenM, true. But intelligence is an important factor. It’s kind of like the base and those other factors have to be strong to over come a deficit there.

          3. “My understanding of the science is there’s no biological basis for “race”. ”

            Yet 23andMe accurately predicts where my ancestors are from.

            Weird.

            Races are clusters in gene spaces, as are ethnicities. People denying that such clustering exists are denying the most basic facts of biology.

            “Or in other words, there are things which make someone intelligent which aren’t captured by an IQ test.”

            There are lots of things not captured by my height too. Doesn’t mean it’s not a useful measurement.

            Observing people deny basic facts of reality because of social taboo is both fascinating and terrifying.

          4. To put it another way, if you group humans by genetic variation, you wouldn’t wind up with groups which look like the racial groups we invent.

            This is completely false. Population geneticists have been making charts showing genetic data from different groups of people for decades, and it clusters basically as you would expect.

            This says nothing about the biological *importance* of race, but it’s trivially easy to see at the genetic level

            1. Well here’s two actual genetic world maps showing ‘clusters’ of the only two possible genes in individuals that can be inherited as a group (called haplogroups) – from the father Y haplogroups map and from the mother mitochondrial haplogroups map.

              While there are certainly obvious differences by regions that is merely a statement of the obvious – that historically men/women have tended to mate with those who live nearby. And that at least while we were migratory/nomadic more genetic diversity cames to us more from our mothers than our fathers (ie males compete for mates and fewer survive to mate and that results in polygyny being more common than polyandry). Duh.

              But there is not a single one of those pies anywhere that could be considered ‘pure’ or a pie that is whole. And that would be a requirement for anything to be genetically defined as ‘race’. The closest is native Americans of Central/South America who descend from a tiny ‘founder’ male population. So even then only one side could be called ‘race’.

              Race is a social construct.

              1. But there is not a single one of those pies anywhere that could be considered ‘pure’ or a pie that is whole. And that would be a requirement for anything to be genetically defined as ‘race’.

                No, that would be racial purity. We know that no group is ‘pure’ in that sense. But there are groups of genes who correlate with the sociological ‘definition ‘ of race. Race could be defined by the correlation, if you want that. That’s what 23andMe does.

                1. Correlations are not inherited. Nor is anything statistical since everything statistical can only apply to a large group of people.

                  If something is going to be defined genetically as ‘race’, then it must be defined entirely as a specific combo of a particular Y haplogroup and a particular X haplogroup. eg you might call a child with an R1 father (50-80% of the WestEuro peeps on that map) and an H mother (35-50% of WestEuro peeps on that map) as ‘white’. But what that really means is that even then (and those maps are all estimates of 1500 – before ‘global exploration’ really mix things up) only 20-40% of the European population then could have been considered ‘white’.

                  And for you Americans who believe that shit is important, there’s no reason to believe that is the group that exclusively migrated to the Americas.

                  You can’t ‘make exceptions’ or broaden those haplogroups to include other haplogroups nearby and still have that be considered ‘genetic’. Even a scientifically designed orgy with the exact mix of different Y haplotypes and X halotypes as participants will fail to produce the same ‘mix’ in any person in the next gen because ONE sperm fertilizes ONE egg.

                  A sociological/cultural definition of race can be anything you want it to be. But that is a social construct not a genetic one.

                  1. A race could be defined as the inheritance of say 7 of some specific genes, or 7 of a particular group of 10 genes, or the like. The correlation merely helps identify what genes to choose.

                    So, yes race is heritable.

                    Race is also a word, so a social construct in that sense.

                    Is it a big deal? Not really. Except for those who want to divide people.

                    1. A race could be defined as the inheritance of say 7 of some specific genes

                      That IS the working definition of a haplotype. And a haplogroup is a group of haplotypes that can be traced lineally to a common ancestor via an SNP mutation. There is no need to create a new term ‘race’ to describe what already has terminology to describe it.

                      What you can’t do is mix up haplotypes that are in the same area cuz that’s not how biology works. Nor can you add a bit of gibberish that sounds sciency in order to call it ‘race’ cuz that’s not how genetics works.

                      ALL the stuff outside of science (eg one-drop rule; child of a slave mother is a slave child of a free mother is free; ALL 19th century pre-Darwin or Lamarckian phrenology BS; the Spanish casta terms that created many of the terms for ‘mixed race’ that were imported to the US; the Biblical terms/genealogy; etc) that has been associated with developing/justifying caste/slavery systems is all purely social construct. And that is the true basis for everything that I’ve ever seen where someone wants to use the term ‘race’ and pretend it is based on either science or genetics.

              2. Is it bush, or a shrub?
                Bushes are social constructs!

                All ideas are social constructs. What the ideas are *about* may not be. Genes exists. Clusters in gene space exits. That there are not bright conceptual lines around the clusters does not mean that they don’t exist.

          5. Agree psmoot. I don’t think there is a good way to measure intelligence. The fact that you can take “preparatory” classes for IQ tests and score better or can score better when retaking the test means that exposure to the testing format has a large influence on how well you do. That is not a measure of intelligence, IMO.

      3. It seems like the study did try to control by race, at least, by studying the effects on whites only. But I am not sure they controlled for intelligence or for socioeconomics. Either way, it does seem that they did try to take a look at that factor, as controversial as it is.

        At the same time, I am not sure social mobility over time does all it needs to do here. The economy is changing a lot. Fifty years ago a guy who could stand and pull a lever for eight hours could do OK. That appears to be less the case in the modern world. So intelligence matters more than it did, quite possibly.

        1. I think your last paragraph is correct. Perhaps we could get back to better social mobility if we stopped trying to force all the kids into college.

          And the effect of intelligence can (and maybe should) be studied without bringing race into it all. It affects all races.

      4. Wrong, Ross. Twin studies show unequivocally that intelligence is 75-80% inherited.

        1. In the “Nature vs Nuture” debate, the answer is clear – it’s Nature AND Nuture.

          That said, the contributions of each to factors such as intelligence remain open to considerable debate. I believe you are citing Burton, et al (2012) for your conclusion that the IQ correlation for twins raised apart was 0.75. That study was, in my opinion, suspect because their methodology also showed that correlation to be higher than for twins raised together. That conclusion makes no sense.

          A number of countering studies using alternative methodologies show that while intelligence has some genetic component, it is not nearly so dominant as your statement above implies.

          More to the point, almost all the studies about heritability of intelligence are at the immediate family level. At the level of aggregate ethnic groups, the natural variation between individuals is vastly greater than the differences between the average populations. In other words, even the studies that show that ethnicity A averages 3 points higher than ethnicity B are meaningless for educational policy when the individuals within ethnicity A (and ethnicity B) have differences that are greater by an order of magnitude or more.

          1. 0.81 was the correlation based on twin studies that we learned in human genetics back in 1973. Everything I’ve seen since then is not much different.

            No diseagreement with the rest of your note.

          2. 60-80% is the range almost all studies show for heritability.

            And your 3 point gap between groups would be cool… Except there are literally 15-20+ point gaps between some groups. More than can possibly be bridged by environmental factors.

            The reality is there ARE differences in average IQs not just between what we call races, but within races. There are consistent gaps between different regions of white people, IE northern, western, and southern Europe score higher than eastern Europe. South Asians score lower than northern Asians. Even large differences in Africa depending on specific location.

            The truth is evolution selected for different traits in different areas for whatever reasons… In the modern, technical world this has left some genetic clusters fucked. Because brains are more important than any other factor nowadays. Hence South Korea industrialized and became a first world nation within a few decades of taking on key western policies, and other parts of the world are shit holes after centuries of having such ideas and policies in their regions.

            Life ain’t fair, and people aren’t all equal. It’s wishful thinking that ignores the known facts. Sorry.

    2. #IQSoRacist

    3. There are absolutely biological differences between groups, but they are statistically insignificant, and the effects of these differences are far less than the effects of social and cultural influences.

      1. “There are absolutely biological differences between groups, but they are statistically insignificant”

        Someone who has obviously never watched the Olympic 100m dash finals.

  8. So we can roll back all the ‘new’ and ‘improved’ bullshit programs that don’t work?
    Get rid of race based admissions? Apply due process? Fire worthless time clock punchers and pay big bucks to talent?
    Maybe dump all federal programs and give education back to the states?

    Didn’t think so – –

  9. I doubt this can fully be laid at the feet of “bad teachers”. If you bussed a full staff of teachers from a high-achieving private academy to the worst inner city school, I doubt you’d see much improvement in grades, because a lot of those kids have uninvolved parents and exist in a culture that largely doesn’t value education (except, perhaps, for an entitlement mentality that “If I show up, I’m supposed to get a diploma, which will guarantee me a good job”). Moreover, public schools are run in such a way that the worst examples of what I’m talking about can set a bad example for others and actively drag down the rest.

    The primary benefit of vouchers is that they provide an escape hatch for at least some of the kids who don’t live down to expectations. A revival of vocational education might similarly help. Making it easier to fire truly bad teachers wouldn’t hurt either, but I feel like the system and the environment are bigger problems than the individuals.

    1. You are right. There are both cultural and biological reasons for this gap. It’s a really hard problem.

      1. I’m always hesitant to talk “biology” in this context, both because it sounds too eugenicist, and because I’m skeptical that biology and culture can really be scientifically disentangled. While I know that testing shows narrower bell curves for women and ethnic minorities than for white men, it strikes me as significant that women and minorities also tend to culturally favor collective identity – so are stereotypes reflecting biological differences, or are cultural identities enforcing them, from within and without?. Unless the science supporting a biological (as opposed to a cultural) linkage is precise and airtight, I’m afraid it’s too easy to easy to frame it as prescriptive (“We don’t expect you to succeed because you’re ‘X'”) rather than descriptive (“We don’t see as many ‘X’ succeeding, but there’s a statistical reason for that, and we’d like to see as many excel as can”).

        1. I am 100% behind your last statement. The statistics are predictive of the overall trends of large groups of people. They should never be applied to one individual specifically. But, at a high school where statistically you will have a larger population of lower intelligence students, different strategies can be used to measure success. And it isn’t the old test ’em till they drop and expect them all to go to college.

          People can be “intelligent” and successful in ways different than pure brain power. There needs to be taloring to the population at hand, while accomodating individual divergence from the mean.

        2. The thing about biology is that there’s not really much we can do about it. We *can* provide different levels of education for students with different aptitudes, but it seems teachers’ must always teach to the lowest common denominator, which is discriminatory against the brighter students.

        3. because I’m skeptical that biology and culture can really be scientifically disentangled.

          Either there’s a noticeable effect, or humans couldn’t have evolved. Individual differences in genetic IQ need to have an effect in order for selection to take place.

          testing shows narrower bell curves for women and ethnic minorities than for white men,

          True of women, not minorities. I promise, non-white males also have Y chromosomes

          1. Actually, is true.

            North East Asians, for instance, have higher average IQs than whites… But they also have a narrower standard deviation. The standard deviations still differ within Asians between men and women, but they cluster closer to the Asian mean than whites. I believe the standard deviation between saaay Asian men is still greater than white women, but comparing men to men and women to women it is there.

            Same is true for blacks. European Jews actually seem to have the greatest variability of any major ethnic group, and also the highest averages.

            These are all consistent and know results. They’re just not PC.

  10. Charles Murray pointed out that college grads marry college grads and HS dropouts marry HS dropouts. The cultural predispositions and the genetics may play a part in the inequality of educational achievement.

    1. This is it. And for mentioning that, along with the evidence to back it up, Murray is now a pariah in “proper” academic circles.

      1. Folks: Just wait to see the reaction to his new book.

        1. Which book is that? Is it not out yet?

    2. I’d hesitate to jump right to trying to correlate genetics to academic achievement. Genetics controls very, very specific things. Academic achievement is affected by very, very broad influences. If you try to find a genetic effect on academics it will be entirely lost in the noise. It feel like you’d be trying to find why traffic is congested by studying the conditions of asphalt versus concrete roads.

      I could be wrong. But that’s not where I’d start.

      1. Intelligence is not the only predictive factor, but it is an important one.

      2. Genetics controls very, very specific things.

        Yes and no. Individual genes control specific proteins, but these can have multiple effects. And groups of genes can control a very wide range of effects. So, generally, intelligence (test taking) correlates very closely with genetics, coefficient = 0.81

      3. Kinda…

        Diligence will help somebody with a 160 IQ do better at studying physics… But no amount of diligence will allow an 85 IQ person to become a physicist.

        There are plenty of jobs you don’t need to be a genius for, and a hard worker might be awesome at them, but the truth is there are ever more professions where high IQ is a pre req.

    3. #CharlesMurraySoRacist

  11. What use are public school teachers aside from providing hands on sex ed.

    Did you know that unions in Rhode Island pposes a bill criminalizing teachers having sex with underage students?

    1. “No Child’s Behind Left”.

    2. Isn’t it already a crime to have sex with an underage person? (isn’t that how we define “underage?”)

      I would oppose the bill too, on the grounds that its redundant

      1. Age of consent in RI is 16, which is right around the average and median age of HS students (grades 9-12).

        1. Well, if teachers have sex with students at or above the age of consent, it is sufficient to fire them and revoke their credentials.

          (Exhanging good grades for sexual favors constitutes in-kind bribery, properly punishable by criminal law.)

  12. Students scoring in the bottom 10% of test takers often end up scoring so low because they are up all night living in inhuman conditions. Schools need fixing, and so do living conditions in many neighborhoods.

    1. Inhuman? That’s a loaded word. You mean free government housing (take a stroll through one of these complexes, most have DISH satellites and a nice car in driveway). You mean students in low-income schools with Jordans and iphones? I work with these schools and have seen it over and over again. spare me the sob story BS

  13. An interesting aside: One of my liberal facebook contacts likes to parrot a statistic that basically uses “Purchasing Power” instead of absolute funding. According to these statistics, the purchasing power of American Education funding has been falling, or held steady for years, even though the funding has gone up. The idea is that if it cost $10/hr in “real dollars” to hire teachers in 1950 and it costs $20/hr to hire them today (not because of inflation, just because those jobs cost more) then if you doubled your funding, you’d still just be breaking even.

    On its face, this makes sense. Schools are where the kids are, and in a lot of high density urban areas, the cost of living has gone up far beyond inflation, meaning that salaries in those areas has also increased a significant amount. This isn’t just places like Silicon Valley, but pretty much every dense urban environment in the country.

    I have reservations about these statistics, though. First, the only studies I have seen were from a liberal think tank. Second, I am pretty sure that the statistics are somehow figuring teacher education level into this. 1950s teachers had bachelors degrees and a teaching certificate. Today, many have masters degrees, and so expect a higher salary. I think this points to a large problem, which is that we have moved from teachers as experts in a field to teachers as their own profession. A math major doesn’t teach math, but instead it’s someone Mastered in “Education Theory”.

    1. We need a return to teaching colleges that specialize in this. It’s ridiculous to require a Master’s degree (or even a bachelor’s degree) for teaching in Elementary school. You see the same thing in health care. You need at least a 4-year degree to be allowed to hand out aspirin. (I may be exaggerating a bit.)

  14. the biggest reason for the gap imo is not in schools but at home. A 2010 study found that as few as 20 books at home led to 2+ years of additional educational attainment – with the biggest difference at the lowest parental income levels. Not quite the same measure as in the article – but a truckload cheaper to achieve. And can be achieved through public libraries and bookmobiles and charitable efforts that can then be merely reinforced in classrooms.

    Makes sense when you think about it even though superficially ‘books at home’ is not specifically focused on an age-related gap in school. But by separating learning/reading/etc from school/classroom, it makes it possible for the kid themselves to own their stake in learning at the age when alternatives to school begin to appear more attractive to that kid. Otherwise, they are more likely to tune out or even drop out when they hit that age.

    1. As an aside, this also imo makes the whole charter school alternative a not-quite-real solution. The parent who DOESN’T currently have a little bookshelf for their kids at home is hardly likely to be able to know what to look for in a school for their kids. It would be unrealistic to expect that and yet that becomes a requirement with school choice.

      1. There is no silver bullet, because there are multiple factors. I am sure that over a large enough segment of the population, books in the home are a good sign that the parent at least takes some modicum of responsibility for their kid’s education. The same is true for charter schools- generally kids in those schools kids whose parents have taken at least a small interest in their education.

        I think we can all agree that neither books nor charters are the CAUSE of educational success. They are tools. Books being read at home obviously prepare the kids for an learning career that is heavily based on reading. And charter schools are an important outlet for families that are taking education seriously but are hampered by a failing school and/or its students who are not serious about learning.

        1. The point here is that the use of these tools is only an indicator of the actual cause- how much the parents are participating in the raising of their kids. Just as the presence of a well stocked tool chest in a garage is a sign that someone in the family is reasonably handy with maintenance of the home.

          Making these tools easier to obtain will only help if people are motivated to use them. I am not sure how much lower the barriers to entry on books can get. We can dump billions of dollars into more libraries, but pretty much every family can accumulate a book a week for a pittance. And pretty much every school has a library that allows kids to check out books.

          On the other hand, the barriers to using charter schools are still quite high in many parts of the country. First problem is finding such a school that serves your district, and you may get a choice of only one or two. Second problem is getting in when hundreds of other parents are thinking the same thing. Then begins the many trevails of making that charter work, when parents often have to transport the kids themselves, and deal with coordinating after school care with a school that is miles away.

          We cannot make every parent care. And we cannot solve every logistical problem with schools. Nevertheless, it is pretty clear to me that the barriers to involved parents using charter schools are much more serious than the barriers that prevent involved parents from getting 20 books into a home.

          1. pretty much every family can accumulate a book a week for a pittance.

            Not in my city. In the poor neighborhoods, they will have to drive to a very different neighborhood to even find a bookstore. Which means a car – and probably next to no chance of seeing people from your neighborhood in that store then.

            the barriers to using charter schools are still quite high in many parts of the country.

            Well the most ‘charter-easy’ cities in the US are New Orleans, Detroit, DC, KC, Flint, Gary, Cleveland, Dayton. The public schools there were all undoubtedly failures. The charter schools have not done much at all to turn any of them into anything resembling a ‘success story’ – except to monetize poor students.

            Charter schools are more akin to putting lifejackets on the Titanic. Maybe they can help one person save their kid. Or maybe they don’t really work if the water’s too cold where the ship sinks. And anyway wouldn’t it be better in those planning situations to figure out how to avoid icebergs?

            1. In Florida, charter schools have turned out to be a corrupt disaster. They actually produce less achievement in poor performing students than do public schools.

            2. So, there are no libraries in your city? Have you ever heard of the internet? I was reading an article showing that the vast majority of poor people have a smartphone and access to the internet. Surely they can read something worthwhile instead of following cardi B (parents and kids) or posting the knock out game on snapchat. and why do you need to see people from your neighborhood at the library??

        2. The studies didn’t focus solely on books for reading (though reading was clearly the main emphasis for younger kids). Science books, picture books of nature (meaning not cat videos), reference stuff like atlases or dictionary. Yeah it’s merely a tool. Just like having Internet access is a tool. The point being have those tools at home (and in the case of books – laid out to achieve something specific) actually CREATES an environment where they can be used. It’s not just a reflection of an environment where the parents ‘care’. See below re where bookstores/libraries actually are in your city. If the neighborhood is a book desert, then it takes some heroic assumptions to believe local parents will even KNOW that books can be at home rather than just in school.

          And there was even a study that specifically addressed summer setback re reading and other skills/knowledge in bad neighborhoods. Which is exactly the sort of thing that would compound over time and make the gaps wider over time as teachers then have to spend more time in the fall bringing kids back up to where they left off in the spring.

      2. There is NO excuse with free libraries and the Internet. Obviously they google everything else so why not this? People were self-taught back in the days when these resources were not available. quit making excuses for crappy parents.

    2. Just looking at a map of my city for bookstores. There’s not one that’s actually IN the neighborhoods where immigrants or minorities or poor are the main population. Couple on the edges of those neighborhoods but in neighborhoods that are very different from those neighborhoods so prob not much book shopping there. Public libraries are better distributed there – 2 plus 2 on edges – but still I’d bet that schools/libraries/bookstores all really need to be in close proximity to reinforce the idea that books can be in the home also for those parents who themselves never grew up with books in home.

    3. Nope. Same as low income and propensity for criminal behavior- low IQ is the single most important determinant factor for all of them.
      The world makes much more sense when you accept that fact.

  15. How to explain the success of first generation Asian kids of parents who came to the US with nothing, not even being able to speak English…If only we could figure that one out…

  16. I get paid over $180 per hour working from home with 2 kids at home. I just got paid $ 8550 in my previous month It Sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it. http://Www.home.jobs89.com

  17. A 1 standard deviation difference between the top 10% vs the bottom 10%(say 115 IQ and 100 IQ) Would explain a lot of the difference – if IQ affects income (it does). If the difference is two standard deviations ( 120 vs 90 ) that would explain almost all of it.

    1. #IQAndMathSoRacist

  18. You failed to mention the 4x spending increase impacts on school administration levels and teachers incomes…those are positives…for them at least…

    1. Teachers are hardly getting 4x the salary that they used to. The problem is that administrators outside of the schools are multiplying, and their jobs just require teachers to take out time to gather data for the school board level admins, which distracts them from their primary job of teaching.

  19. Low IQ people tend to be poor, live in poor neighborhoods, and have low IQ offspring.
    The false narrative that ‘good schools’ can increase intelligence is scientifically bullshit made up by teacher’s union, in order to get more taxpayer money.
    You can dress up the little black kid in a suit with a crest on the pocket and send him to a charter school with a name like ‘collegiate’ or ‘excellence’, but he’s still going to have a 92 IQ, no matter how much money you throw at him.
    Intelligence and aptitude are pretty much determined before you even get to kindergarten and there’s nothing you can do to change it.

    1. Yup. Harsh but true. In all honesty I slacked all through school… And got basically straight As taking advanced classes for my age most of the way along the line… Because I have a high IQ. I run circles around people every time a new concept comes up or a novel problem… I’m also a couple inches under average height. Life ain’t fair, but you have to look at reality for what it is.

  20. “Spending four times more in real dollars per pupil doesn’t compensate for low-quality teaching.”

    Or low IQ.

    Any analysis of educational attainment that isn’t controlled for IQ is either willful propaganda or gross incompetence.

    1. Or pure ass covering so you can get to tenure. They know where their bread is buttered.

    2. Their methods don’t allow for looking at student IQ.

      1. As in it’s not their data, and the people who collected it don’t collect IQ data with the tests

  21. “Spending four times more in real dollars per pupil doesn’t compensate for low-quality teaching.”

    It also doesn’t make up for low-quality parenting.

  22. I have two kids in the local public school. The problems in my opinion are that the school is too focused on testing, so that they don’t teach much beyond how to take a test, and also that they think giving each kid a tablet is the answer to everything. They end up playing math games instead of learning to problem solve. Not sure it would make much difference for the lowernachieving students, though

  23. I am getting $100 to $130 consistently by wearing down facebook. i was jobless 2 years earlier , however now i have a really extraordinary occupation with which i make my own specific pay and that is adequate for me to meet my expences. I am really appreciative to God and my director. In case you have to make your life straightforward with this pay like me , you just mark on facebook and Click on big button thank you?

    c?h?e?c?k t?h?i?s l?i?n-k >>>>>>>>>> http://www.Geosalary.com

  24. What if intelligence is heritable, and maybe has something to do with student performance as well as socioeconomic status?

  25. The two links in the last quote are both broken, FYI

  26. What does this say about the effectiveness of the Head Start program?

    1. The lack of effectiveness of Head Start after students are several years removed has been well-established in study after study. That program is not about education; it is a substitute for free daycare.

  27. The whole problem is that our high school curriculum is a watered-down college prep curriculum. It’s neither robust enough to truly prepare students for college, but it’s also too esoteric for students not planning or unable (due to ability) to attend college. We need to go back to separating kids into college and vocational tracks at about the 9th grade level.

  28. It seems like the study did try to control by race, at least, by studying the effects on whites only. But I am not sure they controlled for intelligence or for socioeconomics. Either way, it does seem that they did try to take a look at that factor, as controversial as it is.

    At the same time, I am not sure social mobility over time does all it needs to do here. The economy is changing a lot. Fifty years ago a guy who could stand and pull a lever for eight hours could do OK. That appears to be less the case in the modern world. So intelligence matters more than it did, quite possibly.

  29. Yes, I doubt you’d see much improvement in grades, because a lot of those kids have uninvolved parents and exist in a culture that largely doesn’t value education.

  30. “They hypothesize that a steep decline in the quality of teachers is likely a big factor.”

    One place to look regarding this is the revolving door of new-fangled “research-based” educational techniques being taught to teachers-in-training in the ivory-tower educational programs.

    Another is the revolving door of new-fangled “researched based” educational programs and products being foisted on the teachers in the field by the denizens of those ivory-tower educational programs and by the various levels of the educational bureaucracy.

  31. It’s not low quality teaching… It’s low quality students.

    IQ is heritable from your parents to the tune of 60-80% as per numerous studies. Most poor people are low IQ, and most of their kids end up being low IQ too. Hence poor people = bad students, nothing can fix it, because they’re just not smart.

    Of course the randomness of genetics means smart people have dumb kids, and dumb people have smart kids. These kids tend to self sort to the strata they belong in. This accounts for the churn in economic situation between generations. But mostly smart = smart and dumb = dumb.

    It’s mean, and deterministic… But also scientifically true. Deal with it.

Please to post comments