SAT reading scores for the high school class of 2011 were the lowest on record, and combined reading and math scores fell to their lowest point since 1995.
The College Board, which released the scores Wednesday, said the results reflect the record size and diversity of the pool of test-takers. As more students aim for college and take the exam, it tends to drag down average scores.
The AP story bringing us the bad news on SAT reading scores is remarkable in a couple of respects. First, the scores are the lowest on record. That means ever, ‘No Child Left Thinking He Is Not Genius Material’ to the contrary notwithstanding. And second, as the article goes to great pains to apologize for, the pool of test-takers has grown so large that the results are bound to be reduced. It was stunning to see the College Board, which administers the test, also refer to the “diversity” of the test-takers. We have been led to believe for lo these past decades that diversity, in whatever the form and whatever the setting, was in it’s own right a virtue, a goal and a be-all, end-all. No one ever said it wasn’t going to drag test scores down, now did they?
Speaking of dragging down quality, it was with some amusement that we noted the writer of the AP article, and uncorrected by his editors, did not once use the words “Scholastic Aptitude Test”. It was SAT, SAT, SAT all the way. Well, duh! Everybody knows that’s what it stands for, right? No, amigo, it depends on how ‘diverse’ your readership is.
Apparently unafraid of charges of racism, the College Board goes on to explain the falling test scores in terms of having large numbers of Hispanics taking the test:
College Board officials pointed to a range of indicators that the test-taking pool has expanded, particularly among Hispanics, which is a good sign that more students are aspiring to college. For instance, roughly 27 percent of the 1.65 million test-takers last year came from a home where English was not the only language, up from 19 percent just a decade ago.
But the increasingly diverse group of test-takers is clearly having more trouble with reading and writing than with math.
‘Reading is Fundamental’ or so the slogan goes. But apparently some, even some educators, are having trouble making the connection. Says College Board Vice President of Research Wayne Camara: “”We’re looking and wondering if (more) efforts in English and reading and writing would benefit students.” Oh golly gee, Wayne, with SAT reading scores the lowest on record, lowest in history, lowest ever, surely students wouldn’t benefit from more efforts in English and reading and writing! Surely not!
The point of this is not to quarrel with the educators’ explanations for the lowering of the test scores, for they have been candid in admitting the pool has been watered down. The point is that in the case of the SAT scores, and college admissions in general, indeed in just about every endeavor, undertaking and concern, public or private, every activity, enterprise and field of expertise or profession or craft, letting everybody in, letting everybody do it, indeed letting everybody think that not only are they entitled but they actually are capable of doing it, has led to such a lowering of expectations that, as pointed out by our example today, not only mediocrity but continual lowering and pooh-poohing of performance standards and has led to the situation where even the practitioners of the various arts and crafts don’t care about it anymore.
Nowhere has this trend been more apparent than in the national news media and the field of journalism, where plagiarism, sloppy copy, politicization of information dissemination, and so much more, are SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) and no longer automatic disqualifiers for such things as Nobels, Pulitzers and Peabodys.
Extrapolate this out to the world of business and finance. Everyone in the economics, marketing and fiscal realm is stumped at how the numbers keep coming up off, month after month, quarter after quarter, year after year. After this goes on for so long, they just shift the metrics, change the qualifiers, invent new terminology, wipe things off the books and try to start over again. To put it bluntly, there are no economic or financial or marketplace experts anymore because expertise, and who is qualified and who is not, and standards and immutable rules of order, are out the window, the same as is who should go to college, indeed who should be taking the SAT test in the first place.
For our purposes, returning our government and our political arrangements to the Constitutional model is going to be a battle. We know that. But keeping that model is going to be the actual war. We are reminded of Franklin’s quip “A republic, madam; if you can keep it.” How did our republic last so long to begin with, we wonder, with forces continually and eternally trying to water it down, to lower the standards, to change the meaning, to seriously pose the question of “Well, maybe it’s worth teaching these things or maybe not; um, we’re wondering and thinking about that. We’ll put it down there on our list somewhere, ” as in the example of Mr. Camara above. With “officials” and “leaders” and “opinion makers” like this, how difficult is the challenge? Monumental.
In the meantime, the wealth of our nation slowly dissipates. Not just the monetary wealth, the property and proprietary wealth, but the intellectual wealth, the wealth of entrepreneurship and invention and ideas, extending even to the wealth of good intentions, all watered down in the mission statements of all the major institutions of this country – government, press, corporations, universities, philanthropics, the arts, the crafts, the guilds, social clubs – all of them containing above all and utmost the plank of ‘diversity’, a meaningless, watering down of talent and genius and expertise and capability that has brought this nation to the brink of ruin. We are devolving from a wealth of freedom and the free rein of exceptionalism to the poverty of sameness and the extinguishing of the competitive spirit. And it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with race or ethnicity or gender or religion. It is nothing more than unadulterated, barren, infertile egalitarian communism presented in the guise of ‘equality’. It is a squandering of wealth, wealth which formerly was used by good people to do good things for themselves and for their fellow man. The wealth is rapidly disappearing. All of it. And not just the money.
There are those who would point to one of our cherished national slogans – E Pluribus Unum – as a validation of the push for ‘diversity’. To those we say, oh, indeed! In diversity is our strength. But do not pretend to us that dilution is the same as diversity. We do not have to have a high IQ (Intelligence Quotient), or SAT score, to know the difference.