July 20, 2009

Test scores, affirmative action, and actual potential, or while I might do very well on standardized tests, I'll never be as smart or as successful as many people who do not.
  • ...or while I might not do well on standardized tests, I may very well be as smart or become as successful as many people who do. The unnatural selection implied by critics of affirmative action occurs on the other side of the fence as well, by different means. It would be difficult to describe Dubya as smart and his 'success' in becoming POTUS turned into abject failure for his country. I agree with Mr. Brown that respectible credentials, however obtained, are only one indication of actual potential for good. Harvard MBAs, in light of the recent financial meltdown, are a case in point. Depends how you define success, I guess.
  • Each part of a person's life might contain the whole of it somehow, like a hologram, if only we could fill in the blanks or interprete the results rightly. But the gate keepers and test interpreters stand also for something much bigger: a flawed society.
  • islander - the I in the fpp is myself. I have done extremely well on standardized tests, and I'm not talented at anything but standardized tests :) There are serious criticisms of affirmative action to be made - for one, American universities target middle class and upper class visible minorities so that they can claim to be diverse, without ever actually dealing with such "difficult" students as actually poor and disadvantaged students, who in the US (where I have been until recently) are disproportionately visible minorities. Doing this, they avoid the difficulties of helping students who haven't had access to AP courses (big thing in the US elite universities) or other enrichments. But Judge Sotomayor is an example of affirmative action working perfectly: finding a bright kid who hasn't had the same preparation as those whose parents are educated anglophones, and giving her the chance to show what she can do - and she showed that she could be an A student at a time when not all students in the Ivy League were (most are now - grade inflation). None of the critics are willing to look at her grades at the end of her university career - you know, the grades that actually matter. She was among the best in both universities. Up in Canada, we just don't have these issues. Because we don't have heavy disparity in our universities and in the options coming out of university - the way they do in the US and the UK - admission to university isn't that big a deal. We essentially give affirmative action to all students - you can get into a good Canadian university with average marks, and you get the chance to prove yourself then. Not in all programs, but in enough that I don't feel that we have barriers raised at age 18 the way the US does. And even if your university doesn't have the same job prospects as a more prestigious one (York vs Uni of Toronto, for an example I know intimately), you can always easily transfer if you do well and the graduate/professional school options are just as open to you. This is somewhat true in the US, at least for the grad schools (people go from non-prestigious undergrad to prestigious grad all the time), but I don't know about the professional. Then again, I think that the answers to social mobility aren't in admissions to elite universities at all - but in effective collective bargaining, higher wages at the bottom and solid mass education (especially high schools and community colleges). But I still get pissed at the people who pretend that SATs mean anything other than a talent at testing.
  • The test scores were shocking, bloody Flintoff.
  • *Stands to applaud jb* Every kid in this country should have the opportunity for furthering their education, whether it be formal college, apprenticeship in a trade, mentoring, SOMETHING. I, also test very well. I learn just great in a lecture situation, and have good retention--at least a semester long ;) Sailed through a degree in English and a second in Applied Science. Hardly cracked a textbook--got the majority of information from my lectures. The act of taking key point notes was enough to lock the lecture into memory for tests. I just knew what would be on tests from the prof's emphasis and demeanor. Should have had a 3.8-4.0, but my freshman year at age 17, I screwed around and got A's in what I liked/was interested in--English/Bio & Zoo/philosophy/ethics, and failed what I wasn't into--chemistry/math. That attitude set the pattern for the whole of my college career. And believe me, I *could* make a career out of it--I love school, and now I've finally learned to study, but not nearly as well as someone to whom things did not come as easily. I finally pulled it out of the toilet as far as a GPA, but it's a low B. Took me nearly 35 years to finish college. Much more important than the test smarts is determination and application. My youngest daughter, who finds testing difficult, who takes copious notes, reviews, needs to read, and often reread, every word of every text, and studies copiously and religiously, graduated magna cum laude. (While raising her daughter as a single parent 950 miles away from any relatives.) She's a second year law student now. Kid's got grit. It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well. Descartes If you can't excel with talent, triumph with effort. Anon. There is no greater burden than great potential. Charles M. Schulz