It’s stuck in an 1850s model that never fundamentally improved. We’re all products of it.

Actually, Jeff, there’s been more standardized testing, more accountability, more critical thinking skills taught in the lower and middle levels.

The problem is the whole methodology of the US public school system is flawed from the get-go.


It’s stuck in an 1850s model that never fundamentally improved. We’re all products of it.


If you replaced ALL of the teachers and ALL of the staff with ONLY people of your particular political leanings, whatever they may be, the system as it is will produce the SAME test scores, the SAME results.


You’re right about it being my opinion.
There’s been a greater emphasis since the 1970s with math. My brother was stuck with New math in the early 70s. I don’t know WHAT experiment I was a part of in the 80s. Kids today are dealing with the Common Core experiment.

But verbal skills was never a real emphasis in the USA. Always math.


Unfortunately, we don’t have many decades to compare. What adds to the problem of these data sets being accurate is that the tests themselves are constantly in flux.

So even these lovely charts you have to take with a grain of salt. Throwing statistics at a problem only works if there’s consistency in the initial parameters being compared. The best these can do is give you a rough guesstimate. It’s a metric, yeah, but is it scientific? Only barely.

There’s other metrics you can use. Job rate. Employment. Quality of life estimates. Income. Life span. Take your pick.

Also, performance in school is not necessarily indicative of performance in _life_.

But that’s a rant I could write a book on.


Much of the changes we’ve seen in education over the past couple of decades is due to a report in 1983:

Has education improved since that time? I think so in _some_ ways: at least in the test results. Has that resulted in a better, stronger nation? I don’t know.


Interesting: You’re right. I don’t know about the ESL but about the demographic shifting, or at least the overall population increase in all subgroups, it’s true.

Thank you for setting me on this research campaign: answered a few questions I’d had on my mind for a while:

In 1990, a report that was more or less buried double-checked the 1983 “Nation at Risk” and found it to be: Wrong. It was due to a statistical phenomenon called “Simpson’s Paradox”

Basically, when measured SEPARATELY, each of the subgroups (whites, minorities, whatever subgroups they had), all of the test scores went UP.. but when combined together, they seemed to go DOWN.

Why? More people over all.

“A Nation at Risk” (1983)

What the report claimed:

American students are never first and frequently last academically compared to students in other industrialized nations.

American student achievement declined dramatically after Russia launched Sputnik, and hit bottom in the early 1980s.

SAT scores fell markedly between 1960 and 1980.

Student achievement levels in science were declining steadily.

Business and the military were spending millions on remedial education for new hires and recruits.

The Sandia Report (1990)

What was actually happening:

Between 1975 and 1988, average SAT scores went up or held steady for every student subgroup.

Between 1977 and 1988, math proficiency among seventeen-year-olds improved slightly for whites, notably for minorities.

Between 1971 and 1988, reading skills among all student subgroups held steady or improved.

Between 1977 and 1988, in science, the number of seventeen-year-olds at or above basic competency levels stayed the same or improved slightly.

Between 1970 and 1988, the number of twenty-two-year-old Americans with bachelor degrees increased every year; the United States led all developed nations in 1988.



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