Thursday, September 08, 2005

Some numbers on the value of secondary education   posted by michael vassar @ 9/08/2005 08:35:00 AM

Does anyone know, statistically speaking, what sort of product the public schools are producing... according to their own advocates... after excluding 8% of the student body from testing for various reasons?

Here are the actual numbers. To some degree they speak for themselves, but here are the highlights. The top 10% of 4th grade students equal or outperform the bottom 25% (really over 45% after accounting for children excluded from the test and children who dropped out of high school) of 12th grade students, and the top 25% of students outperform the bottom 10% (really over 30% for reasons given above)! For your reference, roughly 25% of the US population gets a college degree, so the average person who will get a college degree has better math ability and reading comprehension in 4th grade than the bottom 4th of the population will have after 8 more years of schooling supposedly teaches them these subjects!

This is all the more remarkable in light of the antiquated concept of IQ as a quotient. Around the mean, this concept is predictively accurate for the most part. From the quotient definition of IQ we can infer that there are many cognitive tasks which are not taught in school in which the 10th percentile 14 year old substantially outperforms the 90th percentile 9 year old. In other words, performance in the subjects which are "taught" improves less than would be expected simply from mental maturation, or at least less than performance in subjects that are not taught.