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02 Jul 2005 - 14:32
NYTimes Book Review:
China, India, Japan and Europe all churn out more science and engineering degrees than we do. Worse -- and downright embarrassing -- is the state of American education. Globally, our 12th-graders rank only in the 10th percentile in math (that's 10th percentile, not 10th). Our students also rank first in their assessment of their own performance: we're not only poorly prepared, we have delusions of grandeur.
item from SAT math test
There are 20 packages of bagels on a shelf in a store and each package contains the same number of bagels. If 3 of these packages contain a total of 18 bagels, how many bagels are there in 7 of these packages? (A) 21 (B) 36 (C) 40 (D) 42 (E) 49
I just asked Christopher (age 10) to do this problem. He did it in his head, while simultaneously plotting out his eBay bid for an Extreme Worldwide Wrestling cage that normally costs $35, and he muffed it the first time. ('Is it 6/7?' 'NO!') When I told him, Christopher, look at the problem, he got it in a couple of seconds. He's 10. This is ridiculous.
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My favorite quote about statistics is:"Torture numbers and they'll confess to anything." I have no idea who said that. The thing about the SAT is that it is supposed to test general knowledge. In that way, it is closer to an IQ test. The test has lately been revised so I don't know whether this is still true, but the math SAT was alway meant to be able to be done without the higher high school math. The ACT, which we use in Michigan, is a test of math knowledge up to and including geometry. There is a really great article on Jamie Escalante on the NYC Hold site. The thing that struck me the most was how they had to create the feeder classes before they could teach AP Calculus. They feeder classes started in middle school math with fractions. What we are now doing is destroying our feeder classes. -- AnneDwyer - 04 Jul 2005
Anne, I read an article in the Economist about the new SAT a while ago; it said that the new SAT is much more a test of content knowledge than the old SAT was. The old SAT was very highly correlated with "G" (general intelligence as measured by IQ tests). I guess it may be a while before we know whether this is true of the new test. My stepson is cramming for the new SAT this summer, so I guess we'll be more familiar with it soon enough. -- CarolynJohnston - 04 Jul 2005
I love that quote about statistics! The Quote Garden attributes it to Gregg Easterbrook. -- CarolynJohnston - 04 Jul 2005