Posted on November 8th, 2004 No Comments »
Lawrence Summers, president of Harvard, recently spoke at a celebration of the College Board's 50th anniversary. He discussed America's rising economic inequality and the role education may or may not play in reducing the gap.
Summers cited several stats to bolster his case, including the following:
– In the United States today, a student from the top income quartile is more than six times as likely as a student from the
– At selective institutions, only 10 percent come from the bottom half of the income scale. In other words, children whose families are in the lower half of the American income distribution are underrepresented by 80 percent.
– Only 5 percent of students scoring above 1200 [on the SAT] are from the bottom income quintile. In the highest range of scores (1550 and above), there were only 175 low-income students based on self-reported data, compared to nearly 2,000 high-income students.Among his recommendations, Summers claims "we" should "reduce the distorting impact of the vast industry of test prep courses, essay writing consultants, and private college counselors that has sprung up to help students with means navigate and even manipulate the college admissions process, thereby magnifying the underlying inequalities in educational opportunity and academic preparation." I agree, though no one polices that activity, so there's no "we" to control it. It's simply a market-driven reality.
And notably, Summers defends the SAT, saying that it is "predictive of academic performance in college and of subsequent career success." Of course he would defend it in this venue: The College Board owns the SAT.
Nonetheless, the speech is well worth a read.
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