Monday, June 22, 2009

America's Most Depressing Education Statistic

I did not know this before seeing it on page 98 of the July 2009 issue of Money Magazine:

Well-off, high SAT's: 82% of such 12th graders finish college
Well-off, low SAT's: 52% of such 12th graders finish college
Poor, high SAT's: 44% of such 12th graders finish college

I'd rather look at socio-economic status than skin color when trying to determine who needs help to get through college.


Steve USMA '85 said...

I think you are being to limiting. I suggest that if you look at skin color within socio-economic status, you would find minorities do worse.

In other words, in looking at poor, high SAT with a 44% grad rate, whites within that category might have a 60% grad rate with minorities having a 20% grad rate.

Looking at each independently doesn't give you the whole picture. At least not enough in my eyes to determine where the main effort should be focused.

Unknown said...

College is overrated. There are many, many things that people can do for a living that don't require a college degree (work in the trades, sell cars, run a business, work in the arts, the list goes on).

Anyone who really stops to think about this, either because of sticker shock or incomplete acculturation into the cult of college, is less likely to shell out the money (and time) to finish.

The main reason to go to college is to signal your social status. If you don't understand that, or don't care to present yourself as a member of the (relatively) higher classes, then college isn't worth paying for.

Linda Fox said...

An awful lot of people start college without a clear reason for doing so (in part due to pushing from schools - guidance is particularly bad at this). Once in, they still don't like school that much. However, unlike high school, if you don't like college, you can leave. And get a job.

I don't know that seeing how few students graduate is a bad thing. If you aren't all that excited about school, why on Earth would you keep plugging away at it?

I'm assuming that low SATs somewhat correlate with lack of academic interest.

Linda Fox said...

These stats for the poor, high SAT don't surprise me. I was one such, and it took a major effort to do something that no one else in my neighborhood was doing. These kids are going against the tide.

I'd be willing to bet that graduation rates for white kids in that last slot are even worse than for Black kids - white kids get NO help, financial or otherwise.

Steve USMA '85 said...

I actually went and looked up the source document for the Money article. Article by Anthony P. Carnevale which was actually a response to a book by Charles Murray, "Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Brining America's Schools Back to Reality." I was a bit surprised that neither author (Murray nor Carnevale) took the time nor the effort to determine if race/ethnicity also had a correlation or worse, a confounding effect. To look at the data and make bold statements about where to focus effort based solely on either SAT scores or socio-economic status is only looking at a small part of the picture.

I suggested in my first post on this topic that minorities in the bottom strata would have the lowest grad rates. Linda above contends the opposite. I feel we both have valid reasons to make our hypotheses. Which is correct though is something I would have thought one of the two authors would have brought out in their works. Note: Don't expect the Money author to do that, they were just using data from Carnevale's paper to make a point.

My point is that Carnevale's paper has some gaping holes in the analysis of Murray's work. If Linda is right, it would be very illuminating to have concrete evidence. The data presented in no way can support a claim that socio-economic status is more important then race/ethnicity in graduation rates or college opportunities.

Ellen K said...

Part of that is cultural. It is difficult to complete college if you have kids before you are 20. Those stats do ride in there because of the push for all kids to go to college. There is a big gap in the middle income stats. Many kids who cannot get scholarships must get student loans. Those are becoming hard to come by. And with rising tuition and housing, the students who must work to attend have to work more hours. I know my kids could have done better academically if they had not worked, but we simply could not afford it. And what is worse is now some states, such as Texas, are punishing students who take longer than four year to graduate by tacking on a surcharge. This just fuels the vicious cycle of having to work more to pay more. The end result is many middle class kids simply drop out hoping to return someday.

Linda Fox said...

Right, I'd not thought about that. Like many low-income students, I had kids before college (3). That I did finish was due to:

1) really good day care
2) cooperation of spouse
3) ability to ignore a pathetic house - truly a mess, to do the classwork I had to do
4) robust good health on the part of my kids and self - the one time they got really sick (chicken pox), I lost over 3 weeks of school. Fortunately, my professors that semester were understanding, and I was able to stay current.

It takes good support. It takes dogged determination. It takes luck.