Friday, June 06, 2014

their educational outcomes reflect their parents’ income, not their test scores.

When you read about those gaps, you might assume that they mostly have to do with ability. Rich kids do better on the SAT, so of course they do better in college. But ability turns out to be a relatively minor factor behind this divide. If you compare college students with the same standardized-test scores who come from different family backgrounds, you find that their educational outcomes reflect their parents’ income, not their test scores.

After the depression study, Yeager, Walton and two other researchers did an experiment with community-college students who were enrolled in remedial or “developmental” math classes. Education advocates have identified remedial math in community college as a particularly devastating obstacle to the college hopes of many students, especially low-income students, who disproportionately attend community college. The statistics are daunting: About two-thirds of all community-college students are placed into one or more remedial math classes, and unless they pass those classes, they can’t graduate. More than two-thirds of them don’t pass; instead, they often drop out of college altogether.

Clearly, part of the developmental-math crisis has to do with the fact that many students aren’t receiving a good-enough math education in middle or high school and are graduating from high school underprepared for college math. But Yeager and Walton and a growing number of other researchers believe that another significant part of the problem is psychological. They echo David Laude’s intuition from the early days of TIP: When you send college students the message that they’re not smart enough to be in college — and it’s hard not to get that message when you’re placed into a remedial math class as soon as you arrive on campus — those students internalize that idea about themselves.

from Lizard's Ghost

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