[Paleopsych] CHE: Many College Students Graduate With Low Proficiency in Math and Reading, Study Finds

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Many College Students Graduate With Low Proficiency in Math and Reading,
Study Finds
News bulletin from the Chronicle of Higher Education, 6.1.20

[Click on the report and look at the sample questions, which are in the 
appendix. They are so simple that I would have been ashamed to have missed 
any of them when in the eighth grade, if not the sixth grade. No, before 
that. I do qualify for Mensa, but these are really, really simple 
questions. Don't think they are trick questions.

[I am frightened to think how those in the 90 IQ countries (the world 
average) cope with ordinary living. I am more frightened about the social 
effects of mass unemployment as robots take over more and more jobs of 
these people.

[Yesterday, I went to a wonderful exhibit, "Liquid Stone: New Architecture 
in Concrete," at the National Building Museum. Hurry if you are near D.C., 
for it closes on January 29, for there is much to be learned about a 
substance we take for granted. There were several excerpts from movies, 
and a few showed honest workers doing various things with concrete. I was 
thinking that these workers may not really need to be all that proficient 
in mathematics and reading to earn an honest living. (This is *skilled* 
labor, actually.)

[But what if their jobs are taken over by robots? Alas, toward the very 
end of the exhibit, there were pictures of robots doing this sort of work. 
People being more flexible than robots, concrete workers need not be 
unemployed in every area, even if most jobs in this specific area 
disappear. But as robots get better and better, the value of honest 
toilers will go down. I do have compassion for honest toilers and am 
willing to support them at the level of college students (recall my 
Double-Tullock Welfare Plan), with the proviso that they forego having 

[It's not the fault of government education that causes college graduates 
even (to say nothing of skiller laborers, let along those of 90 IQ, the 
world average) to do so poorly on the test the American Institutes for 
Research gave. It's deeper than that, I am afraid.]

    [54]By SARA LIPKA

    Fewer than half of today's college students graduate with broad
    proficiency in mathematics and reading, according to a report issued
    on Thursday by the American Institutes for Research, a nonprofit
    organization based in Washington.

    Still, current college graduates perform better than do previous
    graduates when it comes to reading comprehension and map or chart
    analysis, the report says. In mathematical literacy, however, they
    score only as high as their predecessors.

    Such findings spell trouble because "rapid changes in technology make
    it necessary for adults of all ages to use written information in new
    and more complex ways," the report says. Ever higher levels of
    literacy "enable individuals to keep pace with changing educational

    The [70]report, "The Literacy of America's College Students,"
    evaluated 1,800 graduating students at 80 two- and four-year
    institutions, 85 percent of them public.

    Students responded to written questions designed to assess three sets
    of skills: quantitative literacy, or the basic arithmetic required to
    calculate a tip or balance a checkbook; prose literacy, or reading
    comprehension; and document literacy, such as filling out a job
    application or reading a food label. Based on the students' answers,
    their skills were classified as proficient, intermediate, basic, or
    below basic.

    While fewer than half of graduating students at four-year institutions
    were rated proficient in all three categories, fewer than one-quarter
    of those at two-year institutions were scored proficient across the
    board. In quantitative literacy, 20 percent of students at four-year
    institutions and 30 percent of those at two-year institutions were at
    or below the basic level.

    Literacy levels of students at four-year public institutions were not
    significantly different from those of students at four-year private
    institutions, but there remained a gap between the skills of white and
    minority students.

    Over all, "students may not be as prepared as most of us think they
    are when they're graduating college," said Stéphane Baldi, who
    directed the survey, which was financed by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
    "Institutions of higher education should take a good look at this," he
    said, "and ask themselves what they are teaching."

    More information about the survey, including sample questions given to
    students, is available on the [71]Web site of the American Institutes
    for Research.

    Background articles from The Chronicle:
      * [72]Consensus Grows on Basic Skills That Colleges Should Teach,
        but Gauges of Those Abilities Are Poor, Report Says (11/7/2005)
      * [73]Engineering Graduates Have Improved Over the Last Decade,
        Accreditor's Study Finds (10/27/2005)
      * [74]Study Suggests a Way to Gauge College Performance on a
        State-by-State Basis, Report Says (10/13/2005)
      * [75]Colleges Face New Demands for Accountability, Conference
        Speakers Say (3/21/2005)

      * [76]College Graduates Aren't Ready for the Real World (2/18/2005)
      * [77]Higher Education Isn't Meeting the Public's Needs (10/15/2004)


   54. mailto:sara.lipka at chronicle.com
   70. http://www.air.org/news/documents/The%20Literacy%20of%20Americas%20College%20Students_final%20report.pdf
   71. http://www.air.org/news/documents/Release200601pew.htm
   72. http://chronicle.com/daily/2005/11/2005110704n.htm
   73. http://chronicle.com/daily/2005/10/2005102703n.htm
   74. http://chronicle.com/daily/2005/10/2005101307n.htm
   75. http://chronicle.com/daily/2005/03/2005032101n.htm
   76. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i24/24b01101.htm
   77. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i08/08b00601.htm

E-mail me if you have problems getting the referenced articles.

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