MAKING ALL BLACKS TAKE CALCULUS WON'T MAKE THEM ALL SMART
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From: "George K. Cunningham"
Subject: Re: [Upstream] Puzzling Percentiles
>By Karin Chenoweth
>Washington Post Sunday, October 25, 1998; Page R07
>Bell-Rose and her colleagues discovered that all high performers, black and
>white, take rigorous courses in high school. Most take calculus, and even
>take honors English. This tallies with previous research indicating that
>students who take more difficult courses tend to do better on the SAT and on
>the ACT -- another standardized test used primarily in the South and the
>Midwest -- and it demonstrates again the importance of those courses for
What is being assumed is that taking these high level courses causes a a
student to do better on the SAT. This is the most fundamental of logical
fallacies: to assume that if two events occur at the same time, one must
have caused the other. Isn't just as likely or more likely that highly
intelligents students prefer or are encouraged to take these courses. Such
students can be expected to obtain high scores on the SAT. Highly
intelligent students not enrolled in these courses will most likely obtain
high SAT scores as well. We know that schools with a large proportion of
students eligible for free lunch, as a group, perform poorly on the SAT.
Would it be a good policy to deny access to free lunch as a means of
raising tests scores. It makes as much sense as placing students in high
level courses in order to raise their scores.