I was curious tonight so I began reading the 2010 College-Bound Seniors Total Group Profile Report (PDF), which includes data on 1.59 million college-bound students who took the SAT. One of the charts, Table 25, interested me so I put the data into an Excel spreadsheet, created an aggregate column, and then ranked the SAT scores of various intended majors, splitting them down the middle into the above average and below average.
Some of the results are to be expected. It wouldn’t matter, particularly, what SAT score a culinary arts major earned because he or she may have extraordinary talent in the kitchen that doesn’t correlate with standardized math or reading comprehension. It is a different type of intelligence and skill.
The scariest revelation of all is the fact that the nation’s educators are below average as measured by preparation prior to entering college. The people supposed to be teaching this exam aren’t doing well on it compared to others. That’s horrifying. That means the best and the brightest are not, as a whole, attracted to the field (there are always exceptions – I myself had some brilliant teachers and professors throughout my life to whom I am incalculably grateful). But then again, nearly everyone has known the education system in this country is outdated and ineffective because it was designed for a post-industrial-revolution world that brought people off the farms and into the factories. That world no longer exists. The notion that children should be education by age instead of by individual merit when all children are not equal in all disciplines is absurd. The college system works better.
In specific terms, for 2010:
- The mean Critical Reading score was 501. Education majors scored 481.
- The mean Mathematics score was 516. Education majors scored 486.
- The mean Writing score was 492. Education majors scored 477.
That is pathetic. If anything, these results would lead me to believe that if you are a great teacher, you probably want to pull your hair out at the absurdity of the system and your colleagues.