Friday, February 23, 2007

Test Scores At Odds With Rising High School Grades

Test Scores At Odds With Rising High School Grades - Washington Post

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) touts itself as a significant savior to grade inflation in school, but the real savior has always been free market forces in the workplace. The profit motive is smarter than any test, or ideological willingness to arbitrarily discriminate.

While people have historically focused on bigotry to explain the disparity in wages earned between races and genders, the greater culprit has remained the disparity in skills brought to that job market. Inaccurate measures like unearned diplomas and inflated grades present a continuing obstacle to education progress and parity.

It is no coincidence that disparities in graduation rates, skills assessments, and standardized test scores reflect, or foreshadow, the disparities we see in wages and income later in life. It certainly is true that discrimination plays a role in how kids are educated, and this deserves attention, but the disparities we see in earnings stem from real difference in abilities and skills that contribute to an employer’s success.

For Blacks, grade inflation fools the group into thinking that they are more capable than their actual skill sets reflect. The marketplace in turn makes its adjustment for the inflation by discounting wages to match actual skills. Blacks and others misread this as race discrimination by the employer, and this sets up a ‘chicken and egg’ confrontation that is a lose-lose proposition for both sides.

James C. Collier


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