Young Americans like to watch?

“Reading Scores on National Exam Decline in Half the States” (nytimes):

Two out of three children did not meet the standards for reading proficiency set by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a test administered by the National Center for Education Statistics, the research arm of the Education Department.

The dismal results reflected the performance of about 600,000 students in reading and math, whose scores made up what is called the “nation’s report card.” The average eighth-grade reading score declined in more than half of the states compared with 2017, the last time the test was given. The average score in fourth-grade reading declined in 17 states. Math scores remained relatively flat in most states.

I was praying that this was statistical noise and we would find the the scores went up in half the states. But “Washington, D.C., was the only city or state to have significant improvement in eighth-grade reading, according to a federal analysis of the data.”

[Separately, looks as though Harvard will need to continue its program of race discrimination for at least another 4 years:

White, black, Hispanic, Native American and multiracial students all lost ground in eighth-grade reading, while there was no significant change for Asian students.

(Note how people with heritage from India, Burma, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Korea, and Japan are lumped together by the Diversity VirtueCorps as “Asians”.)]

Schools are consuming more taxpayer cash than ever. To what can we attribute the decline in performance? Some theories..

Maybe there is no decline in school performance, but the student population has changed as the academically successful have fewer children and the academically unsuccessful have a high fertility rate. Eventually most Americans will be descended from people who did not do well in school and who did not work or worked at jobs that did not require reading. If the parents did not like to read, why would the kids?

iPads, videogames, and smartphones are to blame. As in Being There, students liked to watch TV, but they love to play with tablets, smartphones, and Xbox.

The assigned books are less interesting. Our local K-8 school, soon to be in its $250,000/student new building, has adopted a reading list that concentrates on victimhood. Students are supposed to learn about the struggles of immigrants, people of color, women, etc. Maybe K-8 Americans just don’t care about these particular victims in the way that their adult teachers thought they would.

Readers: What do you think could account for this slide?

17 thoughts on “Young Americans like to watch?

  1. Video is replacing text as the mane mode of communication. Most of the content being created nowadays is only in video format. The only way to learn most new programs is video tutorials. Being bound to text is a good way to get left behind.

    Text dominated most of history because there wasn’t enough bandwidth to convey video. Once the bandwidth became available, there wasn’t a need to tell instead of showing. There’s still a need for text, but not at the level of generation X’s test scores. They really need a new test on holding a phone cam horizontally.

  2. What accounts for that? Teachers. Not only schools get losers who couldn’t make it in the industry, they get losers who are hard-core ideological zombies – more interested in brainwashing kids than teaching them anything useful. Which requires discipline and not being shy abour understanding diffrences between different groups.

    • What leeway do teachers even have in setting their curriculum in the modern era of standardized testing and “teaching to the test”?

      Despite what Jack says, they are most definitely not IQ tests. They rely heavily on memorization and rote repetition.

      Where’s your basis for claiming “brainwashing”?

  3. Standardized exams are IQ tests and the literature seems to show that IQ is stable over one’s lifetime regardless of any interventions. See Haier’s “The Neuroscience of Intelligence.” So if the numbers above are statistically significant the most likely explanation is that the cohort has changed, e.g. the more intelligent are having fewer children. Explanations like video games, bad schools, bad teachers, racism, boring text books seem to focus on what the literature says are irrelevant factors. As the PISA tests show, by world standards the US is a mediocre performer. See
    Our immigration policy is not based on intelligence so it is not surprising that the US by world standards ranks about average in intelligence notwithstanding that we spent the most money on education. Again if intelligence is largely inherited, and that is what the literature seems to show, then it is not surprising that the excess expenditures produce little in the way of results at the mean. Unfortunately the science of intelligence has been verboten in the US for several generations — look what happened to poor Larry Summers when he speculated that differences in male and female math performance might be biological rather than based on sexism — so instead we focus on bad teachers, racism, video games and so on.

    • Bad teachers is the major part of the problem: the reason why a large part of US population are members of the cult of equality of outcomes (no matter the aptitude or work ethics) is because they were taught this as kids. They vote and push for more policies which favor dumb people and support their procreation. It used to be that if you can’t afford a family you don’t make children (this was enforced ny women refusing sex with losers… they knew that they and their kids will live in poverty as the consequence). Now kids are seen as meal ticket thanks to the govt handouts. Same goes for illegal immigration which preferentially attracts the lowest quality people. (Those who are smarter usually do OK on their native land, and aren’t inclined to risk everything for a chance in the alien land).

      The believers in the literal equality (as opposed to equality of rights, which is logically incompatible with literal equality) are not very bright people and fail to see the inevitable long-term consequences of their policies. The post-modernist idiocy of seeing reality as a social construct helps with that selective blindness to actual objective realty. Not that most cultists know where their beliefs had been before, and how many people these beliefs already murdered.

  4. (Note how people with heritage from India, Burma, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Korea, and Japan are lumped together by the Diversity VirtueCorps as “Asians”.)

    Apparently, most of the US population are members of this organization, including you.

    The exceptions would be people who still use the term Oriental.

    Also “the student population has changed as the academically successful have fewer children and the academically unsuccessful have a high fertility rate” may be an interesting guess, but your quote says that there was little or no change in the scores in the math scored, so it’s probably not a good explanation.

    • I am one of those people who use the word Oriental; and sometimes I would even say–gasp–Oriental rugs (!) I feel inadequate, I feel deplorable. Do I have to be enlightened? where do I sign for a progressive re-education camp? where do the cattle cars make a stop?

    • From what I understand, Asian-Americans don’t like being called Orientals. The issue is manners, politeness. If you want to be rude, if you want to be a jerk, you’re free to do so.

    • I suppose that I need be more clear. The concept is easy to grasp. No camp is necessary. Each individual is free to decide if he or she wants to be polite or a jerk.

  5. >> What do you think could account for this slide?
    I bet it’s lack of diversity: someone forgot to tell the Asian kids that math is racist and they deserve better.
    Hence the “Asians” are so underdeveloped that even Harvard won’t take them–just Caltech.

  6. Cancer and obesity and “autism” rates in the youth are skyrocketing but policy nerds are looking at literacy rates without connecting the dots. The health of the population is crashing and stuff like reading ability is just derivative of that.

  7. Number of children doesn’t actually vary all that much by income and education – a weak effect at best, and a slow one, and of course you would expect to see similar declines in other developed countries. I have conducted a small-N uncontrolled study that shows that exposure to the works of JK Rowling has a strong positive correlation with literacy.

    Reading material that celebrates victims is hardly new; here in Ireland, the landscape is stuffed with victims of this or that, in some areas literally so, and the school curriculum reflects this. In England, the Book of Martyrs is “exactly what it says on the tin”, and for that matter, the Bible itself has a lot to say about the persecuted.

    What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

  8. I do think it is dwarfed by other effects! For example, our household income suggests we “should” have 1.8 children, but due to my wife’s preferences in this matter we actually have roughly 4.0. One of her sisters has 3 kids, another has 6, a first cousin has 15 or 16, & so on. Among our social circle, 0.8 kids is nothing to write home about!

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