SAT average score watch: The triumph of Brunidowdism!


About those new SAT scores: It would be hard to overstate the dumbness of our journalistic elite.

For our money, the New York Times’ new “Sunday Review” section represents this culture’s fullest flowering. Yesterday’s section was especially painful. Beyond that, it was damaging to progressive interests.

For a very limited example, consider the way Bruni and Dowd discussed the new SAT scores.

Last week, the College Board released information about this year’s SAT scores. The New York Times did a very weak news report on the data. The Washington Post did somewhat better.

By Sunday, two of the New York Times' resident dummies were throwing out inane observations about these new test scores.

We read Bruni’s column first. For some reason, he’s currently lounging in Italy, offering his inane observations from over there. At one point, he offered these truly pathetic pensees about those new test scores:
BRUNI (9/18/11): Meantime, we keep slipping educationally, and the gap between rich and poor widens. Last week’s joyous revelations? The College Board reported that for the high school class of 2011, the average SAT reading score was the lowest on record, while the Census Bureau reported that the percentage of Americans living below the poverty line last year, 15.1 percent, was the highest since 1993. These aren’t the building blocks of a better tomorrow.
Bruni offered those SAT scores as evidence that “we keep slipping educationally.” Already, the analysts were weeping. But then, they read the utterly hopeless Dowd. Inevitably, she pimped the same point:
DOWD (9/18/11): Our education system is going to hell. Average SAT scores are falling, and America is slipping down the list of nations for college completion. And Rick Perry stands up with a smirk to talk to students about how you can get C’s, D’s and F’s and still run for president.
To the utterly hopeless Dowd, those SAT scores mean that “our education system is going to hell.”

We’ll discuss Dowd’s views of Perry tomorrow. For today, let’s consider what those blockheads wrote about those test scores.

It’s true. The College Board did release this year’s average scores; those new scores are marginally lower than last year’s. But as almost everyone knows by now, it’s very hard to use SAT scores as a measure of national attainment. The SAT is not administered to every high school senior; it is not administered to a carefully-selected sample of the nation’s seniors. The test is taken on a voluntary basis—and the percentage of students taking the test gets larger pretty much every year.

Only the very dimmest souls fail to understand what that means. On the front page of the Washington Post, Michael Chandler reported the growth in the size of the tested population this year:
CHANDLER (9/15/11): Colleges have used the SAT to gauge applicants since 8,040 students took the first exam in 1926. Since then, the voluntary test has been taken by a less and less elite group and has become a closely watched measure of school system performance. However, many factors outside the classroom, including family income and education levels, can influence the results. Schools in poor neighborhoods tend to have lower scores.

For the first time, the College Board said, more than half of all high school graduates—or 1.65 million students—took the exam. That was up from 47 percent in 2010.
Duh. Last year alone, the percentage of seniors taking the test went from 47 percent to (groan) “more than half.” Everyone understands what this means—except the dunderheads who type for the Times, sometimes from suites in Milan.

What happened to SAT scores this year? In reading, the average score was 497, down three points from 2010. The average math score was 514, down one point from last year. (But up by five points from 1972, according to Chandler’s report.) Given the growth in the percentage of students tested, those minor changes don’t mean a thing, absent a very detailed analysis.

Everyone understands such facts, except people who are just flat stupid—people like Bruni and Dowd. We’ll also mention the aged E. D. Hirsch, and the hapless New York Times editor who published his column today:
HIRSCH (9/19/11): The latest bad but unsurprising news on education is that reading and writing scores on the SAT have once again declined. The language competence of our high schoolers fell steeply in the 1970s and has never recovered.
Whatever one thinks of Hirsch’s overall claims, that opening sentence is blindingly stupid. That made it a perfect fit for the New York Times op-ed page.

Can we talk? By themselves, those SAT scores tell us nothing at all. Surely, everyone understands that. But by now, our upper-end journalistic elite has become, in effect, a small, inbred, blindingly stupid mafia.

Through their utterly stupid remarks, Bruni and Dowd kept spreading a tired canard—a scripted, blindingly stupid notion which serves the plutocrats’ interests.

“Our education system is going to hell?” Actually, no, it isn’t—and those SAT scores provide no evidence one way or the other. But Dowd's statement was typed from Hades itself—from the hell to which we all stand condemned by the triumph of Brunidowdism.


  1. I got called to task (Math Dept head in a suburban high school) one year when our SAT math score went down by 2 points. We encouraged everyone to try the test, and more than 80 per cent of our seniors did.
    "What are you going to do about it?"
    "I'll look into the numbers and let you know."

    I found three kids who could have stayed in bed that Saturday morning and our score would have risen by 2 points instead.

    "Well, what are you going to do?'
    "Nothing about that 'problem'!"

    I was not an administrator very long.