Monday, March 10, 2014

The Higher the Family Income, the Higher the SAT Scores.

Source: MSNBC
On the of the current 2,400-point scale (which will return to 1,600 as part of the reform), students from families making less than $20,000 a year averaged a combined score of 1,326 –whereas students with a family income of more than $200,000 a year scored an average of 1,714 points. 
The average score overall should be about 1,500 point. Should we be more worried about the very low scores of poor kids, or the vast differences in scores between kids from rich families and those from poor families.

How much of the difference is geographic? Are kids from the states with the worst public school systems greatly disadvantaged as compared with kids from states with the best public schools?

The SAT is designed to predict the success of students in the first year in college. Of course, it makes sense that ability in mathematics, reading and writing should help students do well. I suspect that a dozen years of good  schools and friend with academic aspirations helps the kids from high income families do well on the tests.

I also note that early child development seems to count, and a mother who talks to her infant and a good nursery school - preschool experience may carry an influence; these might be better provided by more affluent families. So too, a family that reads and that expects children to study and prepare for academic success should have children with such success, and those families might be more likely found among those with high incomes.

Genetics? Perhaps smarter parents and grandparents are more likely to have smarter children and grandchildren and to be more affluent.

Do more affluent families send kids to colleges that assure the kids do well? Seems likely. So do the SATs have some hidden aspects that predict if kids are likely to get to those colleges? Maybe.

And, as the MSNBC article suggests, high income families may pay for their kids to get special help preparing for the SATs, and perhaps that training pays off in better scores.

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