This could make you mad, cause you to shrug, or perhaps induce some other emotion somewhere in between. You might say, “well, sure, of course it does.” Hopefully it makes you think.
Dan Pink wrote a post yesterday on the correlation of parental income level and child SAT scores. His post triggered a wave of comments on his blog, of course, from many different viewpoints (from parents, educators, philosophers, admissions folks, etc.).
Pink is not saying that income causes higher SAT scores, by the way. He points this out in his post, below the graph. But it begs the question (from an educational and policy perspective): What should be done about the situation? Why does the graph look the way it does? If it makes you mad, then what can we do for students that come from low income families, to make up for the inequality of resources that leads to the disparity in test scores? What can we do about the test itself? Many factors related to economics and education obviously have an effect on the student that’s walking in to take the SAT, and therefore have an effect on the resulting scores. When you compound the effect that income has on all other aspects of a students life (schools attended, education of the parents, academic support from tutors, etc.), it’s not surprising that the graph looks the way it does.
Pink also points out:
My hypothesis — again, a guess rather than an assertion — is that the households in the top tier often have two parents with graduate degrees. That is, they’re rich and they’re well-educated and that’s a hard combo to beat. If that turns out to be true, it suggests that one most influential, but not much remarked upon, social forces in America is assortative mating by education level.
Our jobs as teachers, in the broadest sense, is to take students from where they are, and to develop their skills, work with them to reach towards their academic and creative potential, to move them towards independence as learners, and in the process teach them some content that will be useful after they leave our classrooms. Does Pink’s post change this? Probably not. Perhaps it gets you to think about the students that you teach, and how you reach them, regardless of background and parental income level.