Classic EssaysWilliam Pierce

Tests Show Students Learning Less


by Dr. William L. Pierce

FOR the thirteenth straight year, graduating high school seniors in 1975 were dumber than those of the year before. Nearly one million college-bound seniors took the Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT) offered by the College Entrance Examination Board this year, and their scores were the lowest which have been recorded since the SATs were first offered more than 20 years ago. The scores began dropping in 1963 and have fallen each year since then, with a particularly sharp decline this year.

(PHOTO: RUSSIAN SCHOOLCHILDREN still have the benefits of order and discipline in their classrooms, not to mention a greatly superior racial environment. The slack-jawed “do your own thing” philosophy of the U.S. advocates of race-mixing and permissiveness has been rejected by Soviet educators. They are training a generation of disciplined, hard-working, self-confident men and women to take up the role of world leadership which America is letting slip from its grasp.)

The tests measure mathematical reasoning ability and “verbal skills” — i.e., the ability to understand written English — and College Board staffers who have been studying and analyzing the declining scores for the past few years are convinced the slump is not the result of technicalities in the tests.

“There is a decline in the verbal and mathematical reasoning ability among those who choose to take the SATs,” concluded Carol Halstead of the College Board. Other educators across the nation have been forced to the same conclusion.

“The verbal skills of students have gone down incredibly in the last 10 years,” said Dr. Shirley Kenny, head of the University of Maryland’s English department.

At the University of Wisconsin, where prospective journalism students are required to take a qualifying examination in English usage, the failure rate has increased from 25 per cent of those taking the exam in 1971 to 60 per cent this year. “Students are not convinced they need to know how to write,” said Wisconsin English Professor William Lenehan.

The same, sad story is told at the country’s prestige schools: “There has to be some truth in the statements that the writing experience of our students is not as rich as it used to be, ” said Donald Dickason, Cornell University’s dean of admissions. “Our students arc following the national trends, although at a slower rate.”

The sharp national decline in the ability of college-bound high school graduates to reason mathematically and to read and write can be explained in part by the increasing number of Negroes who are being recruited by U.S. colleges and universities, under pressure from the Federal government. As the percentage of Negro students taking the SATs has risen, the average scores have fallen. It is in the abstract mental processes tested by the SATs that Negroes suffer their most severe genetic shortcoming.

But the scores of White students have also been falling, and this can only be attributed to two things: growing alienation, which is affecting every segment of our society, and a declining habit of self-discipline among young people.

In a sense, however, both these factors are related to the racial factor. Alienation is the inevitable consequence of the destruction of a racially homogeneous environment, while the decline in self-discipline has followed the catastrophic disruption of external discipline in America’s racially mixed schools.

The ability for self-discipline — the most important and valuable ability an individual can acquire — is developed most readily in an orderly, disciplined environment. The disappearance of the latter — completely aside from racial considerations — is not unrelated, of course, to the rise of neo-liberalism as the dominant factor in the philosophy of the American educational “Establishment” in recent decades. The liberal instinctively abhors all authority, structure, form, order, discipline.

But the growing formlessness of school curricula and teaching methods is being accelerated by the influx of Blacks into formerly White schools. Since Negro children score lower on tests and fail courses more often than White children, the educators have decided that tests are “culturally biased” against Negroes and that course grades are “unfair.”

For a child, Black or White, to be given a grade lower than some other child is running the risk of damaging the child’s self-esteem, they reason. Thus grows the “fun-and games” approach to education.

Since Blacks simply are not equipped by Nature to cope with the abstract reasoning required to solve problems in algebra or prove theorems in geometry, educators have begun shifting away from the former stress on problem-solving, with its requirements for sufficient intelligence to acquire a rigorous mastery of subject matter. Instead, the emphasis is now being placed on such ill-defined qualities as student “originality” and “creativity.” Students are given a superficial overview of subject matter and misled into believing that they have mastered it.

School courses in the humanities are suffering a fate similar to the sciences. Since Black students find it hard to maintain much interest in history courses which deal almost exclusively with White Civilization, history is being de-emphasized for all students. Instead of being required to study the past, with its vital lessons for the present, students are allowed to enroll in “Modern Ceramics” or “Art Forms in the Cinema.” Needless to say, Black performance in such “fun” courses much more nearly equals White performance than in the older curriculum.

With the same result in mind, educators are looking for alternatives to the SATs. “If the skills demanded by these tests (SATs) are what it takes to get through college, then maybe it’s the colleges that ought to change,” says David Darland, an official of the neo-liberal National Education Association. And so a Federally subsidized program has recently developed a new set of tests — the National Assessment Tests (NAT) — which are claimed to be more “relevant” than the SATs.

The NATs have been designed to measure student mastery of such basic “life skills” as interpreting highway signs, giving correct change, telling time, understanding road maps, using telephone directories, and reading advertisements. Much to the disappointment of the NATs’ designers, however, the gap between Black and White performance on the new tests remains nearly as large as on the SATs. In 1974, for example, the NATs were given to 5,200 17-year-old high school juniors. Of these, 93.8 per cent of the Whites were able to achieve a passing score of 75 per cent, while only 62 per cent of the Blacks passed.

It seems clear that all such misguided efforts to establish educational “equality” between Blacks and Whites are doomed to failure by the unavoidable facts of biological inequality. The professed equalitarian goal of “a quality education for all children, regardless of race” is being exposed as a hypocritical sham, as its advocates continue to undermine the quality of education for all children.

The truly horrendous result of the destruction of America’s schools by racial mixing and permissiveness is that we are now raising a generation of White Americans who cannot compete in an increasingly dangerous and hostile world.

* * *

From Attack! No. 40, 1975

transcribed by Vanessa Neubauer from the book The Best of Attack! and National Vanguard, edited by Kevin Alfred Strom

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