Articles are available for reprint as long as the author is acknowledged: Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Know It All Epidemic is Bringing Down SAT Scores


By Domenick J. Maglio PhD. Traditional Realist

Grandparents and most parents are amazed at how smart the younger generation is compared to them. These people say when they were that age they did not know how to use all the electronic gizmos and computers like today’s children. The older generation fails to realize there were minimal to no computerized items. Probably they would be as adept at them as are modern children if they had had the electronics.

Today’s children live in a world where their parents, teachers and other adults have been indoctrinated by child rearing experts and psychologists to rave about any actions of a child that do not maim others or destroy things. Praise is supposed to be the ultimate elixir for the child’s overall development and wellbeing in our politically correct culture.

According to experts, positive reinforcement will insure a happy, healthy and successful person. As long as a child has high self-esteem, it is said she will automatically blossom into an invincible, brilliant human specimen.

The high self esteem movement has worked although not in the way these professionals thought it would. Instead of being beneficial across the board, it has produced an epidemic of KIAD, the Know It All Disease.

This disease is preventing the brains of our children from absorbing new information starting in elementary school. People of any age who believe they know everything have a hard time focusing on information that may challenge them. Whenever their skill and knowledge areas are pointed out to be weak or outright wrong, they arrogantly get huffy and shut down. Since our culture has practically banned honesty in evaluating youngsters in school and sports it is understandable why minors would be shocked by low test scores.

The 2011 SAT, shows reading and writing test scores for college bound seniors were the lowest ever recorded even though many experts complained the test questions were made easier when the test was changed to a three section format in 2005. Only 43% of student scores were high enough to succeed in college. Combine this with almost as many students failing than passing the Advanced Placement tests and the National Assessment of Education Progress results, which demonstrate American students are doing poorly as compared to other nations. There is a significant failure in our government schools.

Predictably education experts who have a vested interest in public education attempt to excuse the SAT results. They talk about the expanded pool of test takers from Black and Hispanic minorities as the reason for these low scores. They ignore the fact that this is not the first time we had to assimilate other ethnic groups. This test has existed since 1933, for eight decades.

These experts fail to note a blatant shortcoming to the U.S. education approach: worthless evaluations or none at all. Children receive unearned high grades for little effort and minimal academic achievement. These inflated grades seem to be placating parents and students. Awards are meaningless when everyone is given one. We are living in a society where every participant has to receive a trophy for attending a certain number of games and are placed on the honor role for doing no more than warming a seat in school.

KIAD has produced a large number of delusional students. They do not have an ounce of humility and possess tons of arrogance. Many educators want the SAT and other standardized tests to disappear. They do not want to be held accountable. Instead of observing what is happening in our schools, they want to dismantle these tests by using “culture bias” as an excuse. This means that any standard chosen to measure learning that predicts success in higher education has to be prejudicial against minorities. This is a ridiculous analysis of standardized testing since it accurately predicts success in higher education. All students need to acquire the same skill set to have the building blocks to understand and learn complex concepts.

Attacking tests or the need for evaluation is a strategy for spreading a real pandemic of students who think they are too smart to learn. This attempt at denying the validity of all testing has to end.

American education needs to stop making silly rationalizations and begin to inoculate students against the Know It All Disease: KIAD. This would be accomplished by giving an honest evaluation of knowledge and behavior to the student and the parents. Students need to be openly compared through posting their grades and being honestly critiqued by their teachers and peers. This allows them to gain a true perspective of their standing in class.

Accurate feedback will undermine false self-esteem while increasing a student’s confidence through self-competence.

Integrity of evaluating students in their actions and behavior will be the silver bullet to obliterate this cancerous KAID. The prevention of this disease will bring more openness, humility and more improved learning behavior in our schools.

Dr. Maglio is the author of Invasion Within and Essential Parenting. He is a psychotherapist and the owner/director of Wider Horizons School.


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