Current Reading

This blog is primarily for me to blog my responses to books that I'm reading. Sometimes I blog about other stuff too, though.

I'm currently re-reading Systems of Survival by Jane Jacobs.

Word cloud

Word cloud

Monday, May 16, 2016

Advantage: Advantaged.

A few years ago the Obama administration announced that it was going to put out a "college scorecard" showing data that would help students evaluate colleges.  Supposedly this was Going To Change Everything.

Well, the Chronicle of Higher Education has looked at early results, and it appears that the students who made the most use of this information are students from advantaged backgrounds.
The earnings data, however, did make a difference. (While there have been other efforts to measure postcollege income, this particular metric was new.) Colleges with higher-than-median earnings saw higher-than-expected growth in scores sent in the months after the September release, while those with lower-than-median earnings had lower-than-expected growth. The researchers estimate that for every 10-percent increase in earnings, the number of scores sent rose 2.4 percent.
But when the researchers dug deeper, they found that only some students had been swayed by the new earnings information. "The impact," they wrote, "is driven almost entirely by well-resourced high schools and students." When the researchers looked at parental education, the Scorecard’s impact was concentrated among students whose parents had at least some college. When they looked at race, it was concentrated among students who were white and Asian. And when they looked at school type, it was concentrated among those attending well-resourced public — and even more so, private — schools. 
"The subgroups of students expected to enter the college-search process with the most information and most cultural capital," the researchers wrote, "are exactly the students who responded most strongly to the Scorecard."
If you think about it, it makes sense:  The people who will make the greatest use of information will be those who are the most sophisticated at using information or have people to help them make sophisticated use of information, and those will mostly be students who are already pretty advantaged.  It's not so different from Kentaro Toyama's idea of a "Law of Amplification" in his book Geek Heresy.

But, rest assured dear reader, that the next set of metrics and information resources will Change Everything and totally level the playing field.  Mark my words.  It's coming.  None of this has happened before...or something.

1 comment:

Gene Callahan said...

We can try to be kind to the disadvantaged. But to actually "level the playing field," we'd have to make sure that no parents do more for their kids than the absolute least capable parent in the nation.

And I don't think we want to do that.