When questioned in the debate re: his support for Common Core, Jeb Bush gave a mushy (and self-contradictory) answer .
When he was done, I wasn’t sure if he was for it or against it.
For his punch line, he reverted to the universal “we need to set higher standards” argument.
A couple of other candidates jumped in to praise higher standards.
Sounds like motherhood, right?
I’m not so sure ….
First, an analogy.
With some heavy rounding, I’m 5’ 9” inches tall.
Shocker I can’t dunk a basketball on a 10 feet high basket.
I bet that a specialized coach could get my vertical leap upped by a couple of inches … but far short of dunking.
What’ll happen if the basket is raised to 11 feet?
Conceivably, I’d try harder and my vertical leap would stretch a bit higher … but I doubt it.
Most likely, I’d quit banging my head against the wall and switch sports.
The Apparent Problem
According to numerous sources :
“In a recent comparison of academic performance in 57 countries, students in the United States performed near the middle of the pack.
On average 16 other industrialized countries scored above the United States in science, and 23 scored above us in math.
Experts noted that the United States’ scores remained about the same in math between 2003 and 2006, the two most recent years the test.”
The Oft-repeated Solution:
Raise academic standards and make them consistent from state-to-state
Bingo. Problem solved.
Primed by the above analogy, I started wondering whether the issue is really that standards are too low …
After some cursory web-searching, I can’t tell if the Common Core standards are really more stringent or just different.
Old-timers might remember when the U.S. was going to adopt new standards by going metric.
How did that work out?
With no evidence to the contrary, I’ll stipulate that the Common Core standards are higher and more contemporary.
In other words, let’s hike the basket up to 11 feet.
So, the analogous question reduces to: are we underachieving for our height, or just too short?
The IQ shortfall
Keep in mind the finding that U.S. students were in the middle of a 57 country pack re: science and math scores.
Where do U.S. students stand re: IQ?
Answer: Tied for 19th place in the world (list below).
In other words, academic performance seems to correlate pretty closely with IQ.
That’s a shocker isn’t it.
Of course, correlation isn’t necessarily causation.
Still, seems like a relationship worth looking into, right?
So, why obsess over standards?
Easy answer: Because it’s doable.
Just print up some new standards, mail them out … and declare victory.
You know, just raise the basket.
That’s a lot easier than making everybody taller … or smarter
Think about it …
IQ Ranks by Country
Source: Intelligence and the Wealth and Poverty of Nations
Follow on Twitter @KenHoma