>> Half of all freshmen need remediation? Plainly, >> something has gone terribly wrong...
>I am not convinced that something has gone terribly >wrong, though I agree that there are things that need >fixing. Things have always been terribly wrong, >depending on one's interpretation of what is right. > >Consider these facts (I know that all facts are >disputable); >
>In 1932 20% of 12th-grade students could compute 2.1% of >60.
Was this 20% of college-bound seniors? You may recall that certainly before about 1970, and maybe into the 1980's in some places, high school was not monolithic. Typically, there were three broad categories of education, often comprehended within the same school (hence, "comprehensive high school"). Roughly 80% of students followed a vocational track or a general education track. Neither track typically led to college. Only about 20% of high school students, those who were college-bound, followed an academic track. Obviously, these figures varied over time and place, but I am pretty sure I am in the right order of magnitude.
The NY Times article I cited said that 50% of students already in college need remediation. So, we are talking about college students, and for our discussion to be coherent we need to be comparing college-bound high school students, then and now.
Your 20% figure corresponds rather well to my information, viz, that college-bound students were reasonably well prepared for college. Why is this no longer true?
>In 1937 Taylor studied more than 2000 freshmen in >teachers' colleges and found that more than half could >not divide 175 by 0.35.
This reinforces a result already much discussed: that prospective teachers are typically the worst quality students on a college campus. It has been long observed that the fine arts students tend to score high on the verbal part of standardized tests and low on the quantitative part while engineering students tended to score high on the quantitative part and low on the verbal part. Education students tend to score lower on the verbal part than the engineers and lower on the math part than the fine artists. Consequently, among his many travails, David Berliner has to explain how we get good results in public education by hiring the lowest quality students produced by colleges. Unless what he means by "good results" is not what most of us have in mind.
>The rate of college enrollment immediately after high >school completion increased from 49% in 1972 to 70% by >2009.
This is the question that gets to the heart of the matter. Do more students go to college because more students are academically prepared, or are we observing what I call the Wizard of Oz Phenomenon (aka, the Anybody Can Have a Brain phenomenon), http://youtu.be/ky7DMCHQJZY In this scene, The Scarecrow is suddenly thinking deep thoughts on a subject (that sounds like mathematics) he did not study simply because the Wizard, who could not teach him the subject, awarded him a piece of paper.
More and more people are starting to suspect our public schools are playing The Wizard of Oz. David Berliner should stop calling people liars and address the issue. In his article, "Three Decades of Lies," Berliner discusses a lot of economics, geopolitics, and business, for which he has no academic background or experience so far as I can tell, but he actually says nothing about education. And he calls a lot of pretty impressive people liars, http://mathforum.org/kb/message.jspa?messageID=8906680