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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Our Weakened System of Education ... Inputs and Outputs ... The M.B.A. Example and the Capability of U.S. Students Compared to Asians

The benefits we derive from things are a direct result of the time and effort we put into those same things. We refer to this input-output connection as productivity, aka the relation between what goes in and what comes out.

The more we get out of any given amount of effort in terms of time, money, or machinery, the more productive we are. And in the final analysis, it is this thing we call productivity that determines our individual, national and global prosperity. Inputs generate outputs.

In education the discussion seems to always focus on spending more money and not the skills, knowledge or capabilities of the finished product, aka the 'educated' individual. But in education, as elsewhere, productivity matters most, and outputs must become Job #1.

Compared to the rest of the world, the overall U.S. educational system, all the way from K-12 through college, is too expensive and our students are becoming uncompetitive globally.

As a result, the system is sending warning signals about our nation's future competitiveness, and in turn, our future prosperity.

So let's wake up while there's still plenty of time to fix what ails us educationally. And let's make sure that our young graduates are prepared to compete with all comers in the competitive global marketplace of the future.

On B-School Test, Americans Fail to Measure Up offers this gruesome commentary:

"New waves of Indians and Chinese are taking America’s business-school entrance exam, and that’s causing a big problem for America’s prospective M.B.A.s.

Why? The foreign students are much better at the test.

Asia-Pacific students have shown a mastery of the quantitative portion of the four-part Graduate Management Admission Test. That has skewed mean test scores upward, and vexed U.S. students, whose results are looking increasingly poor in comparison. . . .

The GMAT, administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council, is typically required to apply to M.B.A. programs, along with undergraduate transcripts, essay responses and letters of recommendation. Students at top programs like Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business have mean GMAT rankings around the 96th percentile.

Of the test’s four sections—writing, integrated reasoning, quantitative and verbal—admissions officers view results from the quantitative section as a key predictor of business school success.

Percentile rankings are calculated using a raw score—for the quantitative section, typically between 0 and 51. In 2004, a raw score of 48 in the quantitative section yielded a ranking in the 86th percentile, according to GMAC; today, that same score would land the test-taker in the 74th percentile.

U.S. students’ raw scores on the quantitative section have remained roughly flat over the last decade at around 33, but their percentile ranking has fallen as more of their higher-scoring international counterparts take the exam.

Hires with Western training are in demand overseas, and students from Asia are flocking to U.S. business schools. Asia-Pacific students comprise 44% of current GMAT test-takers, up from a decade ago, when they represented 22%, according to GMAC. U.S. students, once the majority of test-takers, now comprise 36% of the whole.

On average, Asia citizens fare better on the quantitative section of the exam than Americans do, according to GMAC data. This year, the mean raw score for students in the Asian-Pacific region on that section was 45, above the global mean of 38 and the U.S. mean of 33. . . .

The shifting data give an impression that U.S. student aptitude is declining, said Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC’s chief executive officer. He said schools have complained to him that the test’s global rankings were becoming more difficult to interpret and asked for new ways to assess both U.S. and foreign test-takers separately.

To address those concerns, GMAC in September introduced a benchmarking tool that allows admissions officers to compare applicants against their own cohort, filtering scores and percentile rankings by world region, country, gender and college grade-point average. . . .

Rather than effectively creating a different standard for U.S. students, one admissions officer at a top-ranked business school said American students need better math instruction, starting in elementary school. Students in South and East Asia tend to have a strong grounding in math fundamentals during school . . . .

American business schools . . . don’t want to become factories for high-scoring test-takers from abroad."

Summing Up

Relative performance counts. That's why we keep score.

Facts are stubborn things, but knowing what's what will wake us up and ensure that the U.S. remains the top performing economy in the world.

And for that to happen, America's students must be the top performers as well.

Our system of education needs careful and immediate national attention to fix what's wrong and continue to build upon what's right.

That's my take.

Thanks. Bob.


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