Comments on: It doesn’t matter where your kid goes to school A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 By: Roni1385 Thu, 01 Sep 2011 05:34:52 +0000 Being a student that was probably in the bottom 10 percent of my class at Stuyvesant, my point of reference is different, but my conclusion the same: Though the vast majority of teachers were bad (ironically, the best teacher I had at Stuy was a Stuy alum himself), it was the student body that made the school special.

I’m sure most of the graduates from Stuyvesant would have fared just as well academically in other high schools (perhaps even better), however, the experience of being surrounded by peers who were just as “nerdy” as you, especially during your teenage years, really helped you develop in ways that this study couldn’t measure.

I had to attend my local high school for summer classes a few times and the difference between the two schools was startling. If I raised my hand to answer a question at my local high school, the kids would immediately ostracize me, which made me reluctant to participate. At Stuy, the same thing would immediately spark a discussion in class and, at worst, lead to a controlled argument. Most teachers just sat back and let the students teach themselves. Even us underachievers would sometimes spend free periods or times spent cutting classes talking about math, science, or politics. I’m sure I wouldn’t have the same luxury in my local high school.

Even as a bottom ten-percenter, I had no problem getting into college and doing well once I got there. If I had gone to my local high school, perhaps I would’ve gotten into a better college since it would’ve been easier to stand out and do well academically. But ultimately, I still managed to be just fine and ended up an engineer.
Again, the value of going to a specialized high school comes down to the student body – even the “bad kids” end up doing okay for themselves.

By: mattmc Sun, 21 Aug 2011 06:00:38 +0000 Wow…very surprising results. I think the key problem with the study is that the tests considered don’t likely show performance at the margins well- the SAT didn’t test anything I learned after ninth grade. One advantage of going to a selective high school is that there are more people at your level which provides flexibility in attending advanced courses… for example, no other school available offered 2 years of courses beyond AP calc or AP computer science. I was able to score 5 on 8 AP exams and get a year of college credit. There were plenty of students to support a variety of intellectual clubs. There was the freedom from the typical American HS sports dominated culture, which is good for many…

Perhaps the downside is that you don’t get to be the best. After years of being the smartest person I knew, it was a bit humbling to be exposed to others on the same level, and those that definitely exceeded me in effort or ability in various courses. I lost a little bit of the leadership opportunity that would have been more easily afforded to me…

By: hsvkitty Thu, 18 Aug 2011 19:26:15 +0000 My ex has mild autism or if you prefer, Aspergers. It often comes with ADHD and other learning and social disorders.

He couldn’t read, write or spell at the age of 12. He was considered severely retarded because of his test scores. Fortunately his parents didn’t give up and a very astute and forward thinking Psychologist in Montreal saw he had incredible potential and focused on that. That man became a pioneer in learning disabilities and brain development.

At 13, my ex was able to be integrated back into a normal school and today, he is considered brilliant by his peers. He reads voraciously, sometimes a hefty novel a day. Had his test scores been the only rating, he would have had great difficulty finding employment (now, he heads a department in a large corporation) and certainly never have been able to complete high school.

Although my ex would never be able to achieve the high test scores I did, he has the superior intellect.

@CurtD59, excellent comment!

By: Felsina Thu, 18 Aug 2011 18:53:21 +0000 My understanding is that the study considered two metrics: college admissions, and SAT scores. There are easy arguments against both methods.

-Admissions offices try to diversify their student body; a good student at a mediocre high school has a better chance at getting in to a good college than an equally good student at an excellent high school. In effect, there’s a double standard: more is expected from students who attend very good schools.

-The SAT I covers middle school material, so it’s not surprising that students who could have gone to a selective high school did as well on the SAT I as selective high school graduates: this control group was selected, I imagine, by virtue of being at the same level as selective high school students at the beginning of high school (or the end of middle school). It’s a circular proof. The authors of the study would have done better to look at SAT II (subject test) or AP exam results.

I went to Hunter College High School, and every day I am grateful for the education I received there.

By: Reihan Thu, 18 Aug 2011 17:12:37 +0000 Re: jfruh:

That was precisely my point. Peer groups are important. I also attended a summer program (TASP) that was very influential, and wasn’t connected to Stuyvesant — but of course I was inclined to go because I had a crush on a girl who had gone to the program the year before me, and she was a Stuyvesant student.

By: TFF Thu, 18 Aug 2011 12:49:09 +0000 CurtD is correct. The social aspect of schooling is at least as important as the academic aspect in long-term success.

My personal experience as a child in a “good” suburban public school was awful. My academic strengths weren’t challenged (I repeated 6th grade math three times because they had no idea what to do with me after that), and my academic weaknesses weren’t challenged (my handwriting was illegible in 7th grade, and I could not construct a coherent paragraph). Essentially no friends, either in school or outside, until very late in high school — and even now I fear social situations.

I contrast, I have seen my son slowly emerge in a private Montessori setting. He has much the same strengths and weaknesses that I did, but has started exploring friendships in second grade and has developed the manual control necessary for both handwriting and art work.

The funny thing? My test scores were off the charts. It was one of very few things that I did well, so I made a point of doing it very, very well. My son may never test that well — but I see in him the seeds of a more complete adult.

Test scores don’t tell the whole story.

By: CurtD59 Thu, 18 Aug 2011 09:20:57 +0000 This is A RIDICULOUS argument.

1) Success in life is dependent upon manners, ethics, morals, class values, cooperation skills, and relationships as much as upon test scores. (Per research into millionaires)

2) Tests measure two things a) genetics and b) exposure to general knowledge.

3) Private Schools filter. That’s what they do. IT’s good for business.

4) By filtering schools can more easily create manners, ethics, morals, class values. They cannot create test scores. If we measured values ethics, manners, morals and class values we would have a higher predictor of success than we would by measuring general knowledge. No one can ‘see’ your scores. They can see your ethics.

5) If we measure by output criteria (what people accomplish) not input criteria (filtering) then small liberal arts colleges win over large state schools and elite schools. (See Sowell)

Education matters. Test scores tell us something. But the truth is that general knowledge, and cooperative skills are more important for most of the area under the curve.

So we are too often having the wrong conversation. It is a conversation driven by the data we have rather than the data we do not have. Which is in itself a common problem in economics and the social sciences.


(PS: Love some of the sarcasm in the comments. Good elitism at play. And we should all defend elitism whenever possible.)

By: lemmycaution415 Thu, 18 Aug 2011 02:03:53 +0000 “Work on college / university outcomes says that kids who get into a higher ranked, more prestigious school but who go to a lesser school, do as well in salary.”

That study doesn’t say what everyone believes that it says. This effect only deals with the average sat score of the school. When you look at the prestige of the school you get a 13% benefit in salary for those who went to a “most” prestigious school over those who got into the “most” prestigious school and went to a “highly” prestigious school. Check out starting on page 24: 09.pdf llege-prestige-matters.html

By: jomiku Thu, 18 Aug 2011 01:04:22 +0000 There’s surprisingly little research on outcomes. Here’s a bit:

1. Work on college / university outcomes says that kids who get into a higher ranked, more prestigious school but who go to a lesser school, do as well in salary. This suggests it’s the person that matters, not the name on the degree. The work in this area is not exhaustive.

2. Every one familiar with grad school admissions knows that when testing counts a lot, that favors the “Ivy” kids who test high. They tested high on the SAT so they test high on the LSAT. A kid who tests high can go anywhere and do as well; there is no “Ivy” benefit, just that kids get in who test well. (This testing difference is then used, btw, to justify higher grades at Ivy schools. Kind of perverse, I’d say, to work backwards from ability testing to justify very high grade levels.)

By: strawman Wed, 17 Aug 2011 23:59:47 +0000 @inboulder: I’m not sure if you’re intentionally being rude and ignoring social mores, but there was probably a less abrasive way of saying that.