Life is a great test

By Razib Khan 12 Comments

Being Asian American is often about tests. Doing well on tests. That’s what Asian Americans are supposed to do. Two conventionally liberal (“woke”) publications have stories about test-prep, testing, and Asian American academic life.

First, in The Juggernaut, Why Test Scores Can Be a “Proxy for Privilege”. To be franky, I did not like this story, because the conclusions were already there to begin with, and the author was just figuring out how to buttressed the preexistent argument. For example:

Mettu, for example, is well aware of her advantages as the daughter of educated, middle-class Indian immigrants who could invest in her college preparation. She recognizes that few students enjoy such privilege. That is why Mettu sympathizes with efforts at higher education institutions across the country to downplay — or altogether eliminate — test scores as a criterion in admissions. “In terms of equal opportunity,” she said, “it is a good shift.”

That’s the general gist. “Actually, testing is bad for the underprivileged.” Even though standardized testing actually emerged as a way to get around the unfairness of recommendations.

Meanwhile, Refinery29 has a much better story, An Interview with an Asian student at Stuyvestant. Since it’s an interview, most of the talking is given over to the student. That results in more candor and less canned conclusions:

How do students talk about the lack of Black and Latinx students?

When the news came out, it just wasn’t a big thing in Stuy. No one cared about it. We saw it in a random newspaper and everyone was just like, okay. We’re used to places writing about us. I remember one time, one of the chairs broke during one of our theater productions, and that made headlines. Everyone was like why?

Honestly, we were more vocal about school shootings. There was a whole walkout, a lot of us missed class for it, and we went to city hall. We were way more vocal about guns. The reason that Stuy is Stuy is that we’re the smart kids who do well on tests. NYC has LaGuardia, which is for people who are good at dance or music or singing. We have other schools with different talents that anyone else with those talents can get into. I think that’s one of the reasons that everyone in Stuy thinks the SHSAT test should be there, because if the test wasn’t here, what’s the point of Stuy then? What’s the point of even being here?

One thing to note: well-off white New Yorkers send their kids to exclusive private schools like Dalton. Stuyvesant is populated by children of working-class immigrants by and large.

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12 Replies to “Life is a great test”

  1. As one who spent (lost?) years prepping for some of the most competitive uni extrance exams in India, I agree with the statement that standardised testing is bad (for everyone). But not for the reasons in the article. But what’s the alternative?

    And how does one pronounce Latinx? Do Hispanics use the word themselves?

    1. No. And even boosters of the word (eg Warren) slip into “Latino” when they aren’t setting their minds to it.

      It’s Woke AstroTurf, that’s all it is. Like many other things.

      1. bhai how is residency. intern year has been tough for me so far

        and standardized tests is what let jews into the ivies

    2. Hispanics almost never use the word. There was some polling data showing something north of 90% never use that word. It’s just a word used by woke white people for the most part.

  2. The real test is how Asians understand and respond to the massive exclusion of Asians that is now happening.

    One option is to wail and moan, and try to exert political power (pretty impossible in a democracy, since ‘being an infinite river of juicy vote-meat’ isn’t really an Asian core competence) or legal power or whatever to try to ‘fix’ this ‘terrible inequity’, etc, whatever.

    Taking this option is to fail the test.

    The second option is to recognise that, with this change, the universities have shot themselves in the face. How? Because now, given what we know of the heritability of all things, there is more ‘good blood’* outside the academy than inside it. This is great, because now, competing institutions can eat the academy’s lunch and get away with it – since, by virtue of now having *more* good blood, everybody and his dog can recognise that the mandate of Heaven has passed to the new institution. Basically, ‘default’ status being downstream of the quality of your product, they can wrest the commanding heights from the corrupted academy and keep them, since the academy has decided to retard itself. This also permanently breaks the power of the lineage network(s) (it’s a quasi-hereditary caste with its roots in New England, really) that have dominated American academia for so long – and replaces them with a multiracial elite coalition, yeehaw!

    The whites will be most grateful for this meritocratic revolution that will be their repreive, if it can be managed. They’re going to get an increasingly raw and humiliating deal as they slip into a minority ~2045, of which this current upheaval is a small taste – a foretaste of boot, just to get you used to it!

    Taking this option is what it means to conclusively win the game. And as a bonus, (on the college campuses now under your control) you can squeeze the enemy’s daughters in your arms and hear the lamentation of his (middle-aged activist/administrator/HR) women!

    (Pardon the hyperbole, but this is just too much fun.)

    * in the academic context, high-IQ and reasonable conscientiousness people – normally the pointy end of the Jewish, White, and Asian distributions, plus that of some ethnic subgroups of other races.

    1. Most Asians support Affirmative Action accoring to most polls I’ve seen. Among Republican-voting Asians, this isn’t the case but Asians like Razib are a clear minority.

  3. It is amazing how Americans see national-level competitive exams as skewing opportunity away from the under-privileged.

    In India (also France – which is the European country big on prépas for the grandes écoles) comp exams are traditionally seen as the great leveller. Esp maths education, which became a symbol of equality in post Revolution France and all the major French école polytechniques were founded in that era.

    The view of best unis being elitist is more of a British thing, which seems to have seeped into popular American culture?

    1. Slapstik, couldn’t agree more. Standardized tests, particularly in math, don’t require a great deal of resources to prepare for. If anything, needing to pay tuition to a four year uni to the exclusion of earning is the elitist paradigm.

  4. “One thing to note: well-off white New Yorkers send their kids to exclusive private schools like Dalton.”

    “Pricey private schools to teach Black Lives Matter classes” by Kerry Picket, Senior Campaign Reporter | July 13, 2020
    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/pricey-private-schools-to-teach-black-lives-matter-classes

    * * *
    “Not everyone associated or formerly associated with these schools is pleased. Billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson excoriated the Manhattan school, Spence, in a 2017 letter for what he called an “alarming pattern” of “anti-white indoctrination” in its curriculum, the New York Post reported.

    “In recent years we have reached out on several occasions to discuss a disturbing trend in one area of the curriculum that we believe is having a negative impact on our daughters’ education. As we’ve noted before, there appears to be an anti-white indoctrination that permeates many parts of the Spence curriculum,” Paulson wrote.

    “One recent alum of St. George’s School pondered how valuable the anti-racism programs really are.

    “They are telling parents to spend $50K a year so their kids can be taught to hate them,” the alumnus told the Washington Examiner.

    “The Fieldston School in Riverdale, New York, previously implemented anti-racism initiatives through their Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Department. By last February, the New York Post reported, angry parents were trying to pull their kids out of the school.

    “Donors refused to give money frustrated teachers were quitting after accusations the school environment had become filled with “rampant, systemic anti-Semitism” and was fixated over identity politics.

    “I’ve fought for LGBT issues,” one Fieldston parent said, “but this is indicative of the weird things happening around the school which are rooted around intersectionality and an obsession about identity politics and race.”

  5. Standardised testing is essential, but it is possible to overdo it. The central problem for policymakers in urban elite areas like NYC is that a greater and greater share of the top students are Asians. This means that, logically speaking, a smaller and smaller share of brown/black students should get into the best schools.

    How do they square this circle? It should be obvious by now. Declare war on standardised testing. University of California has already begun this process. The ‘white privilege’ rhetoric will migrate to Asians, as we’re already seeing.

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