kitchen table math, the sequel: SAT story & apologies for the disappearing act

Sunday, November 20, 2011

SAT story & apologies for the disappearing act

Wanted to say quickly that I've got at least 4 meaty emails waiting for me, which I'm not getting to because they're vying for attention with a stack of student papers and so far the student papers are winning.

Hoping to get to emails later today!

I shouldn't be writing posts, either, but I had to pass this along.

C. just came into the kitchen and told me this story.

One of the math kids in his class, a kid so good at math that the calculus teacher (this would be the calculus teacher whose class C. has dropped) told him he could "sleep through every class" and get an A, got a 650 on SAT math.


I say that's a benchmark. A gifted math student who takes the SAT cold gets 650.

C. said, "He doesn't care about the SAT. He's going to X University no matter what."

His folks have free tuition at X U.

update: The last two lines above are ironic.


gasstationwithoutpumps said...

I think that the key point here was "he doesn't care about the SAT"—it has nothing to do with prep or the lack of it nor the giftedness of the student. A student who doesn't care is less likely to take the trouble during the exam to do a good job.

I assume that X U has low enough standards that he'll get in—free tuition is not much of a deal if the student is rejected.

Catherine Johnson said...

This student is mathematically gifted.

A very, very talented kid.

He took the test and answered the questions, which are or should be trivially easy for a mathematically gifted high school senior.

(Right? If I'm wrong about that, let me know.)

**The content covered is far below his level.**

fyi: I've recently learned that the '1%' here in NY are spending as much as $84K for one year of private SAT test prep. These kids have also attended private schools, where math teaching **may** be somewhat better.

Kids whose parents **don't** spend $84K for test prep are up against kids whose parents **do** spend $84 K for test prep. That's the situation. Then add in the likely existence of "systematic cheating" from China, and what you are NOT looking at is a "standards-based" test.

You're looking at a video game & an arms race.

Catherine Johnson said...


This sentence -- "C. says , 'He doesn't care about the SAT...." -- is **ironic.**

It has 2 levels of meaning.

On the literal level, this sentence is factually true: C. did in fact say what I've told you he said.

On a second level, I, the writer and the parent, am commenting on C's statement, which, I'm quite certain is not true.

C. attends a Jesuit all-boys high school, where machismo is expressed in the form of Not caring about SAT scores, Not doing summer assignments until the night before school starts, etc.

Or, more accurately, machismo is expressed in the form of Not Admitting you care about SAT scores and Not Admitting that you did your summer assignments during the summer.

If this kid doesn't get into X U, he and his parents are going to be devastated.

Catherine Johnson said...

I don't know this boy (though I've talked to his dad a few times, so I have a sense of the family).

I can imagine a mathematically gifted student taking the test without realizing how 'hard' it is in terms of pacing, strategy, etc.

When I was a kid, I waltzed into the SAT after a night of having fun with friends, assuming the test would be a breeze. I took it without my 'full' mind on it.

When my verbal score came back in the low 600s, I was shocked!

I took it again, and this time I paid attention to what I was doing. My score went up 100 points.

For years, I've been hearing people say that you can't raise scores on the SAT appreciably -- but a 100-point gain on reading is pretty darn appreciable.

Anyway, I can easily imagine a mathematically gifted student thinking he can sleep-walk through SAT math and get a 700-800.


Catherine Johnson said...

On a second level, I, the writer and the parent, am commenting on C's statement, which, I'm quite certain is not true.

I have no idea what that comma is doing after the "which."