Are students really worse now than years ago?

That issue has the education blogging sphere in a buzz.

Compared with the students in the 1970s, today’s students are uneducated and unfit for a college education.

Before proceeding, let me enunciate two premises. First, I do not think there is any significant difference between the two groups in terms of native, raw intelligence. Instead, the distinction between yesterday’s and today’s students when they first set foot on college campuses rests in their educational backgrounds, analytical thinking, quantitative skills, reading abilities, willingness to work, and their attitudes concerning the educational process. In short, they differ in terms of their readiness for college. Second, I am focusing on the average student who majors in accounting. Both groups arise from a distribution of students. The lower tail of yesteryear’s population had some weak students, and the upper tail of the present-day population has some very strong students; however, when one focuses on the means of these two distributions, he or she finds a huge gap.

It’s an interesting read.

Right Wing Nation talks about it and has the Chronicle of Higher Ed survey in there too. That might convince you, if the first article’s discussion of the fact that a ninth grade reading level is too high for college textbooks didn’t. (Ouch.)

Critical Mass talks about issues with “the way we were.”

No need to invoke the past, after all. Just talk about the now. Instead of saying we aren’t educating as well as we used to, just argue that we aren’t educating as well as we need to. That’s demonstrably true, and it focusses us on the present and the future it will create in important ways.

Still, it’s interesting all the same to encounter the rare college professor who has been around long enough to be able to make some strong qualitative–and eminently quantifiable–claims about how the students of today compare to those of yesteryear.

The biggest issue in the article, which is an op ed piece, though, is that students aren’t willing to work. That is a problem.

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