Thanks to a classmate’s research for the 50th high school reunion, Blowhards’ Donald Pittenger is able to compare classmates with high grades vs. high test scores. The report gave information on the 11 students with the highest grade averages and the 13 Merit Scholarship finalists in the 1957 graduating class of 650 to 700 at Seattle’s Roosevelt High.
* The overlap between the two groups was three people.
* Seven of the 11 high-GPA people were female.
* Ten of the 13 Merit Scholarship finalists were male.
* Only one high-GPA student received a doctorate.
* Five Merit Scholarship finalists got Ph.D. degrees.
* The one high-GPA Ph.D. was also a Merit Scholarship finalist.
* All in the high-GPA group graduated from college, but only five earned higher degrees (MA, MS, JD, etc.).
* Five of the Merit Scholarship finalists completed their educations at the bachelors level.
* One Merit Scholarship finalist did not graduate from college. He dropped out of Cal Tech to become a successful professional bridge player.
So the mostly male high-scoring group went farther in college than the mostly female high-grades group.
It’s hard to tell how much of the difference was due to the limited opportunities and expectations for women in that era.
I was one of 32 National Merit finalists in my class of 500+ at Highland Park High in Illinois. (We had more Merit finalists than any public high school in the country that year.) I ranked 16th in the class based on GPA. I earned a BA in English and Creative Writing, got a job and think I’ve done fine.
A few of the Merit finalists were not top students in terms of grades, but there was a lot of overlap.