SAT scores haven’t changed for two years in a row now. The class of ’08 averaged 502 in reading, 494 in writing and 515 in math.

The longer, three-part SAT seems to be driving some test-takers away; more students are taking the rival ACT, which saw a slight decline in scores this year from 21.2 in 2007 to 21.1.

On the SAT, boys outperform girls in math (533 vs. 500) and reading (504 vs. 500), but do worse in writing (488 vs. 501). Girls are more likely to take the SAT than boys.

Racial/ethnic gaps are quite large:

Black students on average scored 430 in critical reading and 426 in math; the averages for Latino students were 455 and 461; and those for white students were 528 and 537. Asian-American students, on average, scored 513 in reading and 581 in math.

Walter Williams asks: Is college worth it? About 55 percent of students who start college eventually earn a degree; that drops to 24 percent for those who were in the bottom 40 percent of their high school class.

Those who graduate may not be well-educated.

According to a 2006 Pew Charitable Trusts study, 50 percent of college seniors failed a test that required them to interpret a table about exercise and blood pressure, understand the arguments of newspaper editorials, and compare credit card offers. About 20 percent of college seniors did not have the quantitative skills to estimate if their car had enough gas to get to the gas station.

That will be a problem for those who end up driving cabs.

College costs have risen at double the inflation rate, reports Money magazine. Wages aren’t keeping up. At some point, the degree — especially the private-college degree — isn’t going to be worth it.

College costs are rising

four times fasterthan the inflation rate.From the Money article:

For more than two decades, colleges and universities across the country have been jacking up tuition at a faster rate than costs have risen on any other major product or service –four times faster than the overall inflation rateand faster even than increases in the price of gasoline or health care (see the chart to the right).The chart shows college costs rose 439% over 10 years, while the CPI rose 108% over the same time.

Their headline makes the â€œtwice as fast as inflation claimâ€, which doesnâ€™t seem to be supported by the numbers.

About 20 percent of college seniors did not have the quantitative skills to estimate if their car had enough gas to get to the gas station.When you figure that college seniors are elite, in some since, then the numbers for the overall adult population are almost certainly worse, possibly much worse. Somewhere around a fourth to a third of our fellow citizens are officially dumbasses.

Dumbasses, of course, with full civil rights, including the right to vote. We’re doomed.

Exponential growth can be misleading.

The Money Magazine chart goes from 1982 to 2005, so we have a 23 year span.

Inflation was up 108% in that time, so up by a factor of 2.08.

The 23rd root of 2.08 is 1.03, so 3% annualized inflation over those 23 years.

Education costs were up 439% in that time, so up by a factor of 5.39.

The 23rd root of 5.39 is 1.07, so 7% annualized increase in education costs over the 23 years.

I don’t have a problem with a headline that claims that 7% is twice 3%, especially given that there is some uncertainty in the numbers we are dealing with.

Part of the problem is that even small increases (hey, education is only going up 4% more per year than general inflation) add up if the increases are compounding.

-Mark Roulo