Thursday, December 27, 2007

H.S. Diploma in 1970 = 2+ Years of College Today

From the article: "More Grads, But Cognitive Ability Declines: Degrees and diplomas may not translate to on-the-job success," in a recent edition of InsideRecruiting, a recruiting industry trade publication:

The good news: recruiters should see an increase in applicants with college degrees and high school diplomas; the bad news is that those applicants might not succeed on the job. A study conducted by Wonderlic, Inc. reveals a steady decline in the cognitive ability scores associated with specific education levels.

From Wonderlic's press release about its study:

The explanation for this downward trend in cognitive ability by level of education is that more people with modest ability are remaining in school and graduating,” said Michael Callans, President of Wonderlic Consulting. “While remaining in school has obvious personal and societal benefits, it also impacts the relative meaning of a high school and college degree for employers.”

The study suggests that because the ability level of the average high school graduate has changed over time, finding job candidates with the same level of ability as 1970 high school graduates requires employers seek out applicants with two or more years of college training.

MP: Hey, but aren't grades (and self-esteem) at an all-time high in both high school and college?

(HT: Jeff Perry)


At 12/27/2007 2:59 PM, Blogger Bruce Charlton said...

This is understandable in terms of the arguments used in Herrnstein and Murray's The Bell Curve.

Through most of the twentieth century the proportion of school leavers attending college grew, but at the same time college became more meritocratic and almost all high IQ people began to go to college.

So for many decades the average IQ of college graduates remained pretty much the same (about 1 standard deviation above average) - even though there were manyfold more graduates - because high IQ people who would in 1900 have been farmers, craftsmen and housewives progressively began to attend college.

Then colleges became increasingly IQ (SAT) stratified until at present the most selective US colleges have average IQs about 3 SDs above average while others are completely non-selective.

So we are now past the point where expansion of college education can only happen by taking people of lower and lower IQ - including people with an IQ of below 100.

Since IQ is the best predictor of employment success (since it measures speed of learning, and rational thinking ability) this means that *average* college graduates must have lower and lower IQ (and on average lower and lower on the job performance). Probably this is the phenomenon being described.

The lowering average performance of college graduates is compatible with a rising average performance in the population as a whole (since going to college may well benefit people in terms of their job performance.)


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