The Rich Get Richer

Over the last two decades the bottom 90 percent of the economy has lost ground while the richest 1 percent captured 70 percent of the income growth. Yes, 70 percent. To achieve this, every major policy – taxes, investment, monetary, trade, finance, regulation – had to be fixed to favor the few.

Even educational policies.

This fable tells the story:

A group of pioneering Americans wanted a way they could, through children, identify their parents SES (social-economic status). Absurd, yes?  But several enterprising companies decided to try to do it. Like ETS, MacMillan, McGraw-Hill etc. At first they called them IQ tests, and then over time they renamed them achievement tests.

And lo and behold they found that they could develop test items that precisely differentiated children by their families net worth.  And they could do this while simultaneously providing test items and alternative answers that were more or less within the domain being tested.  There would be some measurement error, of course.  But probably considerably less than if they sent home a form asking parents to provide this information.

Yes, that is what we have.  It is an amazing feat.

And in yearly pre-tests they make sure that the items continue to fall in the same pre-determined way, providing the same information about SES (and thus sorting the children as early as 4 and 5 years old, into their proper slots).