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# For the last decade, public policy makers and education specialists

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Intern
Joined: 13 Jan 2018
Posts: 30
Location: India
Concentration: Operations, Strategy
GMAT 1: 530 Q46 V17
GMAT 2: 640 Q49 V28

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Updated on: 09 Oct 2019, 21:26
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New Project RC Butler 2019 - Practice 2 RC Passages Everyday
Passage # 320, Date : 09-Sep-2019
This post is a part of New Project RC Butler 2019. Click here for Details

For the last decade, public policy makers and education specialists have been debating the future of America’s public school system. Little headway has been made in solving our public schools’ problems, partly because those seeking to fix the school system have started with a grievously false assumption: that our public schools were in fact better at one time than they are now.

Those who assert that schools did a better job of teaching in the past rely mostly on anecdotal evidence. These critics base their argument on rumored surveys of current students who can’t find the nation’s capital on a map and hazy recollections of “how much harder they worked in school than children do today.” To be sure, these critics do produce some empirical evidence, mostly in the form of lower standardized test scores.

However, most empirical evidence indicates that our public schools are doing a better job today than they ever have. Before 1940, the mythical halcyon period of public schools, the average American did not graduate from high school; today, well over two-thirds do. One-fifth of the school-age population left school after four years; in the South, less than one-fifth were in school at all.

Today, many more students graduate high school, and many more pass academically demanding courses. This explains why standardized test scores have declined — today’s more diverse student body cannot compete with the smaller elite that completed high school in the past.

This is not to say that our public schools do not need fixing. They do, and that need is urgent, but not because the schools have fallen from some previous level of near-perfection. To the contrary, it is because our schools have never provided the intellectually challenging education that our children deserve and that our country needs to prosper. If the nation is to employ Americans and keep its wealth from drifting across our borders, we must prepare Americans to compete in the intellectual and technical markets. Those who would return our public school system to its “glory days” in fact wish a return to a time that never was.

Spoiler: :: OE
This is a retrieval question, as evidenced by the words According to the passage in the question stem. The subject of this question is the typical school-aged American [before 1940]. The task of the question is to determine what the author said about these students. In order to answer the question, determine what the passage states about the subject and evaluate the answer choices, eliminating any choice that cannot be supported by the text. According to the passage, Before 1940…the average American did not graduate from high school.

Choice A: No. This answer may seem appealing because the passage mentions that in the South, less than one-fifth were in school. The word South is a memory trap. It cannot be determined from the information as stated in the passage that the typical school-aged American was living in the Northeast. Eliminate A.

Choice B: No. The recycled language standardized tests may make this choice seem appealing. However, this choice is a reversal. The passage states that the average American did not graduate from high school. If the average American didn’t graduate high school, then he or she wasn’t attending a competitive university. Eliminate B.

Choice C: No. Claiming that they were pursuing a curriculum of vocation-related courses may be tempting, but would require outside knowledge. The passage doesn’t state which types of courses the students were taking. Eliminate C.

Choice D: Correct. This choice is supported by the passage. The author states that the average American did not graduate from high school, so they left before earning a high school diploma.

Choice E: No. This may be tempting because the passage contains the phrase intellectual and technical job markets. However, this is recycled language. When the author states that we must prepare Americans to compete in the intellectual and technical markets, he is providing advice for today’s students, not what was true for students before 1940. Eliminate E.

The correct answer is choice D.

1. According to the passage, before 1940 the typical school-aged American would most likely be

A. living in the Northeastern region of the country
B. scoring sufficiently well on standardized tests to gain entry to the nation's most competitive universities
C. pursuing a curriculum of vocation-related courses
D. leaving school before earning a high school diploma
E. preparing for a career in the intellectual and technical job markets

Spoiler: :: OE
This is a retrieval question, as evidenced by the words cited by the author in the question stem. The subject of this question is evidence countering public schools' critics' arguments. The task of the question is to identify the evidence that counters the critics. The question asks for which one is NOT cited. In order to answer the question, determine what the passage states about the subject and evaluate the answer choices, eliminating any choice which ARE supported by the text and choosing the one that is NOT supported. According to the passage, Before 1940, the mythical halcyon period of public schools, the average American did not graduate from high school; today, well over two-thirds do. One-fifth of the school-age population left school after four years; in the South, less than one-fifth were in school at all.

Today, many more students graduate high school, and many more pass academically demanding courses. This explains why standardized test scores have declined — today’s more diverse student body cannot compete with the smaller elite that completed high school in the past.

Choice A: Correct. This choice is NOT supported by the passage, which makes it the correct answer. Although students today are more active in extracurricular activities may feel true in real life, this answer contains outside knowledge. The author only discusses academics, not extracurricular activities.

Choice B: No. This answer is supported by the passage. According to the passage, Today, many more students graduate high school, and many more pass academically demanding courses. Eliminate B.

Choice C: No. This answer is supported by the passage. According to the passage, Before 1940 … the average American did not graduate from high school; today, well over two-thirds do. Eliminate C.

Choice D: No. This answer is supported by the passage. According to the passage, Before 1940 … the average American did not graduate from high school; today, well over two-thirds do. Eliminate D.

Choice E: No. This answer is supported by the passage. According to the passage, Before 1940 … the average American did not graduate from high school. Eliminate E.

The correct answer is choice A.

2. Which of the following facts is NOT cited by the author as evidence countering public schools' critics' arguments?

A. Public school students today are more active in extracurricular activities than were their counterparts prior to 1940.
B. High-level academic courses are more readily available to students today than they were prior to 1940.
C. A larger percentage of students now remain in high school than did their counterparts prior to 1940.
D.More than half of American school-aged students today graduate from high school.
E. Prior to 1940, less than half of the nation's children graduated from high school.

Spoiler: :: OE
This is an inference question, as evidenced by the words Which of the following can be inferred in the question stem. The subject of this question is the author's opinion of the surveys mentioned in the second paragraph. The task of the question is to determine the author’s attitude towards these surveys. In order to answer the question, determine what the passage states about the subject and evaluate the answer choices, eliminating any choice which cannot be supported by the text. According to the passage, critics base their argument on rumored surveys.

Choice A: No. The phrase studied more demanding curricula than do students today may make the choice appealing, but it’s a memory trap. Although the author quotes the critic as saying “how much harder they worked in school than children do today.” That is not the same thing as studying a more demanding curricula. Also, it’s a reversal as the author later states Today…many more pass academically demanding courses. Eliminate A.

Choice B: No. The phrase surveys have been misrepresented may make this choice seem appealing, but it’s a memory trap. While the author is dubious of the critics’ claims and evidence, the author doesn’t say anything about the survey administrators. Eliminate B.

Choice C: Correct. This choice is supported by the passage. The author qualifies the surveys as rumored, indicating that they may or may not have been taken. The author then states However, most empirical evidence indicates that our public schools are doing a better job today than they ever have, indicating that the surveys’ results are not conclusive.

Choice D: No. The phrase organizations hostile to the current public school program may make this choice seem tempting, but it’s a memory trap. The passage states that These critics base their argument on rumored surveys, but that doesn’t mean that the critics actually administered the surveys, just that they cite the results. Eliminate D.

Choice E: No. The phrase were never taken is extreme language. The author calls the surveys rumored, but doesn’t explicitly state that they were never taken. Eliminate E.

The correct answer is choice C.

3. Which of the following can be inferred about the author's opinion of the surveys mentioned in the second paragraph?

A. The surveys indicated that students in the years before 1940 studied more demanding curricula than do students today.
B. The surveys were taken, but the results of those surveys have been misrepresented by the survey administrators.
C. The surveys may or may not have been taken; regardless, their results are not conclusive.
D. The surveys were administered by organizations hostile to the current public school program.
E. The surveys were never taken.

Spoiler: :: OE
This is an inference question, as evidenced by the words The author implies that in the question stem. The subjects of this question are all Americans graduating from high school now and students who graduated before 1940. The task of the question is to determine what would be true if the graduation percentages were the same, at pre-1940’s levels. In order to answer the question, determine what the passage states about the subject and evaluate the answer choices, eliminating any choice which cannot be supported by the text. According to the passage, Today, many more students graduate high school, and many more pass academically demanding courses. This explains why standardized test scores have declined — today’s more diverse student body cannot compete with the smaller elite that completed high school in the past.

Choice A: Correct. This choice is supported by the passage. The passage states that today’s test scores have declined because Today, many more students graduate high school and they cannot compete with the smaller elite that completed high school in the past. The author is implying that if today’s less-elite students were to drop out of school, the average test scores would be more on par with those from before 1940. Keep choice A.

Choice B: No. This choice relies on outside knowledge. The passage doesn’t state whether the students would be enrolled primarily in pre-vocational curricula. Eliminate B.

Choice C: No. The phrase one-fifth of all school-aged students in the South may make this choice appealing, but it’s a memory trap. The passage states that before 1940, in the South, less than one-fifth were in school at all. However, the question asks about all Americans graduating from high school. Therefore, this comparison cannot be made. Eliminate C.

Choice D: No. The phrase train students to compete in the global economy may make this choice tempting, but it’s a reversal. The passage states that If the nation is to employ Americans and keep its wealth from drifting across our borders, we must prepare Americans to compete in the intellectual and technical markets. This implies that the author believes we would need to train Americans. Eliminate D.

Choice E: No. The phrase more…intellectually diverse may make this choice tempting, but it’s a reversal. The passages states that today’s more diverse student body cannot compete with the smaller elite that completed high school in the past. Note, the author categorizes today’s student body as more diverse which suggests that the student body was less diverse in 1940. Eliminate E.

The correct answer is choice A.

4. The author implies that if the percentage of all Americans graduating from high school now were the same as that for students who graduated before 1940

A. the current group's average scores on standardized tests would be at least as high as those of their predecessors
B. the current students would be enrolled primarily in pre-vocational curricula
C. only one-fifth of all school-aged students in the South would currently be attending school
D. the United States would not need to train students to compete in the global economy
E. the current group would be more demographically and intellectually diverse as a result

Originally posted by srij13 on 09 Sep 2019, 00:03.
Last edited by SajjadAhmad on 09 Oct 2019, 21:26, edited 2 times in total.
Updated - Complete topic (891).
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Re: For the last decade, public policy makers and education specialists  [#permalink]

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09 Sep 2019, 06:53
+1 Kudos to posts containing answer explanation of all questions
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Re: For the last decade, public policy makers and education specialists  [#permalink]

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01 Oct 2019, 08:54
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Re: For the last decade, public policy makers and education specialists  [#permalink]

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01 Oct 2019, 08:58
Alpha14 wrote:

Question #1: 550
Question #2: 500
Question #3: 650
Question #4: 700

Overall: 600
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Re: For the last decade, public policy makers and education specialists  [#permalink]

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09 Oct 2019, 20:39
Hi,

Can anyone tell for Question 4 why A is an answer.
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Re: For the last decade, public policy makers and education specialists  [#permalink]

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09 Oct 2019, 21:25
anc wrote:
Hi,

Can anyone tell for Question 4 why A is an answer.

Official Explanation

4. The author implies that if the percentage of all Americans graduating from high school now were the same as that for students who graduated before 1940

Difficulty Level: 700

This is an inference question, as evidenced by the words The author implies that in the question stem. The subjects of this question are all Americans graduating from high school now and students who graduated before 1940. The task of the question is to determine what would be true if the graduation percentages were the same, at pre-1940’s levels. In order to answer the question, determine what the passage states about the subject and evaluate the answer choices, eliminating any choice which cannot be supported by the text. According to the passage, Today, many more students graduate high school, and many more pass academically demanding courses. This explains why standardized test scores have declined — today’s more diverse student body cannot compete with the smaller elite that completed high school in the past.

Choice A: Correct. This choice is supported by the passage. The passage states that today’s test scores have declined because Today, many more students graduate high school and they cannot compete with the smaller elite that completed high school in the past. The author is implying that if today’s less-elite students were to drop out of school, the average test scores would be more on par with those from before 1940. Keep choice A.

Choice B: No. This choice relies on outside knowledge. The passage doesn’t state whether the students would be enrolled primarily in pre-vocational curricula. Eliminate B.

Choice C: No. The phrase one-fifth of all school-aged students in the South may make this choice appealing, but it’s a memory trap. The passage states that before 1940, in the South, less than one-fifth were in school at all. However, the question asks about all Americans graduating from high school. Therefore, this comparison cannot be made. Eliminate C.

Choice D: No. The phrase train students to compete in the global economy may make this choice tempting, but it’s a reversal. The passage states that If the nation is to employ Americans and keep its wealth from drifting across our borders, we must prepare Americans to compete in the intellectual and technical markets. This implies that the author believes we would need to train Americans. Eliminate D.

Choice E: No. The phrase more…intellectually diverse may make this choice tempting, but it’s a reversal. The passages states that today’s more diverse student body cannot compete with the smaller elite that completed high school in the past. Note, the author categorizes today’s student body as more diverse which suggests that the student body was less diverse in 1940. Eliminate E.

The correct answer is choice A.

Hope it helps
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Re: For the last decade, public policy makers and education specialists   [#permalink] 09 Oct 2019, 21:25