I couldn't have said it better than Rac has done. smile

Let's also recall that those perfect/near perfect academic scores? Um-- they don't mean what they USED to mean, before the era of massive grade inflation, gaming the system for accommodations (I'm not talking about needed accommodations for kids who are 2e, I'm talking about those that are "shopped" for-- and yeah, this IS a thing), and superscoring, tutoring FOR superscoring (another thing now is taking the ACT for a particular SECTION, and planning to "not worry about" the other sections ON THE DAY); all of those things are VASTLY enabled by high SES-- and nearly insurmountable barriers for those who are poor or even lower-middle-class.

Are students "dumber?" No-- but they've been more poorly educated, I think. Fewer of them are capable (or desirous) of deep understanding-- tangents in class are often met with derision and a query about what will be on "the assessment" now, even in honors or AP offerings. It's actually rather sad for those few students who ARE genuinely interested-- and teachers can definitely spot them a mile away. I personally think this is why even DD's lackluster enthusiasm for classes like US History met with instructor delight and approval, and spontaneous encouragement to pursue it in college, since this was obviously a passion-- only, just as clearly (to us) this was nothing of the kind. This is just what a genuinely ENGAGED student looks like. Teachers don't see as many of them now. That's obvious.

Now, those box-checking "perfect" students often slightly outperform even kids like my DD; but-- not on open-ended tasks, and there is no comparing the two things when you actually observe them aside from their resumes. The trouble is that elite institutions have driven DEMAND to such a degree that they have literally NO hope of actually doing that with thousands upon thousands of applications each year.

In short-- yes, look carefully. The Ivies may not be "all that" for all students-- nor, for that matter, even for the best and brightest ones.

I'm going to share some links that relate to some of these same issues.

Ivy Leaguers twice as likely to use study drugs, half as likely to regard it as cheating

Who Needs Harvard?-- Slate article on hiring at Fortune 100 companies

Legacy Admissions advantage-- Chronicle of Higher Ed

Educational Outcomes Op-Ed from Brookings Institute

From the latter:

Originally Posted by Easterbrook's Brookings Institute piece
Krueger and Dale studied what happened to students who were accepted at an Ivy or a similar institution, but chose instead to attend a less sexy, "moderately selective" school. It turned out that such students had, on average, the same income twenty years later as graduates of the elite colleges. Krueger and Dale found that for students bright enough to win admission to a top school, later income "varied little, no matter which type of college they attended." In other words, the student, not the school, was responsible for the success.

Emphasis mine. This is not the last such study to have demonstrated this effect. Consider, also, how much CRAZIER admissions mania has become in the decade since that Brookings Institute op-ed was published. frown In 2004, Common App was in its infancy, super-scoring was new (and almost unheard of with the ACT, at any rate), it was only the first year after the end to the so-called "scarlet" asterisk (flagging non-standard testing of PSAT, ACT, SAT, and AP-- the results of destigmatization have been, er-- mixed, at best-- namely, those of highest SES clearly have benefited most from their ability to gain access to accommodations that are arduous and expensive to obtain-- more on that below*) and only a few private high schools were pushing all-test-prep-all-the-time, particularly with AP coursework.

Parents and students alike are fixated (now) on The Very Best School-- er, or they THINK that they are, anyway. What they actually seem to have bought into is the notion (which I maintain is largely a matter of marketing) that those schools in highest DEMAND are the ones that are most prestigious, and therefore also The Very Best.

From College Board's Own (much-criticized) study of timing accommodations from 2005

Extra time seemed to affect the math sections of the
SAT more than the verbal sections. For students without
disabilities, the best performance was achieved under the
1.5-time condition with section breaks, and the lowest
with standard time. These findings held for high- and
medium-ability examinees.

The 1.5-time condition with section breaks also
proved most beneficial for the verbal sections of the test
for all ability groups, but the effects were not as great as
for the math sections.

This study provides evidence of three major findings:
• Lower-ability test-takers gain little or no benefit from
extra time. If students do not have the knowledge or skills,
no amount of extra time will improve performance.
• Section breaks appear to help test-takers at different
ability levels, regardless of their disability status.
• Extra time helps medium- and high-ability test-takers
with and without disabilities. Extra time, however,
does not help and actually may hinder low-ability
students with disabilities.

In other words, MOST high-ability test takers could use the extra time. That effect was so robust that even CB's own data collection/analysis was not able to ignore it. One would have to be incredibly naive to think that families that have no problem communicating to their children that performance-enhancing (illicit/prescription) drugs are "fine" as a method to better academic results would then have qualms over gaming the SAT accommodations game. The numbers certainly argue otherwise, unless one actually believes that only high-income WHITE children happen to have disproportionate numbers of learning disabilities... or that maybe living in a high SES causes LD's. As testing agencies like College Board have clamped down on those abusing the system, though, they've unfortunately made it even harder on those that DO need the accommodations but can't really afford to jump through all of the (new) hoops. frown The upshot is that this game has some REAL consequences at the median and low ends-- kids of modest ability (and SES) who also have LD's and could use accommodations in order to show mid-level colleges what they can do.

Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.