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Sun Apr 15, 2012, 02:48 AM

 

Standardized testing originated in the eugenics movement

As Wayne Au explains in his book, Unequal By Design, standardized testing entered the public schools in the early 1900s as a way to graft scientific management models used in assembly line production onto the classroom by Taylorists and eugenicists—the pseudo scientists that believed intelligence is genetic and that whites were biologically superior to other races or ethnic groups. Au writes,

“Looking back to its origins in the eugenics movement, Standardized testing provided the technological apparatus for the functioning of the production model of education….It is no coincidence that I.Q testing, eugenics and standardized testing all become prominent during the same period....”

The point I made to the Gates foundation policy wonks was this: While they claim to be part of a 21st century civil rights movement for education—advocating policies they insist are specifically designed to close the achievement gap—the standardized tests they demand were designed by racist pseudo-scientists of the early 20th century...

The SAT exam, for example, was developed by Carl Bringham—the Army psychologist and racist eugenicist who used WWI data to declare that whites born inside the United States were the most intelligent of all peoples and that immigrants were genetically inferior. Contrary to the assertions of corporate education reformers who claim to be crusaders against the status quo in education, there is nothing innovative about advocacy for standardized testing; it is merely the repackaging of eugenics for the “post racial” era where it is passé to espouse racist ideas. Sadly, American society today—from the prisons to the schools—is dominated by institutional racism. The purpose of standardized tests are the same as they were then: to categorize, sort, and rank black students, students of color, and working class kids at the bottom, while demonstrating the intellectual superiority of the wealthy and white students who score better on the tests. However, that white students score better on the tests is not a comment on their superior aptitude to students of color and low-income students, but rather of their advantages—private tutoring, books in the home, parents with more time to read to their kids, coming to school healthy and more focused, and tests that are created to reflect the values and norms of an affluent, white society.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/03/13-4



47 replies, 5119 views

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Arrow 47 replies Author Time Post
Reply Standardized testing originated in the eugenics movement (Original post)
HiPointDem Apr 2012 OP
Kurska Apr 2012 #1
TheWraith Apr 2012 #2
Union Scribe Apr 2012 #3
TheWraith Apr 2012 #4
HiPointDem Apr 2012 #8
TheWraith Apr 2012 #34
HiPointDem Apr 2012 #36
Posteritatis Apr 2012 #32
unc70 Apr 2012 #5
HiPointDem Apr 2012 #6
unc70 Apr 2012 #17
HiPointDem Apr 2012 #19
unc70 Apr 2012 #24
HiPointDem Apr 2012 #25
unc70 Apr 2012 #28
HiPointDem Apr 2012 #29
unc70 Apr 2012 #45
Posteritatis Apr 2012 #31
SwampG8r Apr 2012 #7
quaker bill Apr 2012 #11
Noodleboy13 Apr 2012 #35
SwampG8r Apr 2012 #44
proud2BlibKansan Apr 2012 #9
Starry Messenger Apr 2012 #10
exboyfil Apr 2012 #12
obamanut2012 Apr 2012 #13
exboyfil Apr 2012 #15
aikoaiko Apr 2012 #14
proud2BlibKansan Apr 2012 #16
Honeycombe8 Apr 2012 #38
proud2BlibKansan Apr 2012 #39
Snake Alchemist Apr 2012 #18
Tom Ripley Apr 2012 #20
Quantess Apr 2012 #21
Tom Ripley Apr 2012 #22
Quantess Apr 2012 #23
HiPointDem Apr 2012 #30
HiPointDem Apr 2012 #27
Quantess Apr 2012 #33
LadyHawkAZ Apr 2012 #26
Honeycombe8 Apr 2012 #37
proud2BlibKansan Apr 2012 #40
Honeycombe8 Apr 2012 #46
proud2BlibKansan Apr 2012 #41
4th law of robotics Apr 2012 #42
proud2BlibKansan Apr 2012 #43
Honeycombe8 Apr 2012 #47

Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 02:55 AM

1. Eugentists also wore clothes and ate food, should we stop that too?

Standardized tests like I.Q are useful in science, it doesn't matter where it came from. Science is objective, "tainted" sources mean nothing to it. Data is data, tools are tools.

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Response to Kurska (Reply #1)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 03:20 AM

2. +1.

You know who else ate vegetables? HITLER!

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Response to Kurska (Reply #1)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 03:25 AM

3. And when a "tool" begins life for the specific

purpose of serving a racist, classist ideology, that's no problem for you? It's a wee bit different from wearing clothes and eating food, despite your attempt to dismiss it as harmless. People have talked about the dubious worth of such testing for a good long while, and it's interesting to see where it came from.

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Response to Union Scribe (Reply #3)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 03:32 AM

4. The first serious anti-smoking campaigns were created by the Nazis.

What you're describing is called the genetic fallacy: in short, that you're dismissing something because of its point of origin rather than based on objective assessment of its merits. It's basically the same argument as saying "anti-smoking originated with the Nazis, therefore anti-smoking campaigns are evil."

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Response to TheWraith (Reply #4)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 04:41 AM

8. Testing was used by eugenicists to rank & categorize populations in order to distribute benefit and

 

punishment.

It is used precisely the same way today.

Thus, no fallacy.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #8)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 05:56 PM

34. You don't seem to understand the concept of the genetic fallacy.

Because literally applied, it means that your reasoning here is wrong.

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Response to TheWraith (Reply #34)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 07:56 PM

36. You don't seem to understand my reasoning. It has nothing to do with the genetic fallacy.

 

"The genetic fallacy is a fallacy of irrelevance where a conclusion is suggested based solely on something or someone's origin rather than its current meaning or context. "

My reasoning is not that standardized testing is bad *solely because* of eugenic origins, but because it still serves eugenic purposes.

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Response to Union Scribe (Reply #3)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 05:20 AM

32. I prefer to criticise ST because it sucks, not because I like the genetic fallacy. (nt)

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 03:48 AM

5. This is an overly simplistic and distorted "history"

It ignores all the other aspects of tests and testing, including the primary motivations for the College Boards, aka SAT.

I don't have the energy to correct your myopic understanding of psychometrics, models of human thought, etc. The SATs were more about who got into elite colleges than in eugenics.

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Response to unc70 (Reply #5)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 04:04 AM

6. and "who gets into elite colleges" has no relation to the eugenics movement?

 

all these measurements are about the maintenance of inequality & control of the masses. what was once enforced through overt violence is now enforced through "science".

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #6)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 02:42 PM

17. No, the tests are not some ploy to maintain control

For some reason, you are letting your anger get in the way of learning anything. (Maybe it's just the risks of really late Saturday night posting. Probably true for me.)

BTW Nearly every method for collecting and analyzing population data goes back to Thurstone, et al. Surveys, polling, normalized results, validity, reliability, robustness, descriptive statistics, multivariate, MDS, conjoint, game theory, experimental design, etc.

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Response to unc70 (Reply #17)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 02:58 PM

19. Of course they are. The impulse to sort, categorize and rank human beings for the purpose of

 

administering benefit or punishment is always an impulse of control.

The uses such tests are put to demonstrates the point. Particularly in the present when they are being used, for example, to defund and close schools and fire teachers, while opening privately owned and managed schools staffed by teachers without labor protections.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #19)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 06:17 PM

24. That the instruments (tests in this case) are misused ...

Because an instrument, whether a psychological test or surgical instrument, is used to implement injustice does not mean it was developed or intended for such use.

Your argument fails sophomore rhetoric.

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Response to unc70 (Reply #24)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 02:23 AM

25. The entire impulse for the extension of testing is to do these things. And always was; to rank,

 

categorize, and label people in order to annoint some and push others back.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #25)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 03:21 AM

28. There is no point in discussing this further with you

You really consider how silly your arguments seem to those of us who know anything about this subject. Probably rather silly to nearly everyone else, too.

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Response to unc70 (Reply #28)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 03:59 AM

29. I may know more about the subject than you imagine. So I am not surprised that you call

 

my comments "silly".

Such is expected of those who consider the ranking, categorizing and ordering of human beings "normal" and "necessary".

and i'm not the only one who thinks so.

Unequal By Design critically examines high-stakes standardized testing in order to illuminate what is really at stake for students, teachers, and communities negatively affected by such testing. This thoughtful analysis traces standardized testing’s origins in the Eugenics and Social Efficiency movements of the late 19th and early 20th century through its current use as the central tool for national educational reform via No Child Left Behind. By exploring historical, social, economic, and educational aspects of testing, author Wayne Au demonstrates that these tests are not only premised on the creation of inequality, but that their structures are inextricably intertwined with social inequalities that exist outside of schools.

http://www.amazon.com/Unequal-Design-High-Stakes-Standardization-Inequality/dp/0415990718

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #29)

Thu Apr 19, 2012, 05:46 AM

45. I stand by my earlier assessment

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Response to unc70 (Reply #5)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 05:19 AM

31. Yep. Also, responses #1 and #20. (nt)

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 04:08 AM

7. where is the test that shows this

i work in a kitchen with CIA Certified executive chef overseeing our work
i am now the old cook and part of what weold cooks do is find the new cooks
there is something different about us
cooks i mean
we are creatures of the night and we are forced to party after party hours
we are not like other people and eventually we recognize our own
i have been pushing chef to draft a bus boy to be my fry cook
its a serious position but i know it sounds like not much
the bus boy is 18 high school grad dragging his ass to work and slopping plates for richer people
he had no future no money no chance working for under minimun wage and his tip out
his mom is a waitress and i am hard on waitresses i will be the first to admit it
but she was a worried mom too
kid out of school no skills no college bussing tables only lasts so long
so i got chef to move him over for a week it took 6 months of solid bitching moaning complaining and crying
but he finally caved and gave the kid a try out
the saute man and i trained him in basics for a week and then slowly started backing off
tonight he had tempura soft shell crab with new orleans butter sauce
every dish a masterpiece even chef has told him how good his work is
and here is his payoff
our little restaurant is the best in our county
for the rest of his life this lost child can find work
now where is the test that shows his talent ?and by god it is a talent this kid is knocking it out
where is that test?

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Response to SwampG8r (Reply #7)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 06:32 AM

11. Well said

thanks

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Response to SwampG8r (Reply #7)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 06:29 PM

35. You're right. It's a talent you learn to spot.

And there is no test for it. I find it a little ironic that I consistently nailed all standardized tests in school, have always scored at least 3 Standard Deviation out on IQ, but you know what I'm doing? I cook. The goofy hours suit my sleeping habits, and the mental challenge of running a busy line smoothly and calmly is one of the more difficult things I've done.

peace,
Noodleboy

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Response to Noodleboy13 (Reply #35)

Tue Apr 17, 2012, 11:54 PM

44. one of us one of us

yes i myself am a graduate od a plumbing school and have a tiny degree in computer programming
but there i am in front of a stove every time
we are the last of the free people better enjoy it while you can

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 05:13 AM

9. K & R!

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 06:19 AM

10. k&r

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 08:33 AM

12. Need I mention Margaret Sanger?

I have yet to hear a reasonable alternative to standardized testing of some form to handle the retail needs of most colleges to evaluate applicants for scholarships and admissions. GPA is dependent on whether your school is Monty Hall (handing out As like candy) or like our school that does not add weight to Honors and AP classes even though getting an A in them is much more difficult than the general classes. I think Iowa has a reasonable approach - they have a Regents Admission Index that combines ACT, Class Rank, GPA, and number of core courses to determine an admission's index. You hit the number you know you are admitted (also some scholarships have the RAI as a cut line - you hit it you get the scholarship). It should be noted that the highest level scholarships have ACT cut lines of 31 (actually a 33+ is required to realistically receive one to the University of Iowa for example).

State schools have huge numbers of applicants to wade through.

How different are our admissions tests than the tests in England or Germany?

It is obvious prep work moves the number on these standardized. Even the organizations administering them offer prep services. The important thing to remember is that all High Schools are not of equal standing when grading (or what is actually taught in a specific course for example the problem with so called "Algebra" courses that did not adequately teach the subject). It is interesting even Fair Test (the largest critic of standardized testing) engages in less than complete disclosure. For example they characterize the University of Arizona as one school that does not require ACT/SAT but look at U of A's website:

Applicants may be admitted to the university without test scores but will not be considered for UA scholarships or admission to The Honors College. SAT/ACT test scores may also be required by specific departments or majors and/or for placement into foundation coursework at orientation.


It is interesting that colleges continue to layer more testing requirements even beyond the ACT/AP tests for example. Our state schools also employ ALEKS for math placement. The problem with ALEKS (at least at one school that I know about) is that the test can be taken on your PC at home - no opportunity for security.


I am not saying the SAT/ACT is perfect, but I would like to get alternatives to wade through the mass of applications to public unversities.

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/college_bound/2011/06/new_study_questions_validity_of_two_parts_of_act.html

The study, Improving College Performance and Retention the Easy Way: Unpacking the ACT Exam, by Eric P. Bettinger, Brent J. Evans, and Devin G. Pope, suggests that two of the four sub tests of the ACT, English and mathematics, are highly predictive of positive college outcomes, while the other two, science and reading, provide little or no additional predictive power.

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Response to exboyfil (Reply #12)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 09:08 AM

13. We don't need an alternative

Standardized tests, especially those which are used for college admittance, are skewed to specific genders and races, and can be "gamed" by being able to afford classes on how to take the test.

Last I read, almost 1,000 four-year colleges and universities in the US do not require SAT or ACT scores as part of the admittance process for a Bachelor's degree. Most of these are respected and accredited institutions.

Not every school uses these, and many schools (including the CA State system) don;t want to use them, but testing is a business as entrenched as insurance, and with lobbyists as savvy and rabid to protect their money-making machine. Even if it's on the backs of students who deserve to be in college.

You get extra points for throwing in the Margaret Sanger boogeyman.

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Response to obamanut2012 (Reply #13)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 09:32 AM

15. What standard to use for ploughing through 20,000

applicants for 2,000 spots? I frankly would be happy if the ACT was eliminated so that my 4.0 daughter (who would stay 4.0 by selective picking of future courses) could get scholarships currently 33 ACT students get. She is projected to score in the 24-27 range.

Do you honestly think that someone that scores in the teens on the Math section of the ACT would succeed in Enginnering?

Be careful about that 1,000 figure. I investigated just a few schools on the Fair Test website, and I found them in error (UT Austin, University of Northern Iowa as two examples). Read the application literature on the schools' website. Privates are a whole different matter, and I have no comment on them because they have absolutely no meaning in my life (for example while Harvard would cost us less than the University of Iowa - if my daugther got into Harvard she would probably get a very generous scholarship to Iowa). My daughter is going to one of the three state universities.

The institutions that matter most in the argument about test scores are the large public universities that serve as the backbone of post secondary education in the U.S. The UC system is a special case, and I do like the suggestion of, if you are in the top 10% of your public High School graduating class, you are into the system irrespective of test scores, extracurriculars, etc. You still have the issue as to what to do with out of staters, private school, and homeschooled candidates. Private school admissions is a fool's game anyway. They can admit for whatever reason they want. A far more interesting perspective would be looking at the University of Virginia for example in which many 4.0 in state students get turned away - that should never happen at a state school.

I threw in Sanger because the SAT was bashed because of a link with eugenics. Same argument could be made for Sanger (and by implication Planned Parenthood). Whatever the origin of something its current merits should be considered (anyone ever here of Volkswagen?).

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 09:30 AM

14. A lot of people were eugenicists before 1945.


If you were interested in measuring the physiological, behavioral, cognitive or affective traits you were likely in the eugenicist movement.

Standardized testing in terms of IQ has duel roots in Sir Francis Galton's anthropometrics and Alfred Binet's more altruist educational screening tools. Today's IQ tests have more in common with Binet's work than Galton's.

Hopefully this is not a pseudo-historical attempt t smear standardized tests the same way wingnuts us Sanger's participation in eugenics societies as a smear of contraception, abortion, and planned parenthood.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 11:09 AM

16. If you think standardized testing is okay,

do you understand that we are using standardized testing in Head Start? With 3 year olds? Yes, some behavioral scientist actually tested enough 3 year olds to establish norms. This is academic testing. Like how many colors does your 3 year old recognize and how far can he count and does he know all his letters.

I want to know how many other 'experts' spoke up and said wait a minute, we can find all that out without using an expensive (and meaningless) standardized test? I want to know if any 'expert' spoke up and asked why are we labeling our 3 year olds? Why are we deciding at age 3 what group they belong in and - what are we going to DO with this information?

As a special ed teacher in an elementary school, I see kids all the time who were labeled as being 'intellectually deficient' when they were in kindergarten. And then a couple years later, in 2nd or 3rd grade, we test them again and decide they have average cognitive functioning and those standard scores we got when they were younger are just not valid.

This is not an exact science for determining functioning in our teenagers; it is even less exact for our pre-schoolers. But the more we depend on these arbitrary standards, the more we will see them used to judge our young children and categorize them into programs with specific tracts. And if that doesn't bother you, I don't know what to tell you.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #16)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 08:16 PM

38. Maybe the tests were accurate, but the special education helped them?

Or maybe it's inappropriate to test toddlers, since they aren't really developed yet?

Is there another kind of test that is better? How would a college know the intellectual level of a prospective student w/o a standardized test? School grades vary according to the school...maybe you had a good school or a bad school, so that grades aren't the whole story.

Tests aren't usually used as the whole story, are they? Aren't they part of a picture, although a big part?

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Response to Honeycombe8 (Reply #38)

Tue Apr 17, 2012, 10:39 AM

39. I don't understand your point about special ed

Standardized means identical testing conditions. Without that, the scores aren't valid.

I can't speak about the use of standardized tests in high school or college. Not my area of expertise. But I can tell you these tests are both developmentally inappropriate and over used for our youngest students.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 02:46 PM

18. why do we need the MCATs? some future doctors may not do well

 

On standardized tests.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 04:17 PM

20. As. Did. Birth. Control.

I'm not willing to throw that out

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Response to Tom Ripley (Reply #20)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 04:19 PM

21. You mean lysol douches?

LOL. Do you have a link for that?

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Response to Quantess (Reply #21)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 04:44 PM

22. No, Margaret Sanger (and I have no problem with her efforts)

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Response to Tom Ripley (Reply #22)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 04:55 PM

23. Oh. Well yes, she was a champion of access to birth control for poor women.

You are right about that. But I would think there were other motivating factors, like not having to worry about getting pregnant, when birth control was developed.

Anyway, whoops! Off topic.

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Response to Quantess (Reply #23)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 04:18 AM

30. other motivating factors:

 

In 1920 Sanger publicly stated that "birth control is nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit of preventing the birth of defectives."

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/pill/peopleevents/e_eugenics.html

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Response to Tom Ripley (Reply #20)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 02:37 AM

27. Birth control didn't originate in the eugenics movement. The promotion of birth control for the

 

lower orders did.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #27)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 06:47 AM

33. Exactly. Thank you for putting it so concisely.

Why couldn't I have just said that? I'm losing my english skills, it seems.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 02:31 AM

26. Alternatives? n/t

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 08:11 PM

37. I'm going to guess that those tests have been changed over the years.

So I don't know if it matters what they were like at the beginning.

I don't buy the argument that standardized tests are discriminatory. Or at least I've never heard an argument I agree with. But then I haven't heard all the arguments.

But standardized tests are here to stay. What other kind of test would you recommend?

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Response to Honeycombe8 (Reply #37)

Tue Apr 17, 2012, 10:43 AM

40. Cultural bias has been found repeatedly in standardized tests

That argument was settled years ago.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #40)

Sat Apr 21, 2012, 08:46 PM

46. Not true. Some people have found bias. The tests...

given in America are biased against people living in Costa Rica, maybe. So?

It is not settled, is my point.

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Response to Honeycombe8 (Reply #37)

Tue Apr 17, 2012, 10:53 AM

41. As for what I think we should do instead -

Portfolio assessment is more valid and a better representation of achievement. But it's not practical and is very time consuming to score.

For pre-schoolers I would suggest no standardized testing at all. Teachers can easily assess skills without using a norm referenced standardized test.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #41)

Tue Apr 17, 2012, 11:09 AM

42. What about for everyone else?

 

You said not for pre-schoolers. Ok. What about K-12?

It's pretty easy to point out the flaws with standardized testing. For that matter you could make a career pointing out the flaws in *any* system.

Finding a superior replacement or better implementation is a bit more difficult.

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Response to 4th law of robotics (Reply #42)

Tue Apr 17, 2012, 12:32 PM

43. Portfolio assessment would work well for elementary

I won't make a recommendation for secondary because that's not my area of expertise.

I also would support standardized testing at specified grade levels like we used to do. Like maybe 3rd and 6th grades. Criterion referenced testing would be even better but that's more expensive so I doubt it will happen.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #41)

Sat Apr 21, 2012, 08:50 PM

47. I don't think that should be in the hands of teachers. Talk about bias.

Teachers, being human, might have unconscious natural predispositions to assess some higher than others. For example, I read of one study years ago giving teachers written papers by students. Identical papers were turned in with a boy's name, and a girl's name. The ones with boy names generally received higher grades. I'm sure the teachers didn't intentionally grade the papers higher beause they thought a boy wrote them. They just had a built in, unknown, predisposition to think more highly of a boy's work.

Why does a kindergartner need to be tested at all, unless there's a problem? I don't think I was.

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