Saturday, March 26, 2011

Testing Kills Learning...The SAT and ETS

As a teacher, I must say test-prep and the focus on standardized tests "kills" learning. The world is not in A,B,C,D format and such learning is not innovative, creative, "high level thinking".
The creator of the original SAT college entrance exam, Carl Bringham, was a eugenicist, arguing that immigration should be limited especially to non-Nordic Europeans because they were supposedly intellectually inferior. He proved this through tests given to prove intelligence in army men; his tests were biased and included many popular culture referenced question which recent immigrants would likely not know, and thus they were deemed inferior. In fact he had a key role in immigration quotas especially ones against the "Mediterraeans" including the Jews, during the1930s. He then had a change of heart, but it was too late; the quotas were in place for quite some time. Oh, and he was the first President of ETS.

While I don't agree with Brigham's racist ideas, he once said something I must agree with; perhaps he had a moment of lucidity as to what the future cold hold once it embraced his exams; "If the unhappy day ever comes when teachers point their students toward these newer examinations, and the present weak and restricted procedures get a grip on education, then we may look for the inevitable distortion of education in terms of tests. And that means that mathematics will continue to be completely departmentalized and broken into disintegrated bits, that the sciences will become highly verbalized and that computation, manipulation and thinking in terms other than verbal will be minimized, that languages will be taught for linguistic skills only without reference to literary values, that English will be taught for reading alone, and that practice and drill in the writing of English will disappear."

Presidential hopeful Ralph Nader attacked ETS in 1979 saying theo nly thing ETS hadn't tried was to "test for admission into heaven" and that the SAT predicted college performance about as well as a pair of dice.

No comments:

Post a Comment