WSJ: Standardized Tests, Ancient and Modern.

Back in 2018, I wrote a comment about a WSJ article titled “The Gatekeeper Tests.” Today, I read an article in my March 13, 2021 print copy WSJ titled “Standardized Tests, Ancient and Modern” (it is titled “The Ordeal of Standardized Testing” in the WSJ online edition; strange as this is reverse of the positivity in titling lesson that TED has followed) by Amanda Foreman.

The article tickles me a little because it tries to show a history of standardized testing systems – set in wholly negative circumstance. And it’s more of what is not mentioned as parallels in testing historically that bemuses me. Even today, the SAT (and ACT etc) are obviously more Big Business than Education in a present when superior alternatives are readily available. If the motivation (or better put, raison d’ĂȘtre) for standardized testing is actual academic ability and accomplishment, then the purpose works, and the autonomy and mastery elements join in too. This is consistent with the various historical settings described in the article.

It’s a tool. And if used correctly and applied correctly, can be quite valuable. And like most tools, they need periodic improvements and refinements. And if I use the YCISL idea of precision vs accuracy-based education, standardized testing could use the same paradigm shift.

Think about all the forms of testing that exist today. Would anyone think their test would improve if they followed the SAT model? From tech QA to chemical analysis to sports performance to transportation to whatever else…, the SAT model is the one you need to face away from.

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