What Educational Testing Really Tells Us

Monday, October 13, 2008

Students, schools, and teachers are often judged by standardized test scores. Find out what tests like the MCAT and the SATs really measure, and how often are they misunderstood and misused. Daniel Koretz is author of Measuring Up.


Daniel Koretz
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Comments [5]


I a BBC documentary on intelligence called "Battle of the Brains." It seems that most psychiatrist agree that IQ tests only tell "half the story" and that experts "still don't know exactly what [intelligence] is."

Seven people (a musical prodigy, a quantum physicist, an artist, a dramatist, an RAF fighter pilot, a chess grandmaster and a Wall Street trader) were put through a series of tasks that focused on solving practical problems, imagination, creativity, emotional intelligence (or EIQ) and spatial ability. (I was stumped by the cork in the bottle problem. The subjects were given three items in which to remove it: a hanger, a handkerchief, and a bag of sugar.)

I think there was a tie for first between the physicist and the dramatist.

Oct. 13 2008 03:24 PM
Bradley Smith from Colorado Springs, CO

As the mother of an 18 year-old with an IQ of 162, yet has a processing speed of 88, it seemed to us that with all the proper testing completely and a formal report written -- the CollegeBoard should have agreed to given him extra time in the SAT exam. No! They wanted proof that without that time he couldn't finish -- would you think that simply looking at their own exams -- SAT/PSAT/AP -- that they could see that without additional time -- he was getting everything right until he ran out of time. I have simply read that it takes approximately 3 times to get the extra time -- please make people aware of this long process. Also, your guest's own institution is not really interested in hearing this information when kids apply -- so I think his first institution to work with is Harvard. I think this is so dissapointing that a highly rated institution, since it has so many qualified applicants, doesn't take the time to digger deeper. Please make parents aware of the fact that their kids really need help, becaukse bright kids manage to sneak through and they really can perfom with a few extra minutes! Thanks! Bradley Smith

Oct. 13 2008 01:59 PM
Gabriel Reich from Richmond VA

For most subjects there are hardly any academic studies about what the test actually measures. Especially where multiple-choice items are concerned.

What we have is a cultural phenomenon where cultural expectations are largely fulfilled. If too many students in the South Bronx, where I taught history, do well - the test is too easy. If too many students in Scarsdale do poorly, the test is too difficult. The Math A Regents debacle is a good example of this.

Oct. 13 2008 01:54 PM
Ken from Manhattan

Educators often say that "tests don't what kids know". This seems to assume that there is some other measure that *does* measure what kids know.

I want to know that that measure is.

Oct. 13 2008 01:51 PM
Karen from Brooklyn

I was recently denied admission to a PhD program with the explanation that my GRE scores were not high enough. I already have two MS degrees (one from an ivy league school) and find it difficult to understand the importance of this test in light of my background. These tests are irrelevant.

Oct. 13 2008 12:07 PM

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