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Standardized Tests, exams designed to objectively measure the academic aptitude of students from varying social backgrounds and with different educational experience. Students in the United States take standardized tests in elementary school, in high school, and at the undergraduate and graduate levels of higher education. Most standardized tests are administered through the Educational Testing Service (ETS) or the American College Testing (ACT) Program. Educational institutions use the results of standardized tests to evaluate a student s academic performance, as well as to assess a high school or college students potential for undertaking an undergraduate or graduate degree program.
More than 100 million tests are administered each year in the United States (Standardized). In 1900 a consortium of prestigious East Coast colleges and universities known as Ivy League schools formed the College Entrance Examination Board, or College Board. The College Board was designed to address the concerns of students who were required to take different entrance examinations for each college or university they applied to. In 1901, Carl Brigham, a psychology professor at Princeton University and supporter of intelligence quotient (IQ) tests, devised a standardized entrance exam for the College Board called the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). The SAT enabled students to take a single entrance exam when applying for admission to several different schools (Lemann 19 - 21) Americans have been growing increasingly concerned with the quality of the nation s public schools since 1983. That year, the Education Department released a report, A Nation at Risk, which found U.
S. students to be significantly less able than their counterparts in Japan and other industrialized nations. Many students, the report stated, were not learning the basic reading and math skills they needed to become productive members of society; a problem, the report s writers warned, that threatens our very future as a nation (Lemann 97). Some critics claim that the emphasis on high-test scores encourages schools to teach only the material likely to be covered in the tests rather than provide a comprehensive education. Yet a student s thinking and analytical skills are at least as valuable as his or her ability to retain specific facts. Every hour that teachers feel compelled to try to raise test scores is an hour not spent helping kids become critical, creative, curious thinkers, says Alfie Kohn, author of The Schools Our Children Deserve (74).
Furthermore, an increasing number of states are still developing specific academic standards and are administering high-stakes tests to assess student adherence to those standards. In 2000, every public school student in the U. S. will likely take at least one standardized test, according to the AFT. Yet standards and tests continue to evolve (Hillard 294).
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