Friday, 23 April 2010

California Discourages Standardized Testing

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Standardized tests are not a perfect tool to measure academic achievement or intellectual ability. But standardized tests represent a serious attempt to objectively determine how much a student has learned and how well his mind works in certain defined areas.

It is color-blind, gender neutral, and does not see the religion or national origin of those who take the test. The SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) has worked for decades to remove any possible bias against those who come from different cultural backgrounds.

The SAT Reasoning Test is intended to test how well the minds of the tested students do in solving problems and thinking logically. Rational thinking is at the heart of higher education or, if it is not, then higher education has been turned into something more akin to “re-education” along the lines of Marxist educational systems. In Soviet schools and colleges, a firm grasp of Marxist-Leninist “thinking” was imperative for every student who wished to advance academically or professionally. Any student who saw Marxism as destructive nonsense needed to be silent or he would end up working at a menial job like sweeping the streets of Leningrad.

California’s Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools (BOARS) is discouraging students from taking the SAT in order to gain admission to California public universities. Why? Presumably the problem is that certain ethnic groups, blacks and Hispanics specifically, on average perform below average on the SAT. White students perform better than blacks and Hispanics. Asian students score better on the SAT than any ethnic group. Despite this disparity, blacks and Hispanics are graduating from California colleges at higher rates than in 1996, when Californians adopted Proposition 209, which banned racial preferences in college admissions. One logical conclusion from this is that more qualified blacks and Hispanics are now entering college and so these more academically competent minority students are also doing better while in college.

The underlying and unspoken problem, it appears, is unhappiness with any objective measurement of a student’s academic ability, because those tests routinely show, as a group, that blacks and Hispanics fair relatively poorly in those areas. The success of Asian students demonstrates that “ethnic bias” in standardized tests is a myth. The real problem is the relative value that those underperforming ethnic groups place on education and study. When acquiring a strong command of the English language, both written and spoken, is dismissed or condemned by blacks or Hispanics, and when doing homework or going to the library is considered less important than playing sports, then the practical effect is that standardized tests scores for those groups will lag behind other ethnic groups.

California, simply because of its demographic weight, affects attitudes toward education throughout the nation. As California moves to diminish any objective academic standards for students in college, other states will tend to follow. And as objective standards begin to melt away, the very value of public education will tend to vanish as well.

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