The Search for Ability: Standardized Testing in Social Perspective

The Search for Ability: Standardized Testing in Social Perspective

The Search for Ability: Standardized Testing in Social Perspective

The Search for Ability: Standardized Testing in Social Perspective

Excerpt

This book is the first in a series of reports on the social conse- quences of ability testing, for which publication is planned by Russell Sage Foundation. Dr. Goslin's study analyzes the striking change which has taken place in our society during the past half- century in the development and use of ability tests in assigning individuals to positions in society, and in creating opportunities for social mobility.

The increasing use of tests in the United States constitutes a change in emphasis from traditional bases for the determination of status, such as race, sex, religion, and order of birth, to a greater reliance on this new criterion, performance on a standardized test of ability. As Dr. Goslin points out, the source of this change can be traced to a number of factors, including the growing concern for education in America and the greater technological complexity of the society which makes it of increased importance that individuals occupy positions for which they are well suited. It is notable that the growth of standardized testing has come about as a direct result of the application of social science techniques to the solution of a problem; that is, how to select the best-qualified individuals for the various educational and occupational positions in society.

At present virtually nothing is known about what effects the testing movement is having on our society, and on the individuals who are directly affected by test results. The social consequences of standardized testing have not been considered systematically by testers or by social scientists, despite the expanding importance of the movement and the number of decisions being made on the basis of test results. In this vacuum of information about test consequences, an interesting body of folklore has sprung up; an example being the taboos against telling a child or even a child's . . .

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