The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Daily Cardinal highlighted a trio of undergraduate researchers this past week who allege that standardized testing “exemplifies systematic racism” which, among other things, hinders the college attendance of black Americans.
Juniors Tyriek Mack, Marquise Mays, and Tashiana Lipscomb presented their findings at the International Colloquium on Black Males in Education earlier this month.
“The group compiled research to create a narrative,” the article notes, “for how standardized testing came to be and found that the tests corroborated white supremacist tendencies of the creators.”
“Create a narrative,” eh?
The students didn’t have to dig all that hard to discover the rather unappetizing beginnings of such testing:
Standardized tests first entered American public schools in the 1920s, at the urging of eugenicists whose pseudoscience proclaimed that white males were naturally smarter.
One of these early eugenicists was Carl Brigham, a professor at Princeton University and author of the white supremacist manifesto, A Study of American Intelligence. Brigham developed the Scholastic Aptitude Test, known as the SAT. Some of the most important early voices in opposition to intelligence testing—especially in service of ranking the races—came from leading African American intellectuals such as W.E.B. Du Bois and Howard Long. Horace Mann Bond, in his work “Intelligence Tests and Propaganda,” noted in 1924 what today we call the “Zip Code Effect”—what standardized tests really measure is a student’s proximity to wealth and the dominant culture.
Certainly, contemporary concerns about the quantity of testing and certain biases within tests have merit; however, should we completely ditch standardized assessments merely due to their creators’ backgrounds?
Under such a standard, we would do away with access to abortions — because Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist who wanted to use the procedure to help produce “cleaner” races … and held other objectionable views on race (specifically towards blacks).
It’s highly unlikely (progressives) would ever agree to that proposal; why, then, completely abolish standardized exams?
Mr. Mack says that “Our role on this campus is to be able to use this, standardized testing, as a way to challenge those people who are saying they aren’t racist to act. And when they don’t I think it’s clear that they are actually racist, because they continue to benefit from this institutional structure.”
Come on. Even if you think a modern once-per-year standardized exam to obtain a “snapshot” of student progress is appropriate, you’re a racist?
Mack might want to inform a certain Furious Styles about his views. Even he thinks 50% of the SAT is valid:
(Progressive) professor James Loewen (author of the popular book Lies My Teacher Told Me) once offered a “solution” to the issue of test cultural bias noted by Furious: Just use “culturally relevant” questions.
Here is a sample he offered (noted in Dinesh D’Souza’s book Illiberal Education):
Saturday Ajax got an LD:
a) He had smoked too much grass
b) He tripped out on drugs
c) He brought her to his apartment
d) He showed it off to his fox
e) He became wised up
When I first read that back in the day, I kept waiting for a note that it was a joke. It isn’t.