Thursday, June 23, 2011

This day in history - June 23, 1926: The College Board Administers the first Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)

I go back and forth in my own mind about the value of standardized tests. Mostly I end up being pretty traditional about the whole thing, thinking that some kind of national benchmark is necessary if not desirable, but I could easily be convinced otherwise.

What I do remember from high school is the potential for damage to a student's sense of self-worth based on that number, two numbers actually (verbal and math), that seemed to have far too much significance in determining how each us thought about ourselves and each other.

Were you a 1220 or a 940 or even a 1540? The highest score, if I remember correctly, was a combined 1600 (800 math, 800 verbal).

[The highest possible score was 1600 when I took it back in the early '90s, but changes in 2005, specifically the addition of a writing section, made it 2400. For more on the SAT, in my view a thoroughly ridiculous and wildly overvalued "test," see here -- MJWS]

Yes, it's true. Life is about winners and losers and there is always someone standing there with a clipboard to tell you which camp you're in.

(Cross-posted to Lippmann's Ghost.)

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