On Standards and Diversity

Standardized Testing

Standardized tests reveal a distressing fact of life; that education, while overall good, is not fairly and equally distributed in any nation. School performances can directly be related to the income status of parents. Everyone would like to know, how to change this. Ideas are as plentiful as people interested in this theme. Solutions are as hard to come by as changing the fabric of a society. In the US, where the interest in accountability and use of standardized testing is as high as ever, the solutions to quality and equality in public education have to square with the demand for diversity. The big question then is, how can diversity retain any meaning if the goal of equality is to be achieved by standardized testing.

Standards of testing are also standards of admission to higher education. Higher education prospers in an environment of student diversity while demanding some form of standardization in testing and admission criteria. Historically, the student body of higher education reflects a class based standard that universities are trying to overcome. Merit based admission procedures are ultimately the fairest way of selection. Merit is a reflection of an individual's academic achievement and this achievement is biased by socioeconomic circumstances, i.e., the rich and the poor. Tests do not measure future ability, they measure past performance. Ultimately, testing should reflect an individual's abilities based on past scholastic, athletic, artistic, and interpersonal skills.

Next: What good education is

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Copyright © 2000-2011 Lukas K. Buehler