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Monday, August 08, 2005

Standardized tests

In yesterday’s Boston Globe there’s an interview with Bob Sternberg, psychology professor at Yale, president of the American Psychological Association, and newly appointed dean of Arts and Sciences at Tufts. Globe correspondent Peter DeMarco asked him about the use of standardized IQ tests. Sternberg’s reply:
If you grow up in...Weston..., for most of the kids the tests are fairly good measures of the analytical part of intelligence. If you grow up in Roxbury, chances are it’s not going to tell you the same things as it does a kid from Weston. And the reason is that kids grow up with different challenges...
Having taught kids from Weston as well as kids from Roxbury, I had mixed feelings about this claim — until I read I again. When you don’t read it carefully, you realize that it’s a gross over-generalization that contains a kernel of truth. But when you pay attention to Sternberg’s qualifiers — notice “most of the kids” and “chances are” — you realize that his analysis is correct.

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