Paradigm Shift Draft

Meet Student A. He is a pleasant young junior in high school, and at this very moment, a very nervous one. We are lucky to observe him in the process of discovering his entire fate with just a push of a mouse. Click! And out pops a four digit number, the digits that piece together a score, which determines how intelligent he really is. Collegeboard’s website is stained on his eyeballs as he begins to visualize how the rest of his life will play out simply based on that number. Good luck, Student A. We hope you scored yourself a good, successful life.

Student A’s situation is a slightly exaggerated one. However, there is this type of dramatic sentiment surrounding the standardized testing jungle every high schooler must fight their way through. They are required to crawl through copious amounts of practice exams, climb trees of progress, and after an attempt to escape, might have to duck under the branches of disappointment. Some get it lucky; a simply stroll and they escape, unscratched, left with the satisfaction of a worthy score, a score that measures human intelligence and leads them to a life of success. What power a simple number has. But this power is waning. As standardized testing has gained attention around the United States, so has its criticism. The mania surrounding standardized testing in America’s education system as a means of demonstrating intelligence has been dented by the growing realization of one gaping flaw: its inability to accurately measure a student’s intellect. The awareness of this weakness is due to a developing shift in what society dubs intelligent, a shift from the stereotypical book-smart nerd to a student whose character traits, like persistence, ambition, and self-control, qualities that are incapable of being shown through any test score, speak more loudly.

Paragraph 1:

  • The origins of the standardized test and the reasons for its creation. Prove that standardized testing is equated with student performance in schools; their intelligence. Gives the score so much power

When the concept of standardized testing was developed, one of its major goals was to measure a student’s skills and knowledge and essentially a student’s level of intelligence. The testing era of education began with the creation of the IQ test. In 1905, Alfred Binet, a French psychologist, developed the first IQ test whose sole purpose was to measure human intelligence. The test began gaining popularity when Harvard professor Robert Yerkes introduced the test to the United States Army during World War I, where these tests were administered in order to denote the smartest candidates for an officer position. From the army, the test began trickling down to American schools. Carl Brigham, a colleague of Yerkes who participated in the inception of the Army IQ tests, transformed this IQ test to one that can be used on a major scale for students in schools. Thus, in 1926, the SAT was born. Brigham planted the SAT seed in the American secondary education system with roots extending back to the IQ test, the ultimate test of intelligence. Its roots still stand strong with its growth thriving; from this SAT seed grew all other standardized testing: the PSAT, the AP exams, the GRE, the MCAT, the LSAT, the “whatever three or four letter acronym-AT”. The list is long, so it’s difficult not to notice how prevalent standardized testing is in American education. It’s also not difficult to see why we put have placed so much weight on these tests. These tests, ever since its creation, were used to group students in separate categories. They were used to place students in different tracking systems, one track for the high scorers, which led them towards a life of enriching academia, and one track for the lower scorers, a track towards labor and vocational careers. They were used as a scholarship test for students applying to Harvard and eventually to all Ivy League universities. Only the intelligent students were placed on the academic track. Only the intelligent students were smart enough to receive scholarships for entry into Ivy League schools. The only way they were distinguished as intelligent? The scores they received on those standardized tests. Those scores told these test takers whether they were intelligent or not, and now, they tell students whether they are smart enough to get into a certain university or college. And so students now have this idea that if the score’s not high, neither is their intelligence.


Paragraph 2:

  • The beginnings of the opposition to standardized testing. The shift begins
  • Previous opposition, never quite took off
  • UC president Richard Atkinson speech marks the beginning (Jost) of the new wave of criticism. UC was the first to accept SAT in college admissions.
  • Fabricated scores due to competition
  • Fairtest Statistic: The amount of universities not requiring SAT increasing
  • Discrimination for under-privileged students: African-Americans and Hispanics

Yet, despite all the flourish of standardized testing, it’s finally beginning to wilt. These standardized tests haven’t always been looked well upon. It’s taken its fair amount of hits, but it has managed to recover from the wounds. Until recently. According to Kenneth Jost, an adjunct professor of the Georgetown University Law Center, a new, stronger wave of criticism has flooded the stability of the standardized test, a hit that it will likely never fully recover from (Jost n.p. ).

Paragraph 3:

  • Present the solution: value of character
  • In the New York Times article, the students who had higher grit did better than those with better college-board exam scores

Paragraph 4:

  • Analyze how this is a shift
    • We are now opposing standardized testing and now valuing character more
    • instilling character education in the education infrastructure

Paragraph 5:

  • What does this shift mean about our culture in America?
  • We value character more
  • Ask Sarah about the full impact. You are not analyzing enough.


  • Resort back to student juxtaposition
  • There is still progress left to be done; it is difficult to clear up the chaos surrounding standardized testing and college acceptance and intelligence but we are getting there
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1 Response to Paradigm Shift Draft

  1. Sarah Chang says:

    The first paragraph after the introduction needs a lot of work. Right now it’s shallow without any citing of sources (I need to confirm how to cite it). It’s lacking style and is a bit thin in my opinion. I think it is also lacking credibility since I don’t have hard core data and right now no sources. Will make it more persuasive and credible.

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