Standardised Tests and their History

Throughout the United States and for most part the rest of the world just about everyone has taken a standardised test in their life or will be required to in the future.

In United States alone it is common to have taken two dozen or more timed standardized tests before graduating high school. United States public education was not always ran and ranked by standardised tests.

It all began with Socrates a Greek philosopher and a teacher. Socrates used an open dialogue format of questions and answers. His pet subjects were often ethical issues and nature. Today using dialogue in order to educate is still referred to as the “Socratic Method”.

The first recorded standardized test came from China around the seventeenth century It was used within the government to screen job applicants, to qualify the applicants had to sit a written test. The subject in question was Confucius’ philosophy. The candidates where expected to be well informed on the subject. Every applicant took the test and for this very reason this was considered to be an official first standardised test.

United States show records of standardized testing from around the year 1845. Horace Mann began to test his students on their spelling abilities, geography and mathematics. Following an introduction of Thorndike Handwriting Scale to the public school system around 1909 schools began to measure students handwriting abilities. Then not much later a multiple choice format was created by Frederick Kelly in around 1914.

Some interesting statistics:

Today an average student will take somewhere between 18 and 21 standardized tests before graduating high school.

In the 1950s this average average was 3.

In 1900 the board of the College Entrance Exam created a variety of written exams. These written exams covered math, science, literature, and Latin.

Grading these was done solely by university professors and so in 1926 in order to make this grading process quicker colleges started implementing SAT. An exam that used a multiple choice format.

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Eventually around the end of 1941 the College Board decided to stop using entrance exams in the written form and to strictly stick to SAT.

By the time 60s came around every student who attended public school was subjected to regular testing. Sometime in 1983 it came to public attention that scores were dropping at a constant rate for decades. This in turn gave birth to the bill ‘No Child Left Behind’ in 2001 and was signed by George W. Bush. The bill called for students who attended public schools to be tested every year.

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