Monday, January the 17th, 2005

(This is a guest opinion piece. Whose? It doesn’t matter. I may or may not agree with the words that follow. If you find them offensive, you have no concrete reason to hate me, because I probably didn’t agree with anything said. All occurences of “I” below are used by our mysterious guest commentator, they don’t mean me.)

It was unbelievably cold. It was late, and I still had a hard night’s work ahead of me. I decided to tank up on food and drink to fuel me through the challenges ahead*. It was then that I saw it, a lone poorly published news paper. Curious, I peek into it and read a most intriguing article about standardised testing, and coloured people. The only thing that was common between my beliefs and the article, was that tests were hate-worthy.

It began pleasantly enough, building a case as to why standardised tests (and I extrapolated that to tests in general), are evil. How they fail to truly measure the intellectual capacity of the testee (I don’t really know if that’s a word, but that hasn’t stopped me from using such before). It then branched off into a slight history lesson dealing with the origin of tests as a measure of intelligence. All was fine, until that point, where the author emphatically exclaimed all tests were formulated by people forward (rich, white) in society, and how the tests were biased to suit their ends as a result. He then proceeded to explain how today’s tests, such as the SATs have been derived in some form or the other from these original tests, hence “inherently” biased. In order to support his claims, he spouts statistics pertaining to how well forward (rich, white) people do in comparison to backward (poor, black) people — how most results always seem to claim (say) 89% of the blacks are morons. He went further establishing a correlation between income and scores, as in quantitatively stating how an increase in parental income of so much results in so many more points on such and such test.

Then, by his insane logic, all one needs to do to ace any test, ever, is to be born/adopted by billionaires (who’re white, of course). Anyway, moving along because things don’t stop there, there is more.

There is a class of people, called the somethings (I should know the word, but it’s late, and I’m tired to look it up) who honestly believe some classes people are “inherently better” than other classes. Furthermore, they will go to extreme lengths, like trying to exterminate all the “weaker sections” to rid the world of all their evils — stupidity, poverty, forced prostitution … . Think Hitler. Now, according to our author friend, all this testing business is some sort of giant conspiracy involving people of this sort to establish the social hierarchy they desire — as biased tests imply poor scores for the black people, poor scores imply a lack of earning potential, lack of earning implies poverty, and poverty, by definition, leads to poor test scores repeating the vicious cycle.

Enough, that’s about all I can take.

You know why tests are bad? They’re bad because you cannot test “how much or little a kid learnt” over months and years in something like a couple of hours. And even given more time, you definitely cannot really test them over a broad enough spectrum to honestly evaluate how much they know. They’re bad because when you’re young, you should be out playing and exercising your creativity and curiosity, not cramming for some algebra test. They’re bad because they have so much riding on their outcome, that some kids cannot take the pressure (one no kid should ever be subject to in the first place) and end up cracking. They are bad because they attempt to force kids to learn in a very unnatural way. Kids are inherently curious, infinitely creative and naturally absorb anything thrown their way. The only inhibitor here is you forcing things down their throats threatening consequences of a bad test score.

Tests are not bad because some sets of people do them worse than others. It’s the same test. It is just as hard for everyone. If one set constantly does worse than the others, there is only one explanation — They are inferior, intellectually.

I will not go as far as to say, and therefore do not deserve to exist.

I’m too lazy to bag my own groceries.

*Instead, of course, I ended up writing most of this piece.

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