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ERIC Number: ED498982
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Nov
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
The Positive Uses of Contradiction. Carnegie Perspectives
Bond, Lloyd
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
The writer looks at the often contradictory ways in which tests are seen and used. We are told by its defenders that the SAT is a superb measure of academic promise, but its detractors insist that it is next to useless in helping colleges and universities select their entering class. Test-driven accountability systems have been criticized as counterproductive, and praised as the best solution yet to failing schools. Teachers insist that externally imposed standardized tests distort instruction, but public officials and policy makers maintain that well-constructed, curriculum-related examinations are the only reliable and valid alternative to inflated grades. Commercial coaching schools, not to mention students and their parents, insist that coaching on admissions tests is highly effective and can raise student scores by hundreds of points; but test developers maintain that coaching results in only minimal score gains over and above regular instruction in school. Their defenders insist that certification and licensure tests ensure standards of quality and protect the public from incompetent practitioners, but critics insist that performance on such tests is unrelated to professional success and competence. And one of the most controversial of all, test critics insist that standardized tests are culturally biased against minorities and the poor, while test developers insist that their tests fairly reflect genuine differences in academic preparedness that are the result of unequal educational opportunity. Bond concludes that, in spite of such apparent disparity of opinion, such contradictions may in fact serve to bring parties together and to induce in all a certain tension, a sense that they could, in fact, be wrong, discouraging complacency on the part of test developers and users is to be discouraged, and a defeatist conviction on the part of students that their educational future is foreclosed by implacably biased tests that cannot be mastered.
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. 51 Vista Lane, Stanford, CA 94305. Tel: 650-566-5102; Fax: 650-326-0278; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Menlo Park, CA.
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: SAT (College Admission Test)