Howard Gardner Comments on Article Regarding Standardized Testing and Inequality in Schools

Notes by Howard Gardner

Recently, I received correspondence from Dr. Matthew Knoester of the University of Evansville. Dr. Knoester shared with me his article  "Standardized Testing and School Segregation: Like Tinder for Fire?" which can be found here.   In this piece, Knoester and Au review research on the effects of segregation and discuss how standardized testing is used to further facilitate racial segregation in schools today.

I agree generally with the critique presented in this article.  The problem as I see it is that many of our schools, at various levels, valorize the kinds of skills involved in standardized testing and so there is a vicious (or at least non virtuous) circle. I was once asked, by the deans of admission at several leading law schools, whether I could help change the LSAT. I terminated the conversation with one direct question:  “Are you willing to change what happens in Law School?”

Once we begin to truly value other kinds of skills and intelligences, then perhaps the veneration of ETS-style instruments will begin to give way to  a more nuanced and differentiated view of higher education.