Specialization in the SAT: The Math Portion Should Only Test Math Skills

Notes by Howard Gardner

Standard tests of scholarship (including IQ tests) typically tap linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences. In fact, students who are strong in these intelligences are likely to do well on tests, and in school. As long as they stay in school, they will think they are smart!

We now know that at the extremes of abilities, linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence are quite distinct.

In other words, having high linguistic intelligence does not predict high logical mathematical intelligence or vice versa.

As this article points out, it is very important not to confound these two forms of intelligence.  Accordingly, tests of mathematical intelligence are not reliable if they require linguistic sophistication.

If we feel the need to test for individual intelligences, we should make sure that we do so in as ‘pure’ a form as possible.

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.