Standardized testing and the status of children's intellectual rights

by Tora K. Bikson

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Argues that children's intellectual rights are denied by U.S. public education which has discouraged curiosity, creativity, active investigation, and responsible dialog, replacing these with a virtual despotism over the contents and processes of learning. This paper reviews educational literature to corroborate this thesis and to suggest what its consequences are. The U.S. education system is investing some $300 million annually on standardized testing which assumes intellectual competence is causally related to verbal competence. This testing excludes from evaluation such higher cognitive processes as abstract reasoning and problem solving. In the case of lower status children, not only are desirable outcomes suppressed by such educating but adverse ones promoted. Higher status children who fare well on achievement scales also suffer from an education system which defines cognitive advance in terms of knowing the answers and presenting them properly. That type of learning does not develop the kinds of competencies required of adults in a free and highly developed society.

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