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Standardized Tests

I  INTRODUCTION

Standardized Tests, exams designed to objectively measure the academic aptitude of students from varying social backgrounds and with different educational experience.

Students in the United States take standardized tests in elementary school, in high school, and at the undergraduate and graduate levels of higher education. Most standardized tests are administered through the Educational Testing Service (ETS) or the American College Testing (ACT) Program. Educational institutions use the results of standardized tests to evaluate a student’s academic performance, as well as to assess a high school or college student’s potential for undertaking an undergraduate or graduate degree program. More than 100 million tests are administered each year in the United States.

 

II  HISTORY

In 1900 a consortium of prestigious East Coast colleges and universities known as Ivy League schools formed the College Entrance Examination Board, or College Board. The College Board was designed to address the concerns of students who were required to take different entrance examinations for each college or university to which they applied. In 1901 the College Board began administering essay exams in a variety of subjects. The introduction of these exams enabled students to take a single set of exams when applying for admission to several different schools. In 1926 the College Board introduced a multiple-choice entrance examination called the Scholastic Aptitude Test, or SAT. The SAT had been developed in the 1920s by a commission headed by Princeton University psychologist Carl Brigham. It was modeled partly on the short-answer format of mental tests given to United States Army recruits during World War I (1914-1918) (see Intelligence: Creation of Group Tests). By the early 1940s most colleges and universities in the United States were using the SAT, in conjunction with school grades, to predict college performance and determine admission.

In 1937 the Cooperative Graduate Testing Program, a division of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, introduced the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) to evaluate students applying for graduate degree programs. In 1947 the Carnegie Foundation, together with the College Board and the American Council on Education, created the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to administer both the SAT and the GRE. By the 1960s the ETS was the central administrator of educational testing in the United States. It had also expanded its role to include the administration of aptitude testing for elementary school students.

 

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