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Let’s Have Better Debates About Standardized Tests

March 11, 2024

Reasonable people can come to different conclusions about the proper role of standardized testing, what qualities should be measured and how to measure them. Those debates are healthy and productive. It’s less productive when we stake out our positions without giving opposing arguments a fair hearing. Even worse are our tendencies to misrepresent opposing views.

Akil Bello’s recent piece “The Misguided War on Test Optional” illustrates this problem. Consider the way Bello misrepresents opposing views. Bello, who advocates for test-optional admission policies, describes one opponent as having published a “loving ode to elitism.” Supporters of standardized tests, in his account, “tend to look not at whom the tests hurt or what the tests miss but instead their sorting power.” Their core arguments against test-optional and other policies assume that “the purpose of college is to rank and sort members of society” and that the tools for doing so “should exist unquestioned in perpetuity.”

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