The SATS were literally invented by a eugenicist to uphold white supremacy

As Furious Styles said in 1991’s Boyz n the Hood, “those tests are culturally biased. The only universal part is the math.”


I’d have thought it best to ensure that whatever system you use, it doesn’t prove that racism is good.


I’m not sure that I agree that “the math” is universal. It seems to me that manipulating abstract symbols as opposed to taking a measurement for example is very much rooted in a particular cultural setting.

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Ancient Greece for many of the symbols and Ancient Islam for the algebra? I’m not sure how math which is basically universal (the symbols may change but the concepts are universal) can have more cultural bias than the English part which is filled with cultural bias.


In that if you live in a majority white, affluent community, you are more likely to have a firm foundation in mathematics. :woman_shrugging: And then there is a gender dynamics at play, too, where girls and boys start off on a level playing field, but as girls are socialized to believe that math isn’t “for girls” they do far less well at it.


Well, that’s certainly true. More money = more access to better education. No arguments here. I was speaking solely to the content of the questions themselves.

(FWIW I think standardized testing as a whole is a total sham anyway.)


Or the accountants office vs the electrician’s work site. Or even the Pure Math Department vs the Applied Math department. The point is that filling out the right bubble isn’t sufficient or necessary to evaluate an individual’s ability to get some quantitative solution because it assumes that the process whereby you might do that has nothing to do with the traditions by which you function in the world, when in fact they are intimately wrapped up.

I’ll certainly grant that the Verbal portion is much more culturally biased.


I’d argue you can’t separate out the socio-cultural aspects of standardized tests from the content. HOW testing is applied matters as much as what’s in a test.


I couldn’t agree with this point more. Standardized testing and many certifications are simply proof that you can pass the test. They don’t measure true qualifications or ability.

This hits home for me. I’m a professional software engineer but I’m also largely self taught. People can look down on my because of my lack of formal education or because I can’t code certain algorithms from scratch on a whiteboard since I never learned them in school. But fuck ‘em. I am good at my job and many of those things they learned in school will never be used outside of school unless they are specialized in a very specific field.


Right? Fuck those guys…

But we should very much not think of education as mere job training, and perhaps think of it as a means to improve our overall quality of life? This is why we don’t (as a society, not us as individuals) value the humanities as much as we should, because they are not seen as being helpful in “getting us a job”. But that’s not necessarily the only measure of a successful education.


Well, there you go. As I said, I was surprised at the phrasing, it just needed a little more unpacking, I guess.


I wouldn’t argue that the math is more culturally biased, but the way math questions are worded carries a lot of cultural weight. Example, my son had to take the PSAT so we did some sample tests. Several of the questions used imperial measurements (inches, ounces…). Since he’s Canadian he was completely at sea (we use, mostly, metric). What flummoxed him had nothing to do with the math and everything to do with the culture.


The tests may have failed to provide evidence supporting his theory, but they continue to serve their purpose of perpetuating privilege. That is as good of reason as any to get rid of them.


COVID may be the beginning of the end for them, due to the gap in testing and colleges removing them as a requirement for affected students.


I’m not necessarily defending the tests, I just have fond memories of taking them. It’s unclear to me how much real value they have in gauging a student’s intelligence.

And I’m talking about all the different aptitude tests we took prior to the SATs, all through grade school.

That said, I did also mention they should lose their importance. We treated them as if they were the biggest thing that mattered in our college applications, and they should definitely be diminished in value or severely revised, even if they aren’t completely discontinued.

This seems to make the opposite case. He invented the things to prove that whites were better but instead they measured everyone equally.

The problem with dumping testing as a means of evaluating students is that you end up back with the old problem of racist and sexist teachers who don’t even realize how their inherent biases are coloring their evaluations. Or teachers that just don’t want to put in the effort or hurt people’s feelings so everybody “passes” with roughly the same grade, regardless of the quality of their work or understanding of the material. And then next year those kids who didn’t learn the material are even further behind and become depressed and drop out.

“Gosh the girls are just never good at math are they? I mean she never speaks up in class, she’ll never get anywhere in the world of mathematics. Suzie gets a C.”


“That little [Black] child never shows up to class. Sure his homework is always 100% correct but he never pays attention in class and doesn’t even show up half of the time. Yeah he always knows the answer right away when I ask in class, but he’s probably cheating. D”.

Any school reform system that assumes the teachers and students will be excellent to each other and put in the work will look great on paper and fail in the real world. We try to be nice about it and not hurt people’s feelings, but at the end of the day there are a bunch of lazy teachers that will not do anything more than is absolutely required. Nor will they put any thought or care into their work. If your system doesn’t account for this it will fail. It’s like desiging a perfect elegant airplane that won’t work if there is wind resistance.


Those of my parents’ generation were fond of the SATs, because they could throw their own high scores back in their oppressors faces. Scoring high on a test was something one could do. That led to quotas and the “evaluating the whole person” excuse. Everyone knew what the latter was about.

The anti-standardized test thing was about Jews for a long time. Then it was about keeping out Americans of East Asian descent. The problem is that moving away from standardized tests opens lots of other opportunities for discrimination.

Personally, I think that relying exclusively on standardized tests is ridiculous, but any school that completely ignores them is also losing out. I don’t know how many kids I knew who had terrible grades, got into lots of trouble, but managed to shine on their standardized tests.


the funny thing is that when you take a test designed to measure raw intelligence and to minimize cultural bias (to whatever extent either of these things are possible) what they end up measuring is differences in spatial relationships. which is funny because excellence with spatial relationships correlates to success in classes like shop and home economics and has nothing to do with language and math. but then that means that the burnouts in wood shop or the plebs cooking and sewing the best are the smartest, which is not a narrative the higher-education industry has any interest in promoting.

also interesting is that there aren’t any time limits on IQ-type tests.


But they don’t.

That’s a problem right now.

That happens right now (although less than when I was in school, but it still happens).

How about don’t do that? There isn’t really any reason to use that, even in this context. Because no teacher, even one with unexamined bias would talk like that, for one.

If you think a level playing field exists for students of color and white students, then you’re not paying attention to education as it actually exists in America.


How the fuck do you figure that?