The standardized test industry has recently experienced some rough times in the United States, hasn’t it? The federal Department of Education and various trade associations, for instance, has repeatedly criticized many of the grade school testing requirements of the Bush Administration’s landmark No Child Left Behind law. And critics continue to complain about the inadequacies and failures of college admission examinations.
But did you know that many prestigious grade school, kindergarten, and “pre-k” (i.e. nursery school) programs in the United States also require standardized admission tests? The Association of Boarding Schools and the Education Records Bureau sponsor the Early Childhood Admissions Assessment (ECAA) examination for very young children.
Last week, however, the Independent School Admissions Association of Greater New York announced that some of the Big Apple’s most renowned private schools would no longer require the examination. The reason? Too many parents are spending thousands of dollars on test preparation services for their toddlers, creating “a lot of anxiety in families and kids that is unnecessary.”
The unspoken implication, of course, is that the tests have also become ineffective indicators of natural student ability. After all, examination grades that can be improved by expensive test preparation services inevitably discriminate against individuals who cannot afford to purchase such services.
One can only wonder whether other industry sectors will face similar concerns as well. For instance, if the newly emerging universal health care program in the United States is unable to rely on purportedly unbiased measurements of medical efficacy, it will struggle to serve the needs of the American people.
At the moment, though, America’s toddlers aren’t worried about universal health care. They are merely breathing sighs of relief about escaping their first experiences with school admission tests!