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Standardized test

As wealthy parents rush to hire teachers for private instruction while those with limited financial barriers choose to take time off from school, the extent of educational inequity in the United States is more apparent than ever. Yet, such inequities are not new — they are evident throughout the development of one of the most fundamental facets of U.S. education: standardized testing. The modern field of testing found its roots here at Stanford, where eugenics shaped the notion of meritocracy, and intellectual measurement systems advertised as “objective” were designed to reinforce the social order.

Racist and Classist Roots

The inception of standardized tests in the Western world can be traced back to the Industrial Revolution and the progressive movement of the early 19th century. With these changes came a growing emphasis on education and an accompanying need to assess students on a larger scale. For Alfred Binet, the French psychologist who conceptualized the intelligence quotient (IQ), the central goal was to identify students in need of assistance by evaluating their intellectual abilites.

“Binet introduced the IQ test as a response... see more