Educational science, mental testing, and the ideology of intelligence
Down, B. (2006) Educational science, mental testing, and the ideology of intelligence. Melbourne Studies in Education , 47 (1/2). p. 333.
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In Australia, 'testing mania' currently dominates the conservative Coalition Government's educational agenda. The current Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Dr Kemp, argues that comprehensive reporting based on standardised testing 'is a necessary concomitant of informed parental choice'.3 In his view, there are 'direct connections between low levels of literacy, behavioural problems in the classroom, the likelihood that a student will finish formal education before Year 12, and the likelihood of being unemployed after leaving school'.4 This new testing culture is evident in the development and implementation of the national literacy surveys, the various State-based standardised tests (Basic Skills Test) and the national literacy and numeracy benchmarks.5 As Apple reminds us, such initiatives cannot be divorced from the broader 'conservative restoration' (privatisation, centralisation, vocationaiisation, and differentiation) advocated by the political right and proponents of the back-to-basics movement such as Kemp.6 What we are witnessing, in the words of Welch, 'is a moral-political campaign to wrest control of society from supporters of tolerance, difference and democratic self expression and return it to those who hanker for a more monolithic, certain and authoritarian world'.
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