Testing Absurdities

Independence Public Schools
Independence, Connecticut

To: 1st grade Teachers
From: Miss Kathleen Winston
Director of Guidance and Testing
Date: November 21, 1963
Re: Kuhlman-Anderson Intelligence Testing

This test will not be an easy one to give. It is not that the directions are so complicated, but rather that every item on the test is finely timed. Unfortunately there are no stop watches available for the classroom teachers. It is suggested that you use an alternative method for timing as follows: count to yourself, one-ten thousandths, two-ten thousandths, three-ten thousandths, and so on. If these words are said at a fairly quick but even and comfortable pace, the amount of time elapsed between one and two will be one second. Perhaps you have a sweep hand on some clock whereby you could test yourself before you give the test.

Suggestions for administering…

Good luck!

I found this “one ten-thousandths, two ten-thousandths” memo while weeding out files accumulated by former principals. I could not believe that the school district had previously been administering standardized group intelligence testing to 1st graders. I had a mental picture of first grade teachers metamorphosed into human stop watches as their anxious six year olds were apprehensively marking hand-scoreable record booklets.

The Kuhlmann-Anderson (Frederick and Rose) test, developed in the 1920s, was a 50 minute group test with mostly non-verbal test items in the early grades. The “experts” claimed that the Kuhlmann-Anderson correlated well with school performance and other intelligence tests. I maintain that Frederick’s and Rose’s test, along with other such group intelligence tests (Slosson, Otis-Lennon, etc.), do nothing more than categorize, classify and pigeonhole youngsters who are too young to protect themselves from the limits imposed upon them by mostly well meaning adults--adults who place more faith in mass testing than in their own observations and judgments. In fact, very little has changed since 1927 when Rose and Frederick copyrighted their test which hundreds of millions of test detesters have endured during the past four generations.

The testing mania in today’s schools generated by the NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND federal legislation has led to new levels of distrusting teacher judgment, draining of teachers’ creative energies and robbing children of hours during which they could be actively and passionately engaged in constructive educational pursuits.

Excerpted from:
Teaching as an Act of Love: Thoughts and Recollections
of a Former Teacher, Principal and Kid
© 2007 Richard Lakin