2010–2023 Writings
by Michelle Margaret Fajkus

Measuring Intelligence

Written in


The school system was built on the notion of measuring intelligence and its connection to productivity (later termed achievement). The IQ test was invented by Alfred Binet during the Industrial Revolution to determine who would profit from education (and in turn, turn more profit for the factories—the owners of the factories).

Now that we are in an Era of Information or the Age of Intuition, don’t you think it’s time to analyze not test results but the results of testing? 

Test scores may reveal (to an extent) an ability to understand ideas and how the test-taker processes information (or do they reveal the ability to recall information or simply an ability to take tests?) but they cannot capture creativity or accurately grasp growth. Certainly, a test can’t determine how successful or happy someone is or will be later in life (though the results may unintentionally reflect and perhaps intentionally affect motivation levels and socio-economic statuses.)

Really, it’s the tests that are failing to meet their objectives. Unless the objective of testing is to create competition and an illusion of success based on numerical, and therefore measurable “progress,” thereby creating an upper and a lower class to support the economy (another illusion based on numbers and “progress”).

In the process, the results of testing are negative for most (if not all students) – yes, even for the ones who are skilled test-takers. The system’s emphasis on test results results in suffering not only for the student who is labeled with a learning disability (often a label that no amount of extra time, support and resources can undo) but also for the “high-achieving” student who is labeled “gifted” and is socially alienated or fast-tracked through life as a result. Test scores, even in the hands of a university registrar or employer, do not determine someone’s right to a good life; good grades can help, but they are not the only way to access opportunities.

– adapted from Lesson 16 of I am Intelligence

What do you think? Can intelligence be measured? If so, what do we have to gain by quantifying it? Do we lose anything in the process? How do tests affect student and teacher motivation levels and impact the relationships between students, teachers and parents? What are your hopes and fears around testing or not-testing? How and why do you access your students? 

No More Tests by Timlewisnm
No More Tests by Timlewisnm

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