Discussion Question #3 – Standardized Tests: Are They Fair?


The question of whether there exists in each person a general intellectual capacity that can be measured and quantified as a number is surrounded by heated controversy. From school boards to courts to science, the debate on the usefulness and fairness of intelligence tests has been extensive and is likely to continue. Some people wonder if intelligence tests are a viable means to rank individuals and to determine whether to admit them to a particular college or to hire them in a particular employment capacity. Many people also wonder if groups differ in native intelligence, and if intelligence is a single general ability or several distinct abilities.

Research has concluded that humans indeed possess multiple types of intelligence, and that people vary in their intellectual capacities to a degree individually. However, there is no difference that can actually be attributed to ethnicity, so-called race, or skin color. Being in a particular group does not determine one’s level of intelligence; rather, intelligence potential is determined by a person’s genes as handed down from his/her parents. In addition, it would seem impossible to prove that one group of people could be more intelligent than any other due to the fact that people have adapted to different environments successfully all over the world.

In many countries, to gain entry into college, the military, and many civilian positions, applicants are required to take a standardized test to measure their abilities–both actual and perceived. The science behind standardized tests appears to be fairly solid, with their use supported by decades of conclusive research, yet some people see these tests serving a darker purpose. For them, the tests actually could be potent discriminatory weapons just disguised as science. Do you agree, or not?