Journal of Education & Social Policy

ISSN 2375-0782 (Print) 2375-0790 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/jesp

Breaking Down the Gold Standard of Education
Robert Karaba

For many educators and policy makers Herbert Spencer’s famous question, “What knowledge is most worth knowing? has been answered, seemingly by default: education is about increasing a student’s cognitive capability as measured by their performance on standardized tests, so that economic development may occur. That economic development can occur either nationally or individually (through social mobility). This paper reviews and combines the recent empirical evidence for the connection between standardized test scores and both individual social mobility and national economic performance. Counter intuitively, whether test scores cause, predict, or at a minimum correlate to one’s individual social mobility and/or a nation’s economic performance is highly questionable. The paper concludes suggesting we rethink the central aim of education as increasing performances on standardized tests.

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