Additional Readings and Background on Standardized Testing

The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy, by Nicholas Lemann, details for the first time the ideas, the people, and the politics behind a fifty-year-old utopian social experiment that changed modern America. The experiment was to use the then-young science of intelligence testing to assess and sort American students in order to create a new democratic elite that would lead postwar America to progress, strength, and prosperity. But the new system turned out profoundly different from its founders' intentions.

The Shape of the River: Long-Term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions, by William G. Bowen and Derek C. Bok, details the first attempt to objectively assess the consequences of race-sensitive policies using statistical evidence. companion Web site to the FRONTLINE film "Secrets of the SAT"-takes visitors inside the admissions screening process at one elite university, giving them a chance to review, rate, and view outcomes of actual admission applications. In addition, a wealth of background information regarding the SAT's role in the national debate over diversity and equal access to education is provided, including a report on a thirty-year study of what affirmative action admission policies reveal; an historical timeline of challenges to race-sensitive admissions policies; analysis, statistics, and reports on the booming SAT prep business; analysis and reports on "What does the SAT Measure?"; a discussion on the black-white test score gap; and a downloadable version of this guide and enhanced video clips.

The National Center for Fair & Open Testing ( is an advocacy organization that places special emphasis on eliminating the racial, class, gender, and cultural barriers to equal opportunity posed by standardized tests and preventing their influence on the quality of education. Based on four Goals and Principles, Fairtest provides information, technical assistance, and advocacy on a broad range of testing concerns, focusing on three areas: K-12, university admissions, and employment tests, including teacher testing.