Your Lying Eyes

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05 May 2006

Just One Word: Psychometrics

According to the Times, one of the hottest new fields is psychometrics. The new emphasis on testing due to No Child Left Behind and other initiatives has left private testing services and government in short supply of the kind of people who can formulate and make sense of these tests - psychometricians. So if you know any bright kids in college you might want to pass the word - they can make some serious coin.

One positive side effect that might accrue from a burgeoning psychometrics profession would be to expand the number of elite professionals who understand the distribution of intelligence in our society. People whose job is to painstakingly construct bias-free tests and then to analyze test results are not likely to be blind to the intractable nature of intelligence differences among major demographic groups. This should help - at least marginally - to inject some realism into some of our policy debates.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christ, what a meaningless job.

May 05, 2006 4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only a certain number of kids can pass a real test. That, however, is not the promise of No Child Left Behind." NCLB implies we can educate all kids up to the same high level.

Consequently, the task of psychometricians is to come up with a test that looks real and everyone can ace.

"Everyone has won and all must have prizes."

Richard

May 07, 2006 2:32 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

Consequently, the task of psychometricians is to come up with a test that looks real and everyone can ace.

Do you think they will believe their own lies, or know what they're doing is phony?

May 08, 2006 7:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ziel,

If the paycheck is large enough, they can at least hire a therapist who will help them to accept any doublethink required.

In the corrupt state I live in, all my life politicians and pundits have been feeding us stuff that is unbelievable and I know of no cases where someone has killed themself because they could no longer live with the lies.

So the short answer to the question:

"Do you think they will believe their own lies, or know what they're doing is phony?"

is I don't know, but they will live with it.

I vaguely remember in Orwell's essay about his early education how all the kid's would suck up to the headmaster's wife even though in a core of honesty, they knew they hated her. Adult life is different?


Richard

May 08, 2006 8:13 AM  
Blogger Psychogeek said...

"Only a certain number of kids can pass a real test. That, however, is not the promise of No Child Left Behind." NCLB implies we can educate all kids up to the same high level.

Consequently, the task of psychometricians is to come up with a test that looks real and everyone can ace.

Do you think they will believe their own lies, or know what they're doing is phony?"

Not to be rude, but these comments show a lack of understanding in how most NCLB tests work. These tests are criterion-based tests, rather than norm-referenced tests. That means that if a child meets the standards (local and state), set by teachers... real people, not math geeks, then the kid passes. So, if your state's standards are too low, then yes, everybody passes. But the feds do check to see where your standards are, and the rigorous process of peer review seems to weed out the states that try to pull a fast one.

I agree that the unrealistic part of NCLB is to expect that all kids will get to the same highest standards. However, perhaps different standards for different kids (i.e., the alternate assessments that many states have for the spec. ed. population), may be helpful in making appropriate decisions about "success/failure".

The "phony" part of test building is when the state tells a psychometrician to do something unethical, or does something to look good to the voters.

May 09, 2006 12:13 PM  
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