Big Test The Secret History of the American Meritocracy

ISBN-10: 0374527512
ISBN-13: 9780374527518
Edition: 2000
Authors: Nicholas Lemann
List price: $18.00 Buy it from $1.39
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Description: What do we know about the history, origin, design, and purpose of the SAT? Who invented it, and why? How did it acquire such a prominent and lasting position in American education? The Big Test reveals the ideas, people, and politics behind a  More...

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Book details

List price: $18.00
Copyright year: 2000
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Publication date: 11/16/2000
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 416
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.00" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 0.946
Language: English

What do we know about the history, origin, design, and purpose of the SAT? Who invented it, and why? How did it acquire such a prominent and lasting position in American education? The Big Test reveals the ideas, people, and politics behind a fifty-year-old utopian social experiment that changed this country. Combining vibrant storytelling, vivid portraiture, and thematic analysis, Lemann shows why this experiment did not turn out as planned. It did create a new elite, but it also generated conflict and tension—and America's best educated, most privileged people are now leaders without followers. Drawing on unprecedented access to the Educational Testing Service’s archives, Lemann maintains that America’s meritocracy is neither natural nor inevitable, and that it does not apportion opportunity equally or fairly. His important study not only asks profound moral and political questions about the past and future of our society but also carries implications for current social and educational policy. As Brent Staples noted in his New York Times editorial column: “Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts announced that prospective students would no longer be required to submit SAT scores with their applications. . . . Holyoke's president, Joanne Creighton, was personally convinced by reading Nicholas Lemann's book, The Big Test, which documents how the SAT became a tool for class segregation.” All students of education, sociology, and recent U.S. history—especially those focused on testing, theories of learning, social stratification, or policymaking—will find this book fascinating and alarming.

Nicholas Lemann, a native of New Orleans, developed an interest in journalism during his teenage years. This eagerness to write was coupled with a keen interest in United States history and literature. He pooled his curiosities, earning a degree in American literature and history from Harvard University in 1976. Journalism became Lemann's main occupation, as he built his writing career through working for the Washington Monthly, Texas Monthly, and the Washington Post. In 1983, he joined the Atlantic Monthly staff. His love for American history peaked with the publication of his commentary on the African-American migration to Chicago in search of jobs and a better life. Lemann's book, The Promised Land, captured the 1991 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in journalism. His articles span many interests, from book reviews and political topics to travel stories about the Catskill Mountains and other natural wonders. He contributes many articles, not only to the Atlantic Monthly but to several other magazines as well. Nicholas Lemann, his wife Dominique Browning, and their two sons live in New York City.

Foreword to the Paperback Edition
The Moral Equivalent of Religion
Henry Chauncey's Idea
The Glass Slipper
Native Intelligence
The Natural Aristocracy
Victory
IQ Joe
The Census of One Ability
The Standard Gauge
In the System
Meritocracy
The Master Plan
Rah! Rah! Rah!
Chauncey at Yale
The Negro Problem
The Fall of Clark Kerr
The Invention of the Asian-American
Mandarins
The Weak Spot
Working
The Fall of William Turnbull
The Guardians
Behind the Curtain
Berkeley Squeezed
Molly's Crisis
The Case of Winton Manning
Surprise Attack
No Retreat
The Fundis and the Realos
Changing Sides
Defeat
Epilogue
Afterword to the Paperback Edition: A Real Meritocracy
Notes
Acknowledgments
Index

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