The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy by Nicholas Lemann | 9780374527518 | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy

The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy

by Nicholas Lemann
     
 

ISBN-10: 0374527512

ISBN-13: 9780374527518

Pub. Date: 11/28/2000

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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

Overview

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780374527518
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
11/28/2000
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
1,269,346
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents

Foreword to the Paperback Editionvii
Book 1The Moral Equivalent of Religion
1.Henry Chauncey's Idea3
2.The Glass Slipper17
3.Native Intelligence27
4.The Natural Aristocracy42
5.Victory53
6.IQ Joe70
7.The Census of One Ability81
8.The Standard Gauge96
9.In the System109
10.Meritocracy115
Book 2The Master Plan
11.Rah! Rah! Rah!125
12.Chauncey at Yale140
13.The Negro Problem155
14.The Fall of Clark Kerr166
15.The Invention of the Asian-American174
16.Mandarins185
17.The Weak Spot198
18.Working212
19.The Fall of William Turnbull218
Book 3The Guardians
20.Behind the Curtain235
21.Berkeley Squeezed241
22.Molly's Crisis255
23.The Case of Winton Manning268
24.Surprise Attack278
25.No Retreat293
26.The Fundis and the Realos300
27.Changing Sides309
28.Defeat323
Epilogue337
Afterword to the Paperback Edition: A Real Meritocracy342
Notes352
Acknowledgments391
Index395

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