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How Can Schools Fix the 'Mania' of Achievement Testing?


This interview from Chicago Magazine highlights Professor Heckman's recently published book, The Myth of Achievement Tests: The GED and the Role of Character in American Life. Below is an excerpt of the interview:

There's always this view--I routinely ask people, what fraction of the variance, of the variability, in outcomes is explained by IQ. And most people say 50 percent, or 25 percent, or 30 percent. What do you think it is?
I'd say 20 percent.
Right, that's what people say. It's closer to four percent.... And these non-cognitive traits will play a comparable or even greater role....
What we're trying to do is to re-educate people from the education-school mentality of blind belief in test scores. And also the sense, as we have several chapters showing that if we take the GEDs as the high school equivalent, we delude ourselves in thinking that American society is doing better than it is. We ignore the fact that the introduction of the GED will actually create problems by inducing students to drop out. It's the easy way out, so they take it.

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