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Abstract

According to the Educational Policies Commission, the central purpose of education in this country is to lead students to develop the ability to think. No standard way exists to measure whether or not the schools are achieving that purpose. The EPC identified 10 rational powers as constituting the essence of the ability to think. The research reported here was done to ascertain which rational powers are measured by commercially-available, standardized tests in science. A universe of standardized tests was defined and 12 specific tests were randomly selected for analysis. All instruments were validated by a panel of experts, as was a training program for the four teacher-evaluators who applied previously-evaluated criteria to each test item to determine which rational powers had to be used in responding to the item. Seven of the 12 standardized tests analyzed in the research required that students use only the rational power of recall in responding. In fact, approximately 90% of the items analyzed from all tests required only recall. Students were required to use other rational powers only rarely when responding to a test item and the use of the rational powers of comparing, imagining, and analyzing was not necessary on any of the test items examined. The conclusion was drawn that the producers of standardized tests are not concerned with measuring student achievement of the rational powers.

The purpose which runs throught and strengthens all other educational purposes—; the common thread of education—; is the development of the ability to think.