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The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 1. Oktober 1999

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  • Gebundene Ausgabe: 406 Seiten
  • Verlag: Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc (1. Oktober 1999)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0374299846
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374299842
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 23,7 x 16,1 x 3,4 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 3.6 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (20 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 1.179.807 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
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Nicholas Lemann's The Big Test starts off as a look at how the SAT became an integral part of the college application process by telling the stories of men like Henry Chauncey and James Bryant Conant of Harvard University, who sought in the 1930s and '40s to expand their student base beyond the offspring of Brahmin alumni. When they went into the public schools of the Midwest to recruit, standardized testing gave them the means to select which lucky students would be deemed most suitable for an Ivy League education. But about a third of the way through the book, Lemann shifts gears and writes about several college students from the late '60s and early '70s. The reasons for the change-up only become clear in the final third, when those same college students, now in their 40s, lead the fight against California's Proposition 209, a 1996 ballot initiative aimed at eliminating affirmative action programs.

Do these two stories really belong together? For all his storytelling abilities--and they are prodigious--Lemann is not entirely persuasive on this point, especially when he identifies the crucial moment in the civil rights era when "affirmative action evolved as a low-cost patch solution to the enormous problem of improving the lot of American Negroes, who had an ongoing, long-standing tradition of deeply inferior education; at the same time American society was changing so as to make educational performance the basis for individual advancement." Lemann's muddled transition is somewhat obscured by frequent digressions (every new character gets a lengthy background introduction), but a crucial point gets lost in the shuffle, only to reappear fleetingly at the conclusion: "The right fight to be in was the fight to make sure that everybody got a good education," Lemann writes, not to continue to prop up a system that creates one set of standards for privileged students and another set for the less privileged. If The Big Test had focused on that issue, where equal opportunity is genuinely at stake, instead of on the roots of standardized testing, where opportunity was explicitly intended only for a chosen few, it would be a substantially different book--one with a story that almost assuredly could be told as engrossingly as the story Lemann chose to tell, but perhaps with a sharper focus. --Ron Hogan


“I use The Big Test in my Perspectives on Secondary Education class. It makes students come face-to-face with issues of race, class, and inequality in secondary education, and since everyone has taken ‘the big test,’ it really hits home.” —Susan Semel, Associate Professor, Hofstra University

“An engaging, enlightening historical analysis of the idea of the SAT, dramatized by the stories of the people who designed it, the students who benefited from it, and recent battles over standardized testing and affirmative action.”—Wendy Kaminer, The Boston Globe

“Engrossing . . . . The narrative of The Big Test is carried along by a string of life stories [that] once more display Nicholas Lemann's talent for distilling social analysis out of personal history.”—Alan Ryan, The New York Review of Books


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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Lemann is a perfect example of a Bleeding-Heart Politically Correct liberal - the sort of egalitarian maniac that strives to sacrifice the QUALITY of our society in the name of E-QUALITY.
What sickens me about books like these is that the author - prior to any research - has his own deeply entrenched biases that he merely seeks to validate by picking out "evidence" in a very selective manner.
Lemann's analysis of the SAT is so short on statistical and technical detail that it resembles a poet trying to write about advanced physics. His approach is downright subjective in many ways, and merely confirms my belief that PC liberals like himself are a plague on American society.
I happen to be an Asian-American student who scored perfect on the Math section of the SAT and also did very well on the Verbal section. But my success in life is far from guaranteed. No, the SAT is not the most important factor determining one's future. It's one of many things that college admission officials look at. And what I find weird about Lemann is that he thinks that success in life depends on going to a prestigious private university; it doesn't.
In this Politically Correct world, the liberals can't come to grips with the fact that people are not created equal. There are fundamental differences between individual persons as well as between the sexes and different races. Almost no one thought otherwise until Marxist and socialist ideas wormed their way into Western politics and intelligentsia.
Equality of opportunity is the only true opportunity there should be, and the United States offers more of that than the vast majority of countries in the world. Equality of results is not only unrealistic, but highly undesirable.
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Von Ein Kunde am 27. Februar 2000
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I'm not sorry to have read "The Big Test", but I expected much more policy analysis and moral light from the book than was shed. The first chapters outline the birth and underpinnings of the SAT and are slow going. One senses that an objective ability test was a step above the prep school WASP pipeline to Ivy League schools that the SAT tried to replace. The SAT was a boon to gifted students of the Baby Boom generation who attended public schools and came from a larger geographic area. Yet the irony emerges that the people who most benefitted from the perks they received due to high SAT scores were among its greatest critics. And this leads to a sustained discussion at the end of attempts to dismantle affirmative action which the author presents as an antidote to the high priority given to SAT scores. The two narrative threads do not connect very well and there seems to be a huge gap between the themes of the book. Some obvious points are missed: SAT scores are just one of many things admissions committee looks at to get a composite pictures of candidates; many people in America who don't attend Ivy League colleges are enormously successful and many who do live quiet lives of academic and economic desparation. The many mavericks who take off and succeed without prestiguous degrees is simply not discussed in this book. More often than not, employers look at what an applicant can do rather than transcripts (though admittedly it opens doors). One of our most popular Presidents, Ronald Reagan, graduated from podunk university and George W. Bush showed few intellectual gifts outside of his privileged family background. American culture holds a special place for those who take risks (like Bezos of Amazon.Lesen Sie weiter... ›
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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
The Big Test is not as I expected it to be, i.e. a profound expose of the Educational Testing Service and the unfairness of the SAT. It is however a revealing window into the process by which our elite universities have attempted to grapple with a self preserving desire to recruit the best and the brightest (and in private universities those most likely to provide alumni financial support) against a reality that their version of the best and the brightest (as measured by SAT scores) is not a sociologically neutral and colorblind polyglot of equally distributed talents.
Perhaps the most profound element of Nicholas Lemann's book is the realization that intelligence is often far more than the simple ability to think and reason as tested by the SAT. While these characteristics are often those which ensure success in the academic world, there are other equally important skills which the elite academic world virtually ignores, e.g. artistic and creative ability, leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, people skills, and good old common sense (attributes far more common to the group which Mr. Lemann calls the Talents.)
Nevertheless the distribution of the few positions available at the elite universities has become a battleground measured with far too much imprecision by the results of a single examination known as the SAT. Lemann notes that the distribution of these seats was formerly the "unfair" result of birth into wealthy and socially prominent families.
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