Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘SAT test


Israel vs. No. 2 Pencils

As countless students around the world took the SAT a week ago, Palestinians from the West Bank could not join their ranks. The October SAT exam was cancelled for students in the West Bank: The Israeli authorities held the exams sent by the College Board for weeks, not releasing the tests to AMIDEAST’s office in Ramallah.

AMIDEAST is the only testing agency in the West Bank, serving over three hundred thousand Palestinian students. Yet Israel controls the flow of goods and people in and out of the ever-shrinking Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Israeli occupation impacts nearly every aspect of Palestinian life. In particular, the military occupation, illegal under international law, violates the basic right to education for Palestinian youth.

This SAT cancellation has been devastating for high school seniors across the West Bank who were planning to apply to college in the United States—including those from the Ramallah Friends School. As alumni of the school, we are proud of its emphasis on global citizenship. RFS has a rich history in Palestine. It was established in 1869 by American Quakers and has since been certified by the International Baccalaureate Organization in Switzerland. About half of RFS students are Palestinian Muslims and the other half are Palestinian Christians—the latter are descendants of the very first Christian community. We have been nurtured by values of peace, nonviolence, social justice, and equality—principles to which many Palestinian families are deeply committed.

Many Palestinians go on to the best universities across the United States each year, including Harvard. Recently, Harvard College admitted three individuals from RFS alone in one year. After graduating from college, many RFS graduates and their peers from other Palestinian schools return to Palestine because of the strong connection we feel to our homeland. We are eager to use the knowledge and skills we have gained abroad to help build a brighter future for the coming generations.

The College Board has announced that it will attempt to schedule a make-up test for those students who were supposed to take the October SAT. AMIDEAST suggested in an email that the tests were held because of an “administrative delay.” According to Michael Madormo, English teacher and Director of the College Preparatory Academy at RFS, “the SAT cancellation has been disheartening since it seems that the Israelis had the exams for weeks and despite efforts by UPS, ETS [Educational Testing Service], and AMIDEAST, the tests were not passed through customs.”

Palestinians have suffered from such profound lack of sovereignty for decades now. This latest SAT episode is merely a symptom of systematic attacks on Palestinian education.  During the first Intifada, Palestinian educational institutions were deemed illegal by the Israeli occupation forces, and our parents were forced to hold clandestine classrooms in churches, mosques, and private homes. During the second Intifada, RFS was directly affected by the bombing of a next door police station by the Israeli military and students were unable to attend school due to Israeli blockades and curfews. One of the authors of this article, Lena Awwad, could not attend RFS for three years due to extensive Israeli checkpoints, which prevented her from reaching school. By depriving this year’s RFS seniors the ability to take the SAT, and more broadly hurting Palestinian education, Israel is jeopardizing the academic trajectories of future leaders.

The Israeli policy of bulldozing and destroying Palestinian schools continues unabated. Israeli settlers in the West Bank harass and violently abuse Palestinian schoolchildren—and the hundreds of humiliating checkpoints, Israeli settler-only roads, and the apartheid wall significantly impede freedom of movement for Palestinians and the right to access school. Additionally, Palestinian academic institutions such as Birzeit University find it tremendously difficult to secure basic resources and supplies for their students such as books from abroad. Yet Palestinians are an incredibly resilient people. Despite the assault we face on our right to education and on our livelihoods in general, Palestinians have among the highest literacy ratesin the Arab world and the region’s highest doctorates per capita.

It is daunting for us to explain the struggle of our families and nation under Israeli military occupation. It is difficult for others to imagine being prevented from taking an exam or, more importantly, to imagine having one’s right to education severely impinged upon because of a foreign occupying power. Palestinian voices are missing from mainstream discourse in the U.S. because of unconditional and blind support for Israel. Many Americans are conditioned to believe that Israeli policies are justified responses to security concerns. This raises the question, then, of what the SAT has to do with Israeli security. And this begs the additional question of when the right to basic human security will be recognized for Palestinians—a people that has been defenseless and stateless for far too long.

We hope that relentless Israeli policies enforced on our peers leading to the SAT cancellation will not impede their college application processes, and look forward to welcoming yet another group of Palestinians to Harvard in the fall.

Lena K. Awwad ’13 is a neurobiology concentrator in Winthrop House. Shatha I. Hussein ’14 is a government concentrator in Eliot House.

Low IQ Prisoner: Studied, raised the score, found eligible to death row! What is this IQ score?

The story goes: murderers with low IQ of 70 or less are not sent to death row on the premise that they are too dumb to premeditate or consciously plan any murder.

A low IQ prisoner was sentenced to life; he studied and managed to score 10 more points, and thus was eligible for death sentence to be executed: He was no longer an irresponsible brain dead individual!

IQ and SAT scores are used as scapegoats in many decisions, programs, and policies to hire, fire, accept or reject applicants.  Institutions that demand IQ or SAT scores know by now that they don’t measure intelligence and that these tests lack predictive values and capabilities for mental performance.

And yet, these tests are used “to pick the best of the crop” on the basis that the grades of students in their institution will inevitably be higher than most institutions no matter how mediocre is their curriculum or their teachers.  Standardized tests of these kinds are multi-billion businesses and encouraged by governments.

The first version of IQ test was created by the French Alfred Binet at the instigation of a government commission.  The purpose was to sorting out children in need of special attention and particular forms of schooling. Binet was appalled when his IQ test was adopted for quantifying intelligence, especially by the military during WWI for selecting pilots.  He wrote: “A few thinkers are affirming that an individual’s intelligence is a fixed quantity that cannot be increased.  We must protest and react against this brutal pessimism; we must try to demonstrate that this conjecture is founded on nothing.”

The American eugenics Lewis Terman of Stanford University published a revised version of the Binet test in 1916 and known as the Stanford-Binet test.  What was the ideology of Terman?

He wrote: “Among laboring men and servant girls thousands are feeble-minded.  They are the world hewers of wood and drawers of water…No amount of school instruction will ever make them intelligent voters.  The fact that one meets this type with such frequency among Indians, Mexicans, and negroes suggest quite forcibly the whole question of racial differences in mental traits will have to be taken up anew and by experimental methods.  From a eugenics point of view, their children constitute a grave problem because of their prolific breeding.”

A eugenic individual believes that:

1. mankind is divided into intelligent races and stupid subcategories that only practical instruction might improve their efficiency on the chain production, and

2. second, that intelligence is an innate trait with fixed level for improvement, and third that ethnic minorities with dishonorable IQ scores should be neutered by law…

The military institutions are the ones that initiate and fund such standardized tests for the purpose of classifying applicant officers to the air force, navy, or artillery schools; the barely “intelligent” potential officers are relegated to infantry.

For example, Carl Brigham, another eugenic, invented the SAT at the instigation of the military 7 decades ago.The irony is that Carl Brigham disowned the test 5 years later and was no longer a believer in eugenics; but the SAT test evolved a life of its own and it is at its 5th version.

The elite universities and private schools demand some kind of standardized tests of “intelligence”.

John Katzman, founder of Princeton Review, wrote: “SAT creates a shadow curriculum that does not further the goals of education or students:  SAT scores are irrelevant to what the student studied in high school.  SAT does not measure intelligence or verify high school GPA, and it is a poor predictor of college grades.”

In my PhD experiment, I made use of one of the IQ test versions as a smokescreen to distracting the first year psychology students from the real purpose of the experiment.  All you have to do is mention that the test evaluate their level of intelligence in order to capture their motivation.  Actually, the test could be relevant with people endowed with visual capability for discriminating shapes and a modicum of logic.

There is this test developed by two women, mother and daughter and not specialist in psychology, called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) that supposedly box an individual into one of 16 psychological categories on the dimensions of (energy attitude, perception, judgement, orientation to life events) and on social behavior such as extrovert or introvert.

It is valid and I did submit to it voluntarily (you may read about my experience in my autobiography chapter on psychological testing).  I answered hundred of questions for over two hours; I had to give an answer to every question, even if  I had no idea what it meant.   The result was that I was borderline in all psychological categories and the graduate psychology student had no interpretation and referred me to attend sessions with very emotionally disturbed students.

What about the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) test?

Supposedly, this “cognitive” assessment test will demonstrate what is dominant in your brain such as the left analytic brain, the left lymbic hemisphere, the right brain and the right lymbic hemisphere).  The left brain is for collecting data, how things work…, the right lymbic is for organizing and following directions…The right brain is for looking at the big picture and understanding metaphor… The right limbic is for expressing ideas and seeking personal meaning…

In short, all these tests implicitly encourage eugenics ideologists and these tests are being disseminated and applied worldwide, setting the stage for further attempts to laws that would institute racial elimination as world population grows to 9 billion within 30 years.

Note:  A chapter in “The element” by Ken Robinson made it easier for me to write this post.




January 2023

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