An interesting article in the Sunday New York Times about how test performance is affected by social and psychological factors.

Our public policy today seems built on the assumption that standardized tests accurately measure what was taught and learned. Teachers and most test experts know how fallible the tests are.

The author, Annie Murphy Paul, concludes:

This research has important implications for the way we educate our children. For one thing, we should replace high-stakes, one-shot tests with the kind of unobtrusive and ongoing assessments that give teachers and parents a more accurate sense of children’s true abilities. We should also put in place techniques for reducing anxiety and building self-confidence that take advantage of our social natures. And we should ensure that the social climate at our children’s schools is one of warmth and trust, not competition and exclusion.