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The Testing Bubble Getting Artistic with Standardized-Test Answer Sheets

Increasingly, multiple-choice tests are how schools measure what students have learned. But where does that leave creativity? We sent answer sheets to five artists to find out.

The seventh-century Chinese emperor Yangdi is usually remembered as a megalomaniac who led his newly united nation into a series of debilitating wars. But Yangdi’s real legacy is his development of the world’s first standardized testing system. The idea was to locate China’s most talented rural scholars and bring them into the nascent empire’s civil service.

The history of education is filled with such earnest, progressive hopes for stan- dardized testing; Napoleon built the French bureaucracy in much the same way, and the SAT, for all its flaws, played an important role in opening up the Ivy League to Jews, Catholics, and public-school students.

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