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The College Entrance Examination Board is currently considering a program of tests designed to measure developed ability, irrespective of systematic, or specific, secondary school training.
Created by the Educational Testing Service, an independent research organization in Princeton, the new examinations combine the essential features of the present aptitude and achievement tests, and include essay questions.
William E. Coffman, associate director of the test development division of the ETS, explained yesterday that the College Board has not yet acted on the proposed program. He estimated 1958 as the earliest time that the tests might be given on a fairly large-scale experimental basis.
Noting the increasing size of the CEEB, Coffman cited the long-standing need for tests that could identify competence while at the same time avoiding the assumption of a common curriculum among the varied types of schools whose students take the examinations.
"We don't particularly care how they develop their talent," he added.
Recently designed tests of developed ability in the social sciences, humanities, and sciences are presently undergoing extensive study. Definitive data is expected for late May.
From results of experimental tests administered to over 3,000 secondary school seniors in 42 different schools and 5,000 college freshmen in 11 different colleges, Coffman has tentatively concluded that the tests are more effective than the aptitude tests in predicting success in the different major fields.
He added, however, that the exams "are not likely to improve our overall prediction of college success."
Coffman expressed hope that his group's detailed analysis of the test results will indicate that they are effective in identifying students with special abilities not now identified by the verbal and mathematical aptitude tests.
It is not known yet whether the tests in developed ability will replace or only supplement the current aptitude and achievement tests, if they prove effective.
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