For years, the left has insisted that student loans are a crisis, that student loan debt is too high, that students are saddled with too much debt and too few prospects, and that students don’t leave college with skills employers are seeking. Even if the left is right and we do have a student loan problem, as we alluded to in a previous column, testing can exculpate young people from a lifetime of debt by substituting a costly diploma with a quick, inexpensive test score that does a better job of measuring important skills, like critical thinking. Now it seems like this idea is gaining traction, from the Washington Post Online tests are the latest gateway to landing a new job
Actuaries and the military rely on placement tests instead of GPAs. In the years to come, we predict IQ-style tests will play a bigger role in getting a job than credentials such as diplomas and GPAs, and no amount of feet dragging or cries of disparate impact from the left will reverse this trend. Employers are realizing degrees are of questionable value in contrast to IQ-style tests that more accurately predict employee performance, such as the SAT, Wonderlick or custom apps. In today’s hyper-competitive economic environment of manufactured scarcity, employers have the decided upper-hand over the employee. As we wrote yesterday, there’s a major over supply of labor, allowing employers to be exceptionally fickle. Employees are expensive, especially those that are unqualified. According to economist Steven D. Levitt, a bad employee can cost the company over $25,000.
But what about teaching for the test? If people can game the tests, wouldn’t they become less effective? A well-constructed IQ test cannot be gamed. For example, if the test includes deciphering patterns, puzzles, reading comprehension or vocabulary, there’s a nearly infinite number of possible questions, rendering studying nearly useless.