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Icons of Progress

Automated Test Scoring

Every person who has been through public school in the United States in the past 50 years or so can remember filling in those little bubbles on the standardized test scoring sheets with a “number two” pencil. It all started with the IBM 805 Test Scoring Machine. This single invention has touched the lives of just about every student in the US and many others around the world.


University entrance exams

“Make sure each mark is dark and completely fills the circle. Do not make any stray marks on your answer sheet. If you erase, do so completely. Incomplete erasures may be scored as intended answers.” Each year over two million students worldwide read instructions like this as they prepare to take the SAT Reasoning Test, a standardized test for college and university admission in the United States. The Cooperative Test Service of the American Council of Education—a predecessor of the Educational Testing Service, which administers the SAT—was one of the pioneering users of the IBM ® 805 Test Scoring Machine. Although the test and the technology have undergone many changes since the first efforts at standardized college admission testing, the principles and processes can trace their origins to the IBM 805 machine.

Assessment of students and schools

“No Child Left Behind” became a well-known phrase in the United States in the early 2000s, as politicians became concerned about the quality of education in the country. But the assessment of students and schools in the US began as early as 1969, with the first National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test. The test has developed over the years, but it is still based on the same methodology that was initially enabled by the IBM 805: multiple choice tests with automated scoring. The NAEP was administered to hundreds of thousands of students in the US in 2009, with the results used to evaluate school districts and programs.