Cognitive Skills Valued by Educators: Historical Content Analysis of Testing in Ohio

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Journal of Educational Research


High-stakes school examinations are I way a society expresses the cognitive competencies it values. The author investigated changes in the relative importance society places on different types of cognitive skills using 2 data sets that were separated by almost a century. The data sets used were Ohio high school entrance examinations between 1902 and 1913 and the Ohio 9th-grade proficiency tests of the late 1990s. Content analysis revealed an inverse correlation between text characteristics reflecting culturally valued knowledge and text characteristics reflecting the complexity of relationships between facts. These results suggest that the examinations from 1902 to 1913 demanded deep declarative knowledge of culturally valued information but expected only simple interrelations between facts. The modern proficiency examinations expected examinees to understand complex interrelations between concepts but expected only superficial knowledge of culturally valued information. These findings suggest that there have been substantial changes in the cognitive skills valued by Ohio educators over the course of the 20th century.

Original Citation

Genovese, J. C. (2002). Cognitive skills valued by educators: Historical content analysis of testing in Ohio. Journal of Educational Research, 96(2), 101-114.