Standardized test box, c. 19??

My grand mother, who worked at a public school, brought home tons of empty boxes for reuse. There are many of these kinds:


These boxes held standardized tests that were sent from the publisher, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, to the schools. They would be used and then shipped back to HBJ, who would then evaluate them, probably by Scantron or other electromechanical means.

Aside from the bad memories of academical regimentation or rigidity these may bring back, or nostalgia for some people (who I don’t think less of for that), I’m interested in the design of the cover. The three color (black, white and blue) limitations of the printer didn’t stop whoever designed this from doing a better than average job. The lines and right angles suggest Mondrian to me. It’s also possible they were guide lines for placing the text elements and looked so good they were left as part of the design.

The HBJ logo I’m less happy about. The H is obvious, the B looks more like an 8 to me and the J could just as easily be a U. I guess they are trusting people to know what it means. The B/8 confusion may be a product of modern times. Prior to the development of the 7 segment display1 the use of that “two squares” glyph to represent the number eight may not have been that common. I don’t know for sure.

Finally, let me remark on the text block addressed “To the Examiner”. Was that much wordiness really needed? Why “measuring instruments” instead of “tests”? Why the switch from formal (“To safeguard the validity…”) to informal (“out of the hands of…”)? How about “To make sure the scores are valid, these tests must not be accessible by students before or after administration”?


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