Daniel Koretz is the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education. He focuses his research primarily on educational assessment, particularly as a tool of education policy. A primary emphasis in his work has been the effects of high-stakes testing, including effects on schooling and the validity of score gains. His research has included studies of the effects of testing programs, the assessment of students with disabilities, international differences in the variability of student achievement, the application of value-added models to educational achievement, and the development of methods for validating scores under high-stakes conditions. His current work focuses on the design and evaluation of test-focused educational accountability systems. Dr. Koretz founded and chairs the International Project for the Study of Educational Accountability, an international network of scholars investigating improved approaches to educational accountability. Dr. Koretz is a member of the National Academy of Education. His doctorate is in developmental psychology from Cornell University. Before obtaining his degree, Dr. Koretz taught emotionally disturbed students in public elementary and junior high schools.
Daniel Koretz: It’s not an accident that children from certain cultures, for instance, perform very well. There’s a tremendous interest in the performance of developed East Asian countries, which in mathematics is consistently very high, much higher than performance here. It’s also true that children from those cultures in this country, going to our educational system, outperform [whites] as well, on average. What we don’t have, I think, is we don’t have a consistent press by parents on students to perform well on ways that matter. So, for example, there’s a very commonly… a very commonly discussed problem with the attitude toward mathematics in this country. In this country, it’s considered perfectly acceptable to be incompetent in mathematics. And, in fact, some people are rather proud of being incompetent in mathematics. It’s not considered acceptable to be incompetent in Mathematics in East Asian countries that score very well on standardized tests. And, in fact, what anthropologist have said is that in those cultures, the assumption is that much of the variation on how well you do, how well a student does in mathematics is a function of effort. Many parents in United States assume that it’s just some kind of aptitude, some kids have it, some kids don’t. Result is our kids really don’t do very well in mathematics by international standards. And I think part of the problem is those [parental] attitudes