Daniel Koretz on Testing Across the Developed World

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.

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TRANSCRIPT

Daniel Koretz:

Bad news sells.  And, in fact, I recently heard someone basically say that the only way to get attention to education is through bad news.  And that may be part of the problem.  We do score… Our kids do score less well than some kids in other countries and that’s not new.  So there’s a fairly, there’s a long standing and fairly stable difference in performance in mathematics between our kids and the kids in all of developed East Asia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Korea which wasn’t developed until [two years ago].  That’s fairly stable.  What you get when you compare us to countries that are more similar to us, Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, maybe even Germany is little less clear because the results are not consistent from one test to another.  One test puts us pretty much in the same league as countries like Australia and Canada.  Another test, the PISA test run by the OECD in Paris suggests that our kids are behind in mathematics.  I think it’s… We don’t know because the tests aren’t designed to allow us to sort this out very well, but it appears that it’s because the test measure different things.  The test that measure what’s taught in school put us higher up relative to those countries.  The one that measures application to more realistic problems shows us falling a little further behind.


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