Daniel Koretz on Measuring Up: What Educational Testing Really Tells Us

Daniel Koretz:

Well, I wrote the book for two reasons.  One is that testing has become enormously important not just in education but in public debate in general.  I have, every time, for instance, there are international comparisons, newspapers put it on front page.  But also because there is a tremendous amount of misunderstanding of testing and there really wasn’t a straightforward way for people to learn about it.  So I had for years, students coming back [and they’re] usually annoyed, sometimes furious about things they heard out in the real world about testing.  And they kept saying, “You have to write a book.  You have to write a book.”  The people need to know about testing, policy makers, educators, concerned citizens are not going to slug through 300-page text full of equations.  They’re not, just not going to do it.  So somebody has to write an accessible but thorough book.  So I, finally, after several of them got furious at a speech given by Rod Paige, I said, “All right, I’ll do it.”  And so what I did is I wrote, really, three separate things and combine them into a book.  One part is just a non-technical explanation of the key concepts that you need to understand to argue sensibly about testing.  You need to know what bias really is.  You need to know what adverse impact is.  You need to know what reliability is.  So there’s a chunk of the book that simply explains that in concrete terms.  There’s a small part of the book that asks what test scores, at least the ones we can trust, really tell us about American kids because there is a widespread misinterpretation of things like the national assessment or international comparisons.  In the back end of the book, which is what, and surprisingly, has gotten the most attention, applies the first part, the principles to what I considered to be pressing, controversial issues like high [stakes] testing and testing of kids with disabilities or limited proficiency in English.  Surprisingly, I expected that the book would be trashed by educational conservatives because it does say really unkind things about test based accountability as we currently do it and about No Child Left Behind, but that hasn’t been the case.  I think that maybe a sign… In fact, some educational conservatives have praised the book.  I think what’s happened is that there is a growing uneasiness with what we’ve done over the last eight years or so, 7 years.  While people don’t agree on what we should do differently, there’s, I think, a growing awareness that we’ve got to change something.  But my hope is that the book will just contribute in some small way to a more intelligent debate about testing and the people who want to know how to participate in that argument and those arguments will have a tool that will let them do that. 

Daniel Koretz sought to disabuse us of the myths surrounding testing and foster public debate about purpose in education.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

10 books to check out from Jordan Peterson's 'Great Books' list

The Canadian professor has an extensive collection posted on his site.

Jordan Peterson with Carl Jung and the cover art of Jaak Panksepp's 'Affective Neuroscience' (Image: Chris Williamson/Getty Images/Big Think)
Personal Growth
  • Peterson's Great Books list features classics by Orwell, Jung, Huxley, and Dostoevsky.
  • Categories include literature, neuroscience, religion, and systems analysis.
  • Having recently left Patreon for "freedom of speech" reasons, Peterson is taking direct donations through Paypal (and Bitcoin).
Keep reading Show less

Kosovo land swap could end conflict – or restart war

Best case: Redrawing borders leads to peace, prosperity and EU membership. But there's also a worst case.

Image: SRF
Strange Maps
  • The Yugoslav Wars started in 1991, but never really ended.
  • Kosovo and Serbia are still enemies, and they're getting worse.
  • A proposed land swap could create peace – or reignite the conflict.
Keep reading Show less

Should you invest in China's stock market? Know this one thing first.

Despite incredible economic growth, it is not necessarily an investor's paradise.

  • China's stock market is just 27 years old. It's economy has grown 30x over that time.
  • Imagine if you had invested early and gotten in on the ground floor.
  • Actually, you would have lost money. Here's how that's possible.