The Myths of Standardized Tests: Why They Don’t Tell You What You Think They Do

Why Not More Direct Measurement

  • Standardized tests are indirect measures of knowledge and skill. The authors cite the road test that new drivers take as a direct measurement of the skill to be accessed. It is a test of performance in the real world built on knowledge judged by a written test. If a system featuring paper-and-pencil tests with performance tests is so good, why don’t schools use it more often? The first reason is the cost of direct measurements like the measurements required by special education laws. We forget that cost and value are not the same. The second is bureaucratic inertia, which simply accepts and builds on past practice. For example, colleges require GRE scores, a supposed predictor of grad school success, for students who already have graduate degrees. Standardized tests may be reliable, but they are not valid measures of performance.
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9 Responses to “The Myths of Standardized Tests: Why They Don’t Tell You What You Think They Do

  1. Dr. Don says:

    Every educator, administrator, government bureaucrat, and union leader should be required to read this book, and then tested on it in the same manner that our children are tested today. Better yet, this should probably be a seminar topic for required academic continuing education. Chart 14, “New Ideas for Genuine Accountability” brushes the surface and wets our appetite on a new direction and sounds like it could be the basis for Harris, Smith, and Harris’s next book.

  2. […] Doug Green has an excellent summary of the myths and negative consequences of standardized testingbased on a book on his site: […]

  3. Archangelo says:

    Standardized tests aren’t really meant to measure student achievement, but to provide an excuse to dump teachers.

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