A Measure of Failure: The Political Origins of Standardized Testing

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Phelps supports this with summaries of public opinions on high-stakes testing requirements among education consumers e. These tests are able to serve a dual purpose of measuring both aptitude and achievement.

Standardized Testing - COSI (Conversations on Social Issues) - Library at Seattle Central College

The historical paths and origins of educational achievement and aptitude testing are discussed for readers. Phelps helps educators understand qualitative characteristics that make tests different such as norms, criteria, standards, and stakes along with the structures of educational testing programs and assessment systems.

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Phelps also discusses the variation from country to country regarding how tests are used and which types of test are used. In order to better help educators come to terms with the importance of standardized testing, court decisions regulating test use and debates among education researchers is illustrated. Chapter 3 reveals the effects of standardized testing, the responses that these effects have drawn, and the implications for testing system structure. One topic of interest is that of test coaching and teaching to the test. This topic is a rather popular one for both in-service teachers and pre-service teachers as it could serve as a complement to discussions in the measurement and evaluation courses in teacher education programs.

Validity, including content, curricular, criterion, concurrent, construct, and consequential is described in detail that helps the reader differentiate between the similarities of the terms. Additional terms discussed include reliability, the test development process including test specifications, test frameworks, test blueprints, test assembly, test items, item writing, item formats e. Phelps also discusses item analysis which is essential to all test producers and consumers.

Item analysis provides information relative to each test item including item difficulty, also known as the p-value, item discrimination, also known as the point-biserial, and differential item functioning DIF. Because administration and scoring of standardized testing are so important, it is crucial that testing conditions i.

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Any variation could affect performance and therefore, testing environments and scoring procedures should be designed with as little variation as achievable. This is a topic that is extremely important for teachers to be aware of.

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  5. If a test is of good quality, then test developers should be able to answer questions such as what is the purpose of the test, is there adequate evidence of validity, assuring that test scores are meaningful, are test scores reliable, with minimal measurement error, and are the conclusions drawn from the test scores fair to all students. This checklist could serve as a guide for schools looking to adopt new programs or assessments within their districts.

    Especially helpful, it provides a glossary of terms at the end of each chapter.


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    It will assist readers in understanding the importance of standardized educational testing and improve their ability to interpret and use the results produced by these tests. Furthermore, instructors of educational measurement and evaluation might find this book useful as a supplemental text when covering the topic of standardized testing.

    International Review of Education The book has a number of useful features: the inclusion of a glossary of terms in every chapter and definitions of terms in margins. In addition, it presents important resources such as testing standards and guidelines, reference books, and non-print resources and journals. Standardised Testing by Richard Phelps provides valuable information on the controversies regarding testing and generally succeeds in presenting strong arguements in favour of standardised testing.

    Standardized Tests

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