Defending Standardized Testing

Defending Standardized Testing

Defending Standardized Testing

Defending Standardized Testing


The education reform movement of the past two decades has focused on raising academic standards. Some standards advocates attach a testing mechanism to gauge the extent to which high standards are actually accomplished, whereas some critics accuse the push for standards and testing of impeding reform and perpetuating inequality. At the same time, the testing profession has produced advances in the format, accuracy, dependability, and utility of tests. Never before has obtaining such an abundance of accurate and useful information about student learning been possible. Meanwhile, the American public remains steadfast in support of testing to measure student performance and monitor the performance of educational systems.

Many educational testing experts who acknowledge the benefits of testing also believe that those benefits have been insufficiently articulated. Although much has been written on standardized testing policy, most of the material has been written by opponents. The contributing authors of this volume are both accomplished researchers and practitioners who are respected and admired worldwide. They bring to the project an abundance of experience working with standardized tests.

The goal of Defending Standardized Testing is to:

• describe current standardized testing policies and strategies;

• explain many of the common criticisms of standardized testing;

• document the public support for, and the realized benefits of, standardized testing;

• acknowledge the limitations of, and suggest improvements to, testing practices;

• provide guidance for structuring and administering large-scale testing programs in light of public preferences and the "No Child Left Behind Act" requirements; and

• present a defense of standardized testing and a vision for its future.

Defending Standardized Testing minimizes the use of technical jargon so as to appeal to all who have a stake in American educational reform.


There is, perhaps, no issue more visible among current education reforms than standardized testing. Most reform efforts of the past couple of decades have attempted to raise academic standards and, often, testing is considered an essential component of the effort, necessary to prompt attainment of and gauge the extent to which standards are followed or attained. Some critics, however, view the push for standards and testing as precisely what ails American education. In this latter view, current calls for increased standards and testing are actually considered harmful. Those who assume such a perspective would diminish—or even extinguish—the presence of high- stakes educational achievement testing.

Through a broader lens, testing disputes can be seen as a clash of philosophical positions. One position advocates competition, rewards merit or accomplishment, embraces individual responsibilities and acknowledges individual differences. The other position discourages competition, rewards effort and process, embraces collective responsibilities, and strives for equity. Accordingly, adherents to the latter position view testing generally as an impediment to reform, an antiquated technology that reflects an antiquated view of teaching, learning, and social organization, perpetuates inequality, and serves the ends of cultural, political and educational oppression.

Likewise, opposition over standardized testing can be seen as a clash of interests. One position advocates measurement of the performance of public organizations, public disclosure of information, and the implementation . . .

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