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This Just In: Standardized Tests are Flawed

September 23, 2013

Diane Ravtich had two posts on the flaws of standardized testing over the past few days: one summarizing a Fairtest report on the errors Pearson has made over the past several years and another describing the flaws in a recent State-wide test in Georgia.

As noted earlier posts, my confidence in the accuracy of standardized tests diminished appreciably in 1970, my first year in graduate school, when our class was asked to read the first chapter of an educational statistics book and find five errors on the Stanford Achievement Tests that the Philadelphia School district used to measure student performance. It seems that roughly 12% of the questions on the test were flawed. My further studies on testing underscored the reality that while tests yield precise results, they seldom yield accurate results. As these articles indicate, the “new improved tests” have as many bad questions as the Stanford Achievement tests of the 1970s but are now being used to make high stakes decisions on student, teacher, and school performance. I doubt that any statistician working for one of these enterprises like Pearson would support the use of these tests for the purpose set forth by the “reformers”, but speaking against that use would undercut the profits their company could make and would cast doubt on the whole notion that one massive end-of-year test is a valid means of measuring any individual or group performance with accuracy even though it will provide a measure that is precise.

As the flaws in testing become more widely known the parents and public might wake up to the fact that the test-based decision-making is not helping students succeed in school.

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