Saturday, October 12, 2002

King makes a very good point about testing being able to provide positive information. I spent 10 years as a school psychologist (8 in St. Cloud), 10 years as a professor at SCSU, and have spent the major portion of my last 10 years engaged in the development of standardized tests (see for info). Well constructed standardized tests, when developed in accordance with established test standards, typically provide reliable and valid information. They are only the messengers.

It has always bothered me how educational personal will tout high test scores (and, thus, implicity endorse the value of the tests), but then denigrate the tests when the scores are low. Yes....we must all be cognizant that they only sample a limited portion of the complete domain of human competence. For example, one of the best established models of personal competence (Greenspan's model) includes the broad domains of physical and emotional competence, and social, practical, and conceptual intelligence. Standardized group achievement tests only sample a portion of the conceptual intelligence domain. But, they do it relatively well according to established psychometric standards for group tests. They are only one indicator. The main problem is not with this one indicator, it is the failure of the educational system to also measure indicators in these other domains. The National Center on Education Outcomes, at the University of Minnesota, through a lengthy stakeholder consensus building process, developed a nice outcome model for evaluation education within a broader framework. I would suggest that educators spend less time marginalizng the standardized achievement tests and instead focus on broadening the accountability/measurement system to include other domains.

One of the major reasons for the anti-testing movement is the fact that standardized test results have become a favorite tool of politically driven educational reform. When testing becomes "high stakes", the whole testing enterprise is jeapordized and the tests themselves become a misguided target.

Finally, both as a consumer (parent) of test results and a professional who has made a career of administering or developing such tests, I'm appalled at that lack of knowledge educators have with regard to basic measurement concepts. The only way to evaluate student growth and progress is via measurement, in all it's various formal and informal forms. Based on my experience at SCSU, I believe that a fundamental reason for the lack of appropriate knowledge of educational measurement tools is due to the scant attention it is given in higher education. Teacher preparation programs should insist that teachers in training become very knowledgeable consumers of educatonal assessment information. Higher education has dropped the ball on this one....and thus......the negative comments made in response to individuals like King are often made by individuals with a limited understanding of the currency of measurement (which is now the currency of educational reform).

Kevin "still proud to have been a member of the real APSY dept" McGrew