Daniel Koretz, Testing Expert, on the Misuse of Standardized Testing and the Failure of the “Reform” Movement

By dianeravitch

In this post, Valerie Strauss interviews Daniel Koretz of Harvard University about his new book The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better.

I just finished reading the book, which is a devastating critique of the current “reform” movement because of its reliance on standardized testing. Koretz is not anti-testing or even anti-standardized testing. He is upset by the misuse of standardized testing. He says that it was completely predictable that putting high stakes on tests would lead to score inflation, gaming the system, and cheating (I said the same things in The Death and Life of the Great American School System in chapter 8, about the false promise of accountability). He says that the so-called reform movement has been completely misled by its obsession with high stakes. Consequently, none of the gains that it claims can be trusted. He also lambastes the deeply flawed Common Core state standards, which presumes the value of having a single standard for all students regardless of their different ambitions, abilities, and interests.

I intend to review the book at a later date, and I will express both my admiration for the book and my concerns about the position Koretz takes about the value of standardized testing under the “right” circumstances. I appreciate the fact that he demolishes the “reform” movement and its alleged but nonexistent gains.

I don’t agree with him about the value of standardized tests. Remove the high stakes and they have a limited purpose. Unfortunately, as he points out, the “reformers” see test-based accountability as the heart and soul of their movement. If they can’t use tests to punish students, teachers, principals, and schools, then what is the point?

But for me, the current obsession with standardized testing is pernicious for other reasons. It reduces learning to multiple choice questions …read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core