The President of the United States and his Secretary of Education are
violating one of the most fundamental principles concerning test use: Tests
should be used only for the purpose for which they were developed. If they
are to be used for some other purpose, then careful attention must be paid
to whether or not this purpose is appropriate. This position was developed
jointly by the American Educational Research Association, the American
Psychological Association, and the National Council on Measurement in
Education in their document “The Standards for Educational and Psychological
The President and his Secretary want to use existing tests, willy-nilly to
evaluate teachers. They should both be ashamed. The President should be
chastised and Secretary Duncan should be fired on the simple grounds of
From the American Psychological Association’s “Appropriate Use of
High-Stakes Testing in Our Nation’s Schools:” “It is important to remember
that no test is valid for all purposes. Indeed, tests vary in their intended
uses and in their ability to provide meaningful assessments of student
It is not the case that a test is a test is a test. Research into the use
of existing tests to evaluate teachers has called that use into question (I
summarized other people’s research on these issues in my May and December
2004 Research columns in Phi Delta Kappan). More recent studies, summarized
in the July 15 issue of Education Week by Debra Viadero, cast further doubt
on the whole enterprise.
States are rolling over and playing dead on this issue because a) they are
desperate for money and b) it is unlikely that people like Bloomberg or the
Governator—or Duncan-- have a clue about the abuse they are permitting.
Duncan’s enthusiastic championing of a “reform” that has been shown not to
work very well—charter schools—can only be taken as an instrument for union
busting. If the NEA and AFT won’t stand up to this abuse of testing, they
deserve to be busted.
Bracey is a nationally recognized authority on educational assessment
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