November 29, 2006
What are the odds of being able to grade 45 million standardized reading and math exams without error? If you said less than 1 percent, you're right. In just one recent example of a testing snafu, an Alabama school had a dozen students leave for greener pastures after state tests wrongly labeled it a failing institution. Such gaffes are often due to human error of the hard-to-prevent-all-of-it sort. But others seem to be more preventable. For example, McGraw-Hill hired a grader who wrote on his application that he majored in "Phylosophy/Humanity." Another grader wrote that she received a phys. ed. degree from "Methidist College." Still, such embarrassing anecdotes aside, much of the testing backlash is overstated. Inexcusable errors happen, and we should certainly feel sympathy for kids such as Shane Fulton, who "suffered anxiety and sleepless nights after a 390-point error dropped his SAT score." But while testing companies have a responsibility to correct their flaws, we needn't throw the entire testing baby out with bathwater. Evaluating students is not the problem. Poor performance by the testing companies is.
"How Test Companies Fail Your Kids," by David Glovin and David Evans, Bloomberg Markets, December 2006