Standardized Testing Primer


  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • Where to Purchase
  • Reviews
  • About the Author

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    Standardized Testing Primer (Peter Lang, October 2007)

    Description: The Standardized Testing Primer provides non-specialists with a thorough overview of this controversial and complicated topic. It eschews the statistical details of scaling, scoring, and measurement that are widely available in textbooks and at testing organization Web sites, and instead describes standardized testing�s social and political roles and its practical uses�who tests, when, where, and why. Topics include: an historical background of testing�s practical uses in psychology, education, and the workplace; the varied structures of educational testing programs and systems across countries; the mechanics of test development and quality assurance; and current trends in test development and administration. A glossary and bibliography are also provided.

    ISBN: 9780820497419 082049741X (paper)
    OCLC: 155715191 paper
    LOC: LB3051.P543
    Dewey: 371.26'2-dc22



    Standardized Testing Primer
    Table of Contents
    Chapter 1--Introduction
    Chapter 2--Aptitude or Achievement: Two Separate Historical Paths
    Chapter 3--The Effects of Testing
    Chapter 4--Mechanics of Test Development and Quality Assurance
    Chapter 5--Conclusion
    References and Resources



    Available at your friendly neighborhood virtual bookstore (or through Peter Lang Publishers) # Amazon # B&N




    Book News
    "Rather than following developers who tout the benefits of standardizing testing or opponents who focus on what they see as failure, independent scholar Phelps explains its social and political implications and practical uses. He explains to non-specialists how and why such tests developed as ways to measure both aptitude and achievement, and how those applications soon diverged. He explains the early effects of testing in education, in which the results were largely ignored, and how educators began to refine and use high-stakes tests in public and higher education for a variety of purposes, including assessment of schools as much as students. He describes how developers create tests and work on quality assurance, and lists the potential risks (such as marginalization of certain groups) and benefits (such as correcting for upward grade drift) of standardized testing. Phelps's list of resources is particularly helpful."

    ([c]20082005 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR)
    COPYRIGHT 2008 Book News, Inc.
    COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning

    British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(3).
    "A standardised test is one administered under standard conditions or controlled conditions, where we determine the when, how, where and how long of the items. These tests�intended to evaluate performance of either the student or school against certain standards�fall into one of two categories. These are achievement tests (measuring subject-specific knowledge) and aptitude tests (measuring ability to learn by assessing the learner's mastery of reasoning or of problem-solving).

    "The advantage of these tests is consistency in scoring. They have been found to be useful in describing behaviours in terms of numbers or of categories. Standardised tests have invited a lot of debate in the United States and, particularly since the implementation of the NCLB Act (No Child Left Behind), US schools could be held accountable for results.

    "Phelps has progressed his war since he first wrote (2003, now on its third printing) Kill the messenger: The war on standardized testing, on the way to clarifying misconceptions and myths about standardised testing. As noted by Stone in his Preface (p xviii) "Finally, Phelps reminds us of the real-world need for external standardized testing."

    "This standardised testing "primer" discusses the practical uses of testing in social and political contexts. It has adequately discussed various tests and assessments like formative and summative assessment; standardised and high-stakes tests; norm-referenced and criterion-referenced tests; reliability, validity, and fairness.

    "This is a short and cute book with no accessories (preface, acknowledgement, list of tables etc). Not wasting any of the reader's time, the author takes us to the world of standardised testing while explaining basic terms of testing in brief introduction. The lists of references and resources (print and non-print) provided at the end of the book would quench the thirst of all researchers for further knowledge on assessment and testing. What adds to the beauty of this primer is explaining any important concept in the left margin and a glossary at the end of the chapters. Although the chapter on aptitude or achievement tests takes into account the American background, the readers of other regions would find the primer equally interesting due to its succinct and direct approach to explaining how to go about standardised testing."

    Ramesh C. Sharma,
    Regional Director, Indira Gandhi National Open University, India

    Education Review
    "All individuals involved in the world of educational assessment know the importance of standardized testing and its impact on education. However, in Standardized Testing Primer, Richard Phelps exposes that standardized testing is both controversial and complex and is found "dispassionately or technically" difficult by many (p.1). Nevertheless, it is a public issue and policy-makers as well as citizens the world over can and do make decisions affecting the character and use of standardized tests. What is standardized testing, what is the value and purpose of standardized testing, and what is the demand for standardized testing?

    "These are issues that are discussed first and foremost in an attempt to ease the controversy, complexity and difficulty of standardized testing. To answer the question of what is standardized testing, Phelps discusses multiple-choice items, performance-based tests, latent mental traits, and prompts. The value and purpose of standardized testing is introduced by discussing such terms as representative sample, norm-referenced tests, standards-based tests and content standards. The demand for standardized testing is nothing new to those involved in public education. Being both useful and popular, it is not surprising that parents are stronger advocates than non-parents of standardized educational testing with consequences (e.g., high-stakes). Phelps supports this with summaries of public opinions on high-stakes testing requirements among education consumers (e.g., students, parents, the public) and producers (e.g., teachers, administrators).

    "As popular as they are, standardized tests have been around for a very long time. These tests are able to serve a dual purpose of measuring both aptitude and achievement. The historical paths and origins of educational achievement and aptitude testing are discussed for readers. Phelps helps educators understand qualitative characteristics that make tests different such as norms, criteria, standards, and stakes along with the structures of educational testing programs and assessment systems. Phelps also discusses the variation from country to country regarding how tests are used and which types of test are used. In order to better help educators come to terms with the importance of standardized testing, court decisions regulating test use and debates among education researchers is illustrated. Chapter 3 reveals the effects of standardized testing, the responses that these effects have drawn, and the implications for testing system structure. One topic of interest is that of test coaching and teaching to the test. This topic is a rather popular one for both in-service teachers and pre-service teachers as it could serve as a complement to discussions in the measurement and evaluation courses in teacher education programs.

    "As an additional enhancement to measurement and evaluation courses in education, chapter 4 discusses many of the issues discussed with all teachers. Validity, including content, curricular, criterion, concurrent, construct, and consequential is described in detail that helps the reader differentiate between the similarities of the terms. Additional terms discussed include reliability, the test development process including test specifications, test frameworks, test blueprints, test assembly, test items, item writing, item formats (e.g., selected-response format and constructed-response items, higher-order, projective tests), test directions, and field testing. Phelps also discusses item analysis which is essential to all test producers and consumers. Item analysis provides information relative to each test item including item difficulty, also known as the p-value, item discrimination, also known as the point-biserial, and differential item functioning (DIF).

    "Another important topic for test producers and consumers is that of test administration and scoring. Because administration and scoring of standardized testing are so important, it is crucial that testing conditions (i.e., administration and scoring) remain as consistent as possible. Any variation could affect performance and therefore, testing environments and scoring procedures should be designed with as little variation as achievable. This is a topic that is extremely important for teachers to be aware of.

    "Phelps also provides a useful test quality checklist to determine if a test is of good quality. If a test is of good quality, then test developers should be able to answer questions such as what is the purpose of the test, is there adequate evidence of validity, assuring that test scores are meaningful, are test scores reliable, with minimal measurement error, and are the conclusions drawn from the test scores fair to all students. This checklist could serve as a guide for schools looking to adopt new programs or assessments within their districts.

    "As a supplement to this book, Phelps provides a well defined list of other primers including some reference books on assessment as well as references and other print resources, and nonprint resources and journals.

    "In conclusion, this book would be beneficial for all teachers, especially new ones, parents, and administrators. Especially helpful, it provides a glossary of terms at the end of each chapter. It will assist readers in understanding the importance of standardized educational testing and improve their ability to interpret and use the results produced by these tests. Furthermore, instructors of educational measurement and evaluation might find this book useful as a supplemental text when covering the topic of standardized testing."

    Education Review
    Melanie L. Shores, University of Alabama (Birmingham)

    International Review of Education
    The book has a number of useful features: the inclusion of a glossary of terms in every chapter and definitions of terms in margins. In addition, it presents important resources such as testing standards and guidelines, reference books, and non-print resources and journals.
    Standardised Testing by Richard Phelps provides valuable information on the controversies regarding testing and generally succeeds in presenting strong arguements in favour of standardised testing.
    Saouma Boujaoude, American University of Beirut



    Richard P. Phelps received degrees from Washington, Indiana, and Harvard Universities and a Ph.D. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He taught secondary school mathematics in Burkina Faso, West Africa; worked at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris, the U.S. General Accounting Office, Westat, National Evaluation Systems, and Indiana�s Education Department; has published dozens of articles in scholarly journals; and is editor and co-author of Correcting Fallacies about Educational and Psychological Testing (APA Books, 2008) and Defending Standardized Testing (Psychology Press, 2005); author of Kill the Messenger (Transaction, 2003, 2005), and lead author for several statistical compendia. Phelps has received research and study fellowships from the Educational Testing Service, the American Education Finance Association, the [U.S.] National Center for Education Statistics, Harvard University, and the Wharton School.

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