Laws and Sausages- and Test Scores


“If a black and white student respond identically to questions on the NAEP assessment, the reported ability for the black student will be lower than for the white student, reflecting the lower average performance of black students on this assessment.” -Brian A. Jacob from “Student test scores: How the sausage is made and why you should care”

“Profits, like sausages… are esteemed most by those who know least about what goes into them.” -Alvin Toffler

A recently released report by the Economic Studies at Brookings entitled Student test scores: How the sausage is made and why you should care shows us, yet again, the inherent issues with standardized tests.

You can read it on your own (which I advise) or I can sum it up for you:

Shorter tests are bad. Multiple forms of a test are bad. Answers don’t tell us what kids know and don’t know. How tests are scored gives different results. Accounting for measurement error (weighting) gives false data based on race. How scores are reported don’t tell us much about what students know. Using test scores test scores in teacher evaluations may not tell us anything about the quality of teacher- see the previous items. Standardized assessments may show up in college. Standardized assessments are being used for ‘non-cognitive’ traits.

Think of the money spent, the lives impacted, the structural change to public schools… all because of tests that we know mean nothing about what students know or can do.