"No Child Left Behind" Criticized Long in Advance

"... the tendency at present is very strong to provide means of measurement which are concerned somewhat closely with school achievements, and which can be used by teachers and others with little technical training. There is also a tendency, because of this need for a large number of measurements in the case of educational problems, to try to devise tests which can be scored by persons utterly devoid of judgment concerning the products in question.

"It would ill become the present writer to protest against these two tendencies; and they are intrinsically healthy. There is, however, a real danger in sacrificing soundness of principle and precision of result to the demand that we measure matters of importance and measure them without requiring elaborate technique or much time of the measurer. The danger is that the attention of investigators will be distracted from the problems of pure measurement for measurement's sake, which are a chief source of progress in measuring anything. Perhaps not even one person in a million need feel this passion, but for that one to cherish it and serve it is far more important than for him to devise a test which thousands of teachers will employ. Opposition, neglect, and misunderstanding will be much less disastrous to the work of quantitative science in education than a vast output of mediocre tests for measuring this, that and the other school product, of which a large percent are fundamentally unsound."

Edward L. Thorndike (1918). The nature, purposes, and general methods of measurements of educational products. Chapter II in G.M. Whipple (Ed.), The 17th yearbook of the National Society for Study of Education. Part II. The Measurement of Educational Products. Bloomington, IL: Public School Publishing Co. p. 20-21.


Courtesy of Andrew Stephanou, ACER

"No Child Left Behind" Criticized Long in Advance … E.L. Thorndike, Rasch Measurement Transactions, 2009, 22:4, 1181

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