This is a book you should read if you want to understand
how assessments are now being misused. It sets a valuable political
and historical context for understanding the mess that is now
federal education policy. The Mismeasure of Education by Jim Horn and Denise Wilburn should be on your shelf. The publisher just dropped the price to $27.50.



With new student assessments and teacher evaluation
schemes in the planning or early implementation phases, this book
takes a step back to examine the ideological and historical
grounding, potential benefits, scholarly evidence, and ethical
basis for the new generation of test based accountability measures.
After providing the political and cultural contexts for the rise of
the testing accountability movement in the 1960s that culminated
almost forty years later in No Child Left Behind and Race to the
Top, this book then moves on to provide a policy history and social
policy analysis of value-added testing in Tennessee that is framed
around questions of power relations, winners, and
In examining the issues and exercise
of power that are sustained in the long-standing policy of
standardized testing in schools, this work provides a big picture
perspective on assessment practices over time in the U. S.; by
examining the rise of value-added assessment in Tennessee, a
fine-grained and contemporary case is provided within that larger
context. The last half of the book provides a detailed survey of
the research based critiques of value-added methodology, while
detailing an aggressive marketing campaign to make value-added
modeling (VAM) a central component of reform strategies following
NCLB. The last chapter and epilogue place the continuation of
test-based accountability practices within the context of an
emerging pushback against privatization, high stakes testing, and
other education reforms.
This book will be
useful to a wide audience, including teachers, parents, school
leaders, policymakers, researchers, and students of educational
history, policy, and politics.

REVIEWS “When the Obama
Administration decided to spend the billions it got for schools as
part of the stimulus package to launch the Race to the Top program
and the NCLB waivers, forcing many states to adopt teacher
evaluation based on changes in student test scores, leading experts
warned that this “value added” system did not have a reliable
scientific basis and would often lead to false conclusions. This
sobering and important study of the long experience with this
system in Tennessee (where it was invented) shows that it did not
work, was unfair, and took attention away from other more
fundamental issues.” Gary Orfield Distinguished Research Professor,
UCLA, Co-Director, Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles,
“If The Mismeasure of Education offered
only its penetrating new look at Conant and Coleman, it would be
worth the price. But that’s just the beginning. Horn and Wilburn
uncover the obsessive instrumentalist quantification and
apocalyptic rhetoric soapboxed by both liberal and conservative
political elites. Their autopsy of value-added accountability
reveals the pathology of ed reform’s claim about teachers not being
good enough for the global economy.” Susan Ohanian Educator,
Author, Activist
“A well-researched (and
frightening) look at examples of shameful pseudoscience in America,
the latest manifestation of which is value-added assessment for
determining teacher competency… A well-documented and thorough
analysis, inescapably leading to the conclusion that student test
data cannot be used to determine teacher effectiveness. A must read
for policy makers enamored of the idea that value added assessments
will do what is claimed for them. They do not!….An excellent and
scholarly history of how we got to an
educational-testing/industrial complex, now promoting invalid
assessment strategies that are transforming education, but not for
the better. A scary book that should be thoughtfully read by those
who value America’s greatest invention, the public schools.” David
Berliner Regents’ Professor Emeritus, Arizona State
“The Mismeasure of Education is a
magnificent work, an elegantly written, brilliantly argued and
erudite exposition on why the “what,” “how” and “why” of effective
teaching cannot be adequately demonstrated by sets of algorithms
spawned in the ideological laboratories of scientific management at
the behest of billionaire investors… This book will serve as a
sword of Damocles, hanging over the head of the nation’s
educational tribunals and their adsentatores, ingratiators and
sycophants in the business community… The Mismeasure of Education
will have a profound resonance with those who are fed up with the
hijacking of our nation’s education system. This is a book that
must be read by everyone interested in the future of our schools.
It is a book that advocates real educational justice, for student,
teachers, administrators and the public; it is informed by
impressive scholarship and compelling argument. It is surely to
become a classic work.” Peter McLarenProfessor, GSEIS, University
of California, Los Angeles, Distinguished Fellow in Critical
Studies, Chapman University