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On Critics of Testing

By Dennis Published: November 15, 2011

On Critics of Testing,

I am sure that as soon as the first test was invented, by the Chinese according to the history of assessment, the first critic of testing was born. Criticisms of testing are nothing new. I would bet there have been a few test constructors burned at the stake and if we still had burning stakes there would be teacher unions calling for just that punishment for those who create standardized educational tests.

Certainly, as soon as the Western testing boom started in the 1900s, there were critics, specifically of the eugenics movement. Perhaps the greatest anti-personality testing book ever written was The Organization Man by Whyte in 1956. The future looks even more bleak. From the earliest years in school, children are taught by teachers about the evils of standardized testing and how the test has to be outfoxed.

Of course, what is most disappointing is not that the public and politicians do not understand testing, it is that so few psychologists, human resource professionals, and even assessment professionals, understand the most basic facts about the science of testing. Testing is a science and the basic principles are not open for debate or casual opinion, which is not to say that there are aspects of assessment or its use that are not open to thoughtful, informed commentary. Of course, we still debate evolution and fail to understand basic economic principles (like money does not grow on trees), so it is no real surprise that testing is so misunderstood and so often criticized.

So speaking of similar articles online.

Dennis Doverspike



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