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Making the Grades: My Misadventures in the Standardized Testing Industry Paperback – October 1, 2009
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". . .a humorous yet sobering glimpse at the testing arena--a must-read for policymakers and pundits enchanted by high-stakes tests."
-- Dennis Van Roekel, President, National Education Association
"This revealing account is full of dark humor and asks many disturbing questions that will rouse debate among educators and concerned general readers."
-- Karl Helicher, September/October 2009, Foreword
"Todd Farley has a new book: It was an intriguing read..."
-- Jay Mathews, The Washington Post
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Top Customer Reviews
It should be mandated reading for politicians and those who cry for "data-driven" reforms. I hope it will be "The Jungle" for this industry. Farley is my new hero.
I do wonder how Pearson, ETS and the DOE are responding. I'm responding by pushing this book on everyone who will listen.
As for the content, it's disturbing. Though, it's disturbing in different ways to different people.
Many of us with experience in standardized testing and the for-profit education industry have no trouble believing the story line - guy (not one who would self-describe as an educator of any kind) unwittingly stumbles into a job scoring tests; guy discovers the true meaning of "there are lies, damned lies and statistics;" guy figures out the system, plays along and moves up the corporate ladder in the educational testing industry.
In the private tutoring/test prep industry, we like to think we've seen it all. But, we forget that at least we work directly with students, so there's not only a certain level of accountability but also a more direct connection with students, teachers and parents. This is the story of what happens after our students write these tests, when the tests are in the hands of people who don't have any kind of vested interest in the outcome. Nor do they necessarily have experience in teaching. As revealed in the book, teachers were often horrible scorers because they tried to read into responses, as most teachers do, trying to comprehend what the kid meant even if it wasn't what was actually written. So, those people who had the best chance at interpreting (vs. simply reading) the responses were undesirable in this process.
There are revelations from the book I'd love to share, but it's quite entertaining as written and I do feel that it's an enjoyable read without knowing too much about what's coming up.Read more ›
I recommend the book: It was consistently entertaining, and some of the critiques are clearly important, such as the ease with which testing companies can doctor their statistics and the number of poorly qualified scorers who are grading your child's SAT.
However, several of Farley's critiques are inherent to any testing, including classroom testing. His first experience as a scorer describes the challenge of grading a question in which fourth graders had to read an article about bicycle safety and then draw a poster to highlight bicycle safety rules. Unsurprisingly, many of the posters were difficult to interpret. As any teacher will agree, this is a problem with any testing, not standardized testing.
At the end of the book, Farley recommends we trust the evaluations of classroom teachers (Mrs. White and Mr. Reyes are his examples) rather than the standardized evaluations. This, however, is of little use for a university admissions officer who must choose between a student from Mrs. White's class and a student from Mr. Reyes's class.Read more ›
I had hoped that this book would give me further ammunition against standardized testing on the basis that the tests aren't even valid or reliable on their own terms. And this book does do that to some extent. Farley shows us repeatedly how scores were routinely changed to match across scorers and increase reliability numbers. He shows us how the rubrics used to score student answers were cobbled together by groups of educators manipulated by testing industry representatives. He shows us that many of the people scoring student answers were minimally, if at all qualified - many would be unemployable in nearly any other industry, especially any position calling for judgment or decision making ability.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I found the description of this book to be a little misleading. The only aspect of standardized testing this book discusses is open ended questions. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Tzvi Daum
Great insights into the testing industry, eye-opening - a must read!Published 4 months ago by Mary E Burnham
this was very interesting,
it blows the lid off of the standardized testing complex,
if you ever questioned the value of standardized tests, you should read... Read more
This book uncovers the farce of Standardized Testing. It is a truly enlightening readPublished 6 months ago by Albert L. Tate
This book was an eye-opener as to how the "constructed response" questions on our standardized assessments are scored. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Deb
A MUST-READ for anyone who thinks there's any truth to be told by a score on any of these exams. The depth & bredth of corruption in the big business of standardized testing is... Read morePublished 8 months ago by B. Conn
This book is the most amazing inside view of the grading process for high stakes testing in US schools. Scary!Published 11 months ago by howard phillips
Funny. Well written. Tragic.
This is a must-read for anyone who promotes school reform, incentive pay, or privatization as well as any school administrator who includes test... Read more