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Measuring Up: What Educational Testing Really Tells Us Hardcover – May 15, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0674028050 ISBN-10: 0674028058 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; First Edition edition (May 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674028058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674028050
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #722,834 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


This is the most easily understood presentation I know of the deceptively complex world of educational testing, and the most important current issues. It should be welcomed with relief by a very broad audience, much of which is ignored in most presentations on testing. I would love to see it used in courses for virtually all future administrators, policy makers, and teachers. Anyone directing testing programs in school districts and states will find this invaluable when they have to explain what they're doing. This book is badly needed.
--H.D. Hoover, Professor Emeritus, University of Iowa

Here we are, lost in Testland, bombarded by data about how well or poorly we or our kids have done on the latest exam. What do test results mean? Every expert has a different explanation. What to do? Read Daniel Koretz's new book, as soon as possible. Never have I seen a clearer or more sensible exploration of our testing frenzy. I thought one chapter, "What Influences Test Scores, or How Not to Pick a School," was all by itself worth the price of the book. Read it and relax.
--Jay Mathews, Washington Post education reporter and columnist

Deconstructs the complexities of achievement testing for the educational layman. (Education Week 2008-05-21)

Every parent who uses league tables as a basis for placing his or her child in a school, whether in the U.S. or anywhere else, should read this book.
--Lee Harvey (Times Higher Education Supplement 2008-08-28)

Test scores are objective, scientific, and easy to understand--so what's the problem? It turns out that there are a lot of problems and that we would do well to try and understand them better. Daniel Koretz's Measuring Up is an excellent place to start. The book is hard to classify. It is too sophisticated to be called a primer. There are no equations, so it can't be a measurement book. (Also, it is entertaining to read.) It says good things about testing and test use and takes apart some arguments of testing opponents, so it can't be an anti-testing book. But, it raises profound challenges to the interpretation of score trends on high-stakes tests, to the meaning of achievement trend and gap reports in terms of percent proficient, to the interpretation of crossnational achievement comparisons, and to popular assumptions about testing of students in special populations (including some assumptions written into law). So, it can't be a protesting book, either...He does a great service by clarifying measurement principles in the context of widespread testing uses and misuses.
--Edward Haertel (Science 2009-01-02)

Koretz has written the book on educational testing most educators and educational policy makers have been waiting for, even if they don't know it. In a culture defined by whether one is attacking or defending the messenger, the author's endeavor is to explain what educational testing does, and does not, reveal about how students and their schools are performing...For someone looking for a good lay explanation of essential topics such as score reliability and validity, measurement error, and the relationship between high-stakes testing and score inflation, this is the book. The style is eminently readable and the topics are profoundly important.
--D. E. Tanner (Choice 2008-12-01)

About the Author

Daniel Koretz is Professor of Education at Harvard University.

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Customer Reviews

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See all 18 customer reviews
This book makes the difficult subject of assessment accessible and understandable.
Rebecca C Itow
The author does an excellent job explaining all aspects of assessment, including history and some statistics.
Jane Doe
A "must read" book for parents, administrators, superintendents, and education policy makers.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Hoffman on June 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It is incredibly hard to figure out how good a school is, especially compared to other schools. For a long time, we have used test scores to judge schools -- and even students!! But what do those scores really mean? We all remember teachers who were easy graders or hard graders, or even inconsistent graders. It turns out that "standardized tests" are no more straightforward than the grades we all got in school. Measuring Up explains how and why. Because test scores are now used as to judge students, schools and even to compare schools, this might be the single most important topic in education, certainly for non-educators and perhaps for educators as well.

The brilliant thing about this book is how clear and easy to follow it is. Educational testing is a technical field, but the author explains it in terms that those outside the field can understand. Through generous use of examples and personal anecdotes, Daniel Koretz shows both how thing work and how they fail to work. Having read this, you will not only know the ways are supposed to be, but the reality of how things really are. Koretz shares stories from his own experiences the illustrate what is really going on.

Because testing is here to stay, this book will remain a gem for many years, but it is especially timely today. NCLB is up for reauthorization soon, and testing remains the most controversial part of the law. Most of the debates about the law are about testing, and it looks like the the most active voices in the debates -- be they politicians, parents or the press -- have rather little understanding of the underlying issues.

Measuring Up does not shy from the controversial or most difficult questions about testing.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Steven L. Weinberg on February 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Professor Koretz teaches a course on standardized testing for non-statisticians at Harvard. This book is based on that course. There is no complicated math, but lots of clear explanations and easily understood examples. What I found most interesting was that much of the information about the limits of these tests came not from their critics, but from their developers. This should be required reading for all who work with the results of these tests. I only wish that more of Professor Koretz's examples had come from the California Standards Tests that I have to give each year.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Segv on October 16, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book covers all of the important material that I found covered in a Master's-Level course on Statistical Methods in Assessment, but is presented with great clarity and without the details of many of the numerical methods. I have long searched for a way to explain to those without a strong mathematical or statistical background just how complex the issues are when it comes to collecting, summarizing, and making decisions based on educational "data".

So far I have found both this book and Standardized Minds: The High Price of America's Testing Culture and What We Can Do to Change It to do a good job of this. This book is much stronger in its presentation of the statistical methods and their limitations, and it does not take sides. The latter book, which has a clear anti-testing bias, explains both the statistical difficulties and societal consequences of the way tests are currently used.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A. Koel on May 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
What will surprise you about this book is that it is fun to read! Koretz is a leader in the field of educational measurement, so it is no surprise that his book is both informative and useful. He presents an enormous amount of information - from the history of educational testing to the ways in which testing is currently used (both appropriately and inappropriately). He tells us what testing actually means for our children - what influences the scores as well as their possible repercussions. His arguments are extraordinarily clear and data driven, not doctrinaire. All this is to be expected and the book should prove useful to parents, educators and policy makers alike. But what makes this book accessible and a pleasure to read is its presentation. The author speaks in a clear, down-to-earth and - dare I say - entertaining voice. He even manages to make the statistical background clear and enjoyable. Now, that's an accomplishment! He draws on his long experience in this field as an educator and researcher (and a parent) and sprinkles the text with amusing and instructive anecdotes. (This must be the way he teaches. I would love to be a student in his class; I imagine he is both exacting and humorous.) "Measuring Up" explores a critical topic and is both informative and enjoyable! Who could ask for more? This clearly is a must read for anybody who wants to understand the current debate over testing. But, don't despair - you actually will enjoy it!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Measuring Up teaches us the design and purpose standardized testing in education and how to consume the results they offer in a considerate way. It offers commentary on high-stakes testing without being too political or preachy. Written by Harvard professor, Daniel Koretz, it is an accessible read that answers some of the most topical questions in our world of ubiquitous testing. Give it a read if you are curious about what the scores we read about really mean.
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