Economic Perspective on Testing

I found an intriguing power point slide about the benefits of standardized tests (Economic Perspectives On Testing). This proves to be useful later on when I read a book with the subtitle of: False Promises of Testing. Essentially, the presentation outlines how the years forfeited to pursue higher education yields returns in higher wages. From a public finance perspective, the gains of encouraging attendance to post-secondary institutions through grants and funding result in a greater skilled work force, more people with a higher earning power and thus perpetuating economic growth. The reoccurring pattern is that education is a business model, and the most important figure in business models are returns. The scores from these tests no longer reflect learning but instead they are returns from an investment. Tax-payers want to know they are sending their children to the highest ranked university. Employers want to know they are hiring trainable employees, they want credentials and a plan to climb the corporate ladder. The board wants teachers to be coaches. Then statistics are showing that external high-states examinations are beneficial. The ministry views them as a good way to diagnose, align learning, ensure good will of lessons, and depend on the predictive validity of the results so they can allocate funds efficiently. With all the media surrounding ranking results of schools and the flurry of data to attribute them to contextual data, it is no wonder that their use has been firmly cemented into the education system. Has anyone stood up to challenge their validity and actually get any attention?

Phelps, R. “Economic Perspectives on Testing.” 2001. Web. Accessed November 2011.