chapter  4
30 Pages

Social justice and the origins of educational measurement

For as long as there have been schools there have been tests of one kind or another. In fact, even before schooling was widespread, tests played a critical role in the intergenerational transmission of skills and culture (Duncan, 1984). A test can be as simple as checking in with a child to see if he is able to do what he has just been shown (e.g., ‘Tie the knot I just showed you’) or as complex as the forms of scientifically standardized mass-administered practices that are the overall focus of this book. David Tyack and James Reed explain that these kinds of mass-administered tests are far from simple and full of political and ideological significance. Nevertheless, at its most basic, some kind of testing is an essential part of all educational encounters because there is no other way to know if the learning that was intended to take place in an educational encounter has indeed taken place.