The Standardized Testing Primer provides non-specialists with a thorough overview of this controversial and complicated topic. It eschews the statistical details of scaling, scoring, and measurement that are widely available in textbooks and at testing organization Web sites, and instead describes standardized testing's social and political roles and its practical uses-who tests, when, where, and why. Topics include: an historical background of testing's practical uses in psychology, education, and the workplace; the varied structures of educational testing programs and systems across countries; the mechanics of test development and quality assurance; and current trends in test development and administration. A glossary and bibliography are also provided. The Standardized Testing Primer is an ideal text for teaching this subject to undergraduate and graduate students.
Rather than following developers who tout the benefits of standardizing testing or opponents who focus on what they see as failure, independent scholar Phelps explains its social and political implications and practical uses. He explains to non-specialists how and why such tests developed as ways to measure both aptitude and achievement, and how those applications soon diverged. He explains the early effects of testing in education, in which the results were largely ignored, and how educators began to refine and use high-stakes tests in public and higher education for a variety of purposes, including assessment of schools as much as students. He describes how developers create tests and work on quality assurance, and lists the potential risks (such as marginalization of certain groups) and benefits (such as correcting for upward grade drift) of standardized testing. Phelps's list of resources is particularly helpful.