Book Review

Everything School Leaders Need to Know About Assessment

by W. James Popham, Corwin, Thousand Oaks, Calif., 2010, 224 pp., $30.95 softcover

Given the current climate of accountability in our nation, superintendents' toolboxes should include a solid understanding of the many forms of assessment. Everything School Leaders Need to Know About Assessment by W. James Popham offers a practical discussion and explanation of educational assessment concepts and procedures that affect a school or district's outcomes.

The text covers a selection of the most important concepts in assessment such as validity, reliability, bias and instructional sensitivity. Popham's inclusion of chapters on rubrics, formative assessment and effects on students is a great change from other compendiums on assessment. The author excels at taking technical concepts and applying them to instruction and real issues in schools.

Of great help to the busy administrator is Popham's set of crucial understandings in each chapter that detail the essential ideas. The chapter titled "Top 20 Crucial Understandings about Educational Assessment" reviews all the critical content and serves as a refresher on topics of importance. Each chapter contains an annotated bibliography and recommendations for further reading.

Popham says his book is not intended "to teach readers how to perform assessment-related procedures," but rather it is focused on ensuring the reader can understand and apply these concepts to daily practice.

Reviewed by Lane B. Mills, associate professor of educational leadership, East Carolina University, Greenville, N.C.