Book Review

Interpreting Standardized Test Scores: Strategies for Data-Driven Instructional Decision Making

by Craig A. Mertler, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, Calif., 2007, 272 pp. with index, $69.95 hardcover, $34.95 softcover

The title of Interpreting Standardized Test Scores: Strategies for Data-Driven Instructional Decision Making might give you flashbacks to your experiences learning what the numbers really mean that we encounter in assessment reports in our daily practice in schools.

Craig A. Mertler’s approach would reduce your stress level as his book walks the reader through the various assessments often encountered in schools and helps the reader make better use of the information embedded in accountability reports.

The book is well-organized and provides clear and thorough descriptions of the myriad terms the reader will encounter with assessments. Numerous samples of actual score reports from major assessment vendors are presented with key points highlighted to interpret the results.

While these are helpful, some superintendents may find little use for the samples of score reports that do not reflect their state or district’s assessments. Further, the activities for application and reflection at the end of each chapter are geared toward audiences that likely have little familiarity with interpreting test scores. The case studies, which include interview transcripts of teachers and principals, do not lend themselves to superintendents interested in facilitating district-level discussions with principals or central-office staff on their own assessment data.

School leaders serving as adjunct professors might find this a useful text for an introductory course in educational research or assessment.

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