Book Reviews

Measuring Up: What Educational Testing Really Tells Us

by Daniel Koretz, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2008, 368 pp., $29.95 hardcover

In Measuring Up: What Educational Testing Really Tells Us, Daniel Koretz offers a comprehensive and understandable discussion of the basic issues with testing and how they relate to controversial issues such as high-stakes testing and testing students with limited English proficiency.

The text was inspired by a popular Harvard course for students without an in-depth background in mathematics, and it excels at helping nontechnical professionals examine and interpret the often hidden and intricate issues when dealing with education testing. Along with reducing the complexity of the subject, Koretz’s main goals are to help the reader avoid common mistakes when using tests and their results in education and develop skill in interpreting and applying test results appropriately.

The organization of the book walks the reader through many of the common issues with testing, with chapters titled “What Is a Test” and “What We Measure: Just How Good We Sample,” as well as chapters on reliability and validity. What sets Measuring Up apart from other testing primers is Koretz’s detailed and engaging examples of the basic and underlying issues of concepts in education testing. His discussions are not filled with “stat-speak” and the typical meas-urement definitions. Rather, he uses a conversational tone.

School administrators would be wise to spend time working through the chapters “What Influences Test Scores, or How Not to Pick a School” and “Reporting Performance: Standards and Scales,” topics always popular with community members, especially our critics.

With the continued emphasis on accountability in education and the impact that testing and its outcomes have on our roles and profession, having a solid understanding of the fundamental issues of testing is crucial. Koretz’s book can serve as a good first step in mastering the complexities and nuances.

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