Through the Looking Glass

K-12 Testing

If the impact of a movement can be accurately judged by its opponents, assessment reform advocates have dominated the debate over high-stakes standardized exams.


That’s the core argument of Kill the Messenger: The War on Standardized Testing by columnist Richard Phelps, who believes, “What we need is more testing rather than less – and more willingness to act on the results of those tests.” According to Phelps, groups such as FairTest, the Center for the Study of Testing, Evaluation and Public Policy at Boston College, and the Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing hold the advantage of “having the stage to oneself” because journalists “talk only to advocates on one side of the story.”


Phelps spends more than 250 pages attacking the arguments of this anti-testing cabal. His case is often undermined by ideological rhetoric, such as “The research on testing in the professional ‘mainstream’ of education has become so corrupted that no one interested in accurate information should take any of it at face value.”


Kill the Messenger is worth reading only to see how the most extreme testing advocates think.


* Transaction Publishers, 2003. $35.00