Has K–12 education fallen for a testing charade? - AEI

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Event Summary

On Wednesday, AEI hosted Harvard Professor Daniel Koretz to discuss his new book, “The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better” (University of Chicago Press, 2017).

In his remarks, Dr. Koretz argued that, on the whole, the negatives of our educational obsession with test-based accountability far outweigh the positives. Although assessment is an important tool, Dr. Koretz warned, unrealistic goals around high-stakes testing have led to lower-quality instruction, gamesmanship, and even wide-scale cheating.

Dr. Koretz was joined by Nina Rees of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the Brookings Institution’s Russ Whitehurst, and AEI’s Frederick M. Hess, who discussed the book’s arguments regarding testing and accountability.

—Grant Addison

Event Description

In his new book, “The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better” (University of Chicago Press, 2017), Daniel Koretz, one of the nation’s leading experts on testing, argues that our education system suffers from a myopic focus on high-stakes testing that is misguided and bad for schools and students.

Join AEI on Wednesday, September 27, as Dr. Koretz discusses his book, and an expert panel debates the work’s key points.

Join the conversation on social media with #TestingCharade.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


2:45 PM

3:00 PM
Frederick M. Hess, AEI

3:05 PM
Daniel Koretz, Harvard University

3:30 PM

Daniel Koretz, Harvard University
Nina Rees, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
Russ Whitehurst, Brookings Institution

Frederick M. Hess, AEI

4:05 PM

4:15 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Grant Addison at [email protected], 202.862.7181.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries or to register a camera crew, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829

Frederick M. Hess is a resident scholar and the director of Education Policy Studies at AEI, where he works on K–12 and higher education issues. He is also the author of the popular Education Week blog Rick Hess Straight Up and has served as executive editor of Education Next since 2001. Before joining AEI, Dr. Hess was a high school social studies teacher. He has also taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown, Rice, and Harvard University. As an educator, political scientist, and author, Dr. Hess is often published in scholarly outlets, such as American Politics Quarterly, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Educational Leadership, The Harvard Educational Review, Phi Delta Kappan, Social Science Quarterly, Teachers College Record, and Urban Affairs Review. His work has also appeared in The Atlantic, National Affairs, National Review, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and US News & World Report. His books include the forthcoming “Letters to a Young Education Reformer” (Harvard Education Press, 2017), “The Cage-Busting Teacher” (Harvard Education Press, 2015), “Breakthrough Leadership in the Digital Age” (Corwin, 2014), “Cage-Busting Leadership” (Harvard Education Press, 2013), “The Same Thing Over and Over” (Harvard University Press, 2010), “Education Unbound” (ASCD, 2010), “Common Sense School Reform” (St. Martin’s Press Griffin, 2004), “Revolution at the Margins” (Brookings Institution Press, 2002), and “Spinning Wheels” (Brookings Institution Press, 1998). Dr. Hess has also edited influential works on the Common Core, entrepreneurship in education, education philanthropy, the impact of education research, and the Every Student Succeeds Act. The lead faculty member for the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program, Dr. Hess also sits on the review board for the Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools and serves on the boards of directors of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and 4.0 Schools. Dr. Hess has an M.A. and a Ph.D. in government, as well as an M.Ed. in teaching and curriculum, from Harvard University.

Daniel Koretz is the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Education at Harvard University. His research focuses on educational assessment and education policy, particularly the effects of high-stakes testing on educational practice and the problem of score inflation. He has also investigated the assessment of students with disabilities, international differences in the variability of student performance, alternatives to traditional college admissions testing, and the application of value-added models to educational achievement. His current work focuses on variations in score inflation across types of students and schools, the relationships between test scores and later outcomes, and the design and evaluation of “self-monitoring assessments.” He is a member of the National Academy of Education and a fellow of the American Educational Research Association.

Nina Rees is the president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement. She has more than 20 years of experience in Washington, DC, most recently as senior vice president for strategic initiatives for Knowledge Universe (KU), a leading global education company with investments in early childhood education, before- and after-school programs, and online instruction. Before her tenure at KU, she served as the first assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement at the US Department of Education. Before moving to the Education Department, Ms. Rees served as deputy assistant for domestic policy to the vice president at the White House. She has appeared on various news outlets including Bloomberg, CNBC, C-SPAN, and “PBS NewsHour.”

Russ Whitehurst is a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, where he carries out work on education policy and is the editor of Evidence Speaks. As the founding director of the Institute of Education Sciences in the US Department of Education, he is widely acknowledged to have had a transforming effect on the rigor and relevance of education research. In his earlier career as a developmental psychologist, he carried out seminal research on early literacy, language development, and preschool education. Dialogic Reading, a program he developed to enhance language development in children from low-income families, is used in preschools around the world. He is a recipient of numerous professional awards, including the Microsoft Innovators in Higher Education Award, the Peter H. Rossi Award of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, and the Robert Boruch Award of the Campbell Collaboration.

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