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Insider Exposes Standardized Testing Industry

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A new book titled Making the Grades: My Misadventures in the Standardized Testing Industry by Todd Farley has been a long-time coming, and it looks like it may have been worth the wait. (You can read the first 12 pages at the link provided.)

What follows is more info from the press release, followed by pre-publication endorsements from two gentlemen who may be familiar to you. If, per chance they are not, grab their books, too!

Sausalito, CA–Standardized testing is no laughing matter. Certainly not to the students who show up on the appointed day, alert and with No.

Beneath the humor of Farley’s story lies the serious and sobering questions about the validity of large-scale assessments.

Beneath the humor of Farley’s story lies the serious and sobering questions about the validity of large-scale assessments.

2 pencils in hand; nor to the educators who often help devise test questions, and devote their time helping students prepare for the exams; nor to the administrators who rely on school funding based on students’ test results.

Enter Todd Farley, a 27 year old, struggling, part-time grad student living in Iowa City, and running dangerously low on cash. When Farley accepted a job at a standardized test scoring company, after a mere four hours his first day on the job, he realized what a joke standardized testing really is.

Readers will chuckle aloud when they read Farley’s account of his inadvertent—but long-standing career in the standardized testing industry in Making the Grades: My Misadventures in the Standardized Testing Industry (PoliPointPress, October 2009). This memoir documents the author’s experiences in K-12 testing, and concentrates on the people who have the greatest effect on it—most importantly scorers, those temporary employees who toil away reading student responses for low hourly wages and no benefits, and who hold a disproportionate amount of power over a student’s future.

Farley also rebukes psychometricians, the omnipotent statisticians who make decisions about students without even looking at their test answers; state education officials willing to change the way tests are scored whenever they don’t like the results; and massive, multi-national, for-profit testing companies who regularly opt for expediency and profit over the altruistic educational goals of teaching and learning.

Beneath the humor of Farley’s story lies the serious and sobering questions about the validity of large-scale assessments, the irony of the fact that the “No Child Left Behind” Act uses the phrase “scientifically-based research” more than one hundred times when discussing standardized testing, and the discovery about how the players in the industry ultimately decide the fate of students, teachers, and schools.

For anyone who has ever questioned this country’s emphasis on such large-scale assessments, Making the Grades will provide endless ammunition as to the folly of choosing tests over teachers when it comes to student learning and the state of education in the U.S.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Todd Farley earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and then spent fifteen years in the standardized testing industry. He worked for the biggest companies (including ETS and Pearson Education) on the biggest K-12 tests (including the National Assessment of Educational Progress). Today Farley is a freelance writer; Making the Grades is his first book.

“This book is dynamite! The nice personal voice (biting anger, conveyed with delicious humor) makes it utterly accessible and enticing—i.e. a good story, wholly apart from the terribly important ammunition it provides to those of us in the ‘testing wars’ at national and local levels.”
–Jonathan Kozol, National Book Award winner for Savage Inequalities

“If you’re going to hand out, allow your child to take, or judge a student (or a school) on the basis of standardized tests, you need to read this hair-raising account of how—and by whom—they are scored. This is the kind of book you’ll be telling your friends they’ve simply got to read. But it’s the politicians, and others who confuse high test scores with good news, who really must do so because Farley’s tell-all insider account offers a devastating indictment of the whole ‘accountability’ agenda that’s driving our schools.”
— Alfie Kohn, author of The Case Against Standardized Testing

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