A Critique of Reading Assessment
Routledge – 1998 – 224 pages
Fragile Evidence--a critique of reading assessment informed by newly emerging conceptualizations of validity and reliability--brings psychometric theory, reading theory, and social critique to bear on reading assessment. Taking its lead from contemporary psychological theory and other fields which ponder the role of evidence and argumentation in making claims about social issues, this text examines the historical and contemporary ways in which such claims have been made for reading assessment. Traditional individualized and standardized tests are critiqued from a variety of perspectives. The assumptions and operational bases of contemporary revisionist assessments (e.g., large-scale performance-based assessments, authentic assessments, etc.) are considered in terms of what they include and what they omit. Collected here in one volume is a systematic analysis of several different reading assessment instruments and conceptualizations of reading assessment, with particular emphasis on the evidence of reading they provide--a type of analysis usually found only in separate articles in journals and edited volumes. This important volume:
* Offers a systematic (rather than generalized) critique of popular standardized norm-referenced group and individualized measures of reading.
*Looks at the consequential validity of standardized tests.
* Includes interviews with stakeholders who consider the question of how to describe reading without making reference to standardized tests.
* Considers how tools such as miscue analysis influence reform.
* Provides a critical analysis of contemporary reform efforts.
"This text, written for graduate or senior undergraduate students in educational assessment courses, is a most thought-provoking and useful supplementary text….This book does achieve its goal of forcefully challenging assumptions about how we assess reading. It forces us to look at the disquieting consequences of norm-referenced standardized tests and should encourage evaluators and educators to broaden their perspectives to include new means of assessing children's reading. Finally it should encourage psychologists to recognize that all evidence is 'fragile,' which in turn emphasizes their weighty role of assessors and interpreters."
"Sharon Murphy and her co-authors offer a dose of healthy scepticism regarding the extent to which any standardised test intending to assess reading can achieve what it purports to do….anyone committed to the study of teaching reading should persevere with this book in order to benefit from much that it contains."
—Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice
"Clearly one of the most important minds the field of curriculum has known, Dwayne Huebner may well be judged by future historians of the field as the most important….And after you have studied what follows, I think you will agree."
—--William F. Pinar
From the Introduction
social scientists to explore the arena of schools and issues that await there….A third layer of concern is a re-evaluation of standardized testing itself….Perhaps the most valuable part of the contextual puzzle these authors bring is their view of the real value of assessment. Where once this seemed to be a given, the authors have added a critical piece….Their argument, clearly delineated, is that we must examine the consequences of assessment for each child, for the population group or school, and decide what the assessment will mean in terms of life outcomes."
—Sally M. Oran
Northern Arizona University
Contents: Preface. Part I: Introduction. What Counts as Evidence of Reading? Evidence, Validity, and Assessment. Part II: The Validity of Standardized Tests From a Traditional Psychometric Perspective. Multiple-Choice Standardized Reading Tests in the Early 1990s. Individualized Assessment. Part III: The Validity of Standardized Tests From the Perspective of Their Use. P. Shannon, A Selective Social History of the Uses of Reading Tests. P. Johnston, The Consequences of the Use of Standardized Tests. Part IV: Moving Toward Alternatives. J. Hansen, Evaluation Is All Day, Noticing What's Happening: Multifaceted Evaluations of Readers. Toward Reform: Lessons From Miscue Analysis. Part V: Reform Initiatives. Reforms in Assessment: Perils and Possibilities. Toward a Revisioning of Reading Assessment: What Matters? Appendix: Attributes of Individualized and Group Tests Analyzed.