By Willard Dix
If you’ve never had the pleasure of arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin or if you can’t get enough of graphs, charts, tables, endnotes and obscure equations, you might try reading Measuring Success: Testing, Grades, and the Future of College Admissions, edited by Jack Buckley, Lynn Letukas and Ben Wildavsky. It’s a collection of eleven papers purporting to debate the value of standardized testing in the college admission process. After reading it, one might reasonably ask what the point of the exercise was, since it appears the “debate” had a foregone conclusion.
Let’s first stipulate that this book is not for the general reader, but for the theologians and alchemists of the testing and admission industries comfortable with magical symbols and runes designed to communicate the secrets of the order to each other. If you are one of those people, you’ll find plenty to enjoy, and more power to you. But you won’t find anything conclusive to answer the question of whether standardized testing is valuable or not, either.