Why is testing so critical?

Stein begins by identifying testing as a focus point in education (evidence: nothing else gets as much news coverage) because:

  • many testing practices violate basic civil rights of students and teachers
  • Testing (unlike curricula or resources) cannot be easily subverted
  • This follows from thier "objective/scientific" nature

but also these measures can be used to combat injustice, by identifiying failings of the system, and measuring the efficacy of their remidies.

Stein identifies this as a core narrative around testing:

through the use of objective measurement we can better administer justice as well as make the educational system more scientific. This book is, in part, an argument that this idea is important and correct. However, this book is also an argument that the same objective tests that are necessary for administering justice can become instru- ments of injustice when they are misused.

The core idea here is that testing is a powerful tool, but it has outcomes directly related to it's design not just the intent of how it's wielded.

Loose Notes

  • Apple 2001 points out its way easier to turn a school system to a marketplace given a single set of standards + testing (me: is a marketplace inevitable given?)


  • John Rawls
  • Bowles and Gintis
  • Michael Apple
built with nextjs, mdx, and typescript view source