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Testing Controversy A Rhetoric of Educational Reform by Kendall Phillips

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Code: 1-57273-473-6

This book offers an extensive reading of the controversies surrounding educational testing between the early 1970s and late 1990s. It focuses attention on the challenges to standardized testing, the emergence of performance-based and outcome-based education, and the eventual decline of these reform efforts. What makes the book unique is its attention to the rhetoric of educational reform, the way these reforms were talked about, proposed and challenged. The analysis covers discussions of educational testing occurring in psychometric literatures, political arenas, popular press accounts, and professional educational forums. The book suggests that educational controversies can be understood by attending to the terminology used and the discursive logic underlying these terms. So, in the account offered, ideas like “Accountability” or “Outcomes” are not just vague concepts, but embody a whole way of think about, practicing, and evaluating education. It is these terms that become the heart of the book, a detailed history about how one logic of education, based on Accountability, gets contested, overthrown and how its successor, based on Performance, fares in the tumultuous world of educational politics. Readers interested in educational testing, educational policy or educational practice will find this book offers a valuable perspective on the powerful effect of rhetoric on our conception of education and its evaluation. The educational practitioner, teachers and administrators, will find this a useful recounting of the rise and fall of performance-based assessment. Finally, the reader interested in rhetoric and social movements will find a worthwhile example of a rhetorical perspective on social controversies and reforms. Year: 2004 Pages: 178

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