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The Politics of Testing When Measures “Go Public”


by Jeffrey R. Henig — 2013

Background/Context: Validity issues are often discussed in technical terms, but the context changes when measures enter broad public debate, and a wider range of interests come into play.

Purpose: This article, part of a special section of TCR, considers the political dimensions of validity questions as raised by a keynote address and panel discussion originally held at Teachers College in March 2012.

Research Design: This is an analytical and reflective piece, based on the author’s participation in the panel and drawing on his experience and writing on the broad issue of politics and research.

Conclusions: Technical expertise in the construction and interpretation of measurements is important in the new world of high-stakes and “evidence-based” education policy, but the political realities, when measures go public, make the exclusive reliance on such expertise problematic.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 115 Number 9, 2013, p. 1-11
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17108, Date Accessed: 12/16/2017 10:02:08 AM

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About the Author
  • Jeffrey Henig
    Teachers College
    JEFFREY R. HENIG is a professor of political science and education and Chair of the Department of Educational Policy and Social Analysis at Teachers College, and a professor of political science at Columbia University. He is the author or coauthor of eight books, including The Color of School Reform: Race, Politics and the Challenge of Urban Education (Princeton, 1999) and Building Civic Capacity: The Politics of Reforming Urban Schools (Kansas, 2001), both of which were named—in 1999 and 2001, respectively—the best book written on urban politics by the Urban Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. Spin Cycle: How Research Gets Used in Policy Debates: The Case of Charter Schools (Russell Sage, 2008) won the American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) Outstanding Book Award in 2010. Most recently, he is co-editor and contributor to Between Public and Private: Politics, Governance and the New Portfolio Models for Urban School Reform (Harvard Education Press, 2010).
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