Who's Covering The Testing Industry?

I read today's NYT Winerip column (Watchdog of Test Industry Faces Economic Extinction)-- and the "We're not dead yet" response from FairTest -- with mixed feelings.

As longtime readers of this site know (How “Fringe” is FairTest? Very., Like Asking Quakers About Iraq), I have long thought that FairTest had been generally overused by education reporters and had become a marginalized and extreme part of the testing and standards debate in education.

And yet, it's clear that the world of testing is something that most reporters and the public know too little about.

How interesting that the piece comes during the same week that the Washington Post's Jay Mathews writes about the need for the press and public to rethink attitudes towards testing ('Teaching to the test' can be a good thing, too).

How ironic that the piece quotes Tom Toch, whose most recent report on the testing industry (Testing industry overwhelmed under NCLB) was undoubtedly helped behind the scenes by the folks at FairTest and would have been -- should have been -- just the type of thing that FairTest could have undertaken on their own. If FairTest had been doing its job (as I would have defined it), Toch's report would have come from FairTest, and the Education Sector would be doing something else.

UPDATE: Mike over at Intercepts wonders how Winerip chooses which groups to fundraise for: Winerip Spoonfeeds a Watchdog Group.

UPDATE 2: Andy over at Eduwonk calls the column "source greasing" for Winerip's "favorite idea mill" but doesn't acknowledge the role FairTest may have played in helped with the EdSector report or the fact that the Sector has moved into the space FairTest abandoned.

UPDATE 3: Over at the Dayton Daily News' Get On The Bus, Sean Elliot writes that I shouldn't have chided reporters for over-using FairTest and that he hopes the organization survives (Test companies need a watchdog). I agree -- I just think that there are other, more balanced experts on testing and assessment that journalists should turn to.


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