Metrics and Behaviorism
Mark Garrison is a helluva guy. He lists scholar, activist, evaluator and artist as his businesses, and lists two books and three albums among his achievements. He has clearly put a whole lot of thought into the current state of education policy, with a particular sharp eye for the problems of Trying To Measure Stuff. Garrison says many things I agree with, but he says it all smarter.
In "Metric Morality," Garrison addresses the issue of just what can be measured, and why the current educational measurements are doomed to fail. I love this stuff, because it cuts to why the whole concept of educational metrics is, as he puts it, "fraudulent."
"They confound properties of individuals, individual schools and individual school systems with the relations those individuals, individual schools and individual school systems have with their social contexts." In other words, they talk about qualities like "wetness" as being properties of the individual and not as they are related to whether one is standing inside, under an umbrella, or outside naked in a monsoon.
They "follow the long discredited practice of defining the object of measurement 'operationally'; that is, things and phenomena are defined by how they are 'measured'." Garrison's example is perfect-- the definition of "intelligence" is the ability to do well on an intelligence test. Yay, tautology.
They use the "flawed definition" of measurement which is the process of assigning numbers CURMUDGUCATION: Metrics and Behaviorism: