Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Where are all the “Chicken Littles” now?

It was not all that long ago that I recall suffering all the jokes from the media, professors and colleagues alike regarding the meaning of No Child Left Behind or NCLB. One professor joked that it should really be called “No Testing Company Left Behind.” One reporter suggested to me that it was really “No Psychometrician Left Unemployed.” Seems like there was no dearth of wit and doomsday reckoning of “the sky is falling” regarding my industry’s capacity to meet the requirements of NCLB. With all fifty states required to implement assessments in grades 3–8 in reading and mathematics—not to mention all the other requirements of ELL, special needs students, and Peer Review—many speculated that there simply were not enough psychometricians, content developers, and other measurement experts to fulfill the need.

Well, where are these “Chicken Littles” now? Especially in light of the recent announcements by both Harcourt and CTB/McGraw-Hill regarding their substantial layoffs in their assessment divisions? While this unfortunate news was reported, I have not seen even one headline like the following: “Nay-sayers Were Wrong, Excess Capacity in Assessment Industry Confirmed.” I find our collective short-term memory and lack of dissonance for inconsistencies reported in our news media and research reports to be very disconcerting. But then I guess I have always had a different perspective.