Social Justice and Educational Measurement: John Rawls, the history of testing, and the future of education, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Social Justice and Educational Measurement

John Rawls, the history of testing, and the future of education, 1st Edition

By Zachary Stein


220 pages

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Social Justice and Educational Measurement addresses foundational concerns at the interface of standardized testing and social justice in American schools. Following John Rawls’s philosophical methods, Stein builds and justifies an ethical framework for guiding practices involving educational measurement. This framework demonstrates that educational measurement can both inhibit and ensure just educational arrangements. It also clarifies a principled distinction between efficiency-oriented testing and justice-oriented testing.

Through analysis of several historical case studies that exemplify ethical issues related to testing, this book explores and propounds speculative design principles and arguments in favour of radically democratic school reforms, which address how the future of testing might be shaped to ensure justice for all. These case studies cover the widespread use of IQ-style testing in schools during the early decades of the 20th century; the founding of the Educational Testing Service; and the recent history of test-based accountability associated with No Child Left Behind.

Social Justice and Educational Measurement will be essential reading for academics, researchers and postgraduate students in education, testing and assessment, and the philosophy of education. It will also be of interest to policymakers and educational administrators.


Praise for Social Justice and Educational Measurement by Zachary Stein:

'In this highly original and powerful book, Zak Stein examines today's educational testing movement in light of classical philosophical perspectives on justice.'

Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, ?Harvard Graduate School of Education

'Social Justice and Educational Mesurement provides a powerful argument that properly constructed, properly used standardized tests can be a force for social justice rather than an impediment to it.'

Catherine Z. Elgin, Professor of the Philosophy of Education?, Harvard Graduate School of Education

'Zak Stein’s book is more than simply a work of genius, it is one of the most important books of the last decade. Stein addresses a profoundly significant societal issue -- educational measurement and social justice…. Ultimately, Stein sees testing infrastructures as basic structures of society that require radical reworking and redesign. Stein’s book will be a landmark text shaping these redesign efforts in the decades to come. Everyone needs to read this book.'

Michael Hogan, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, National University of Ireland, Galway

'This book is a welcome and much needed deepening of the philosophical, ethical, and political discussions surrounding standardized testing. Not only does it offer a fascinating introduction for educators to one of the 20th century's most important ethical theorists, John Rawls, it does so in the context of the history of testing, from the IQ through the SAT to NCLB. Anyone interested in the future of our educational system will benefit from reading this important book.'

Scott Barry Kaufman, Scientific Director of the Imagination Institute, University of Pennsylvania, Author of Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined

'Stein’s accomplishment in Social Justice and Educational Measurement is impressive. He provides the reader with a penetrating critical analysis of the educational system in the United States. The position developed is philosophy at its best. From a Rawlsian ethical perspective, he demonstrates that the American educational system has been at times both unethical and unjust, undermining learning and healthy personal development. Directly under scrutiny is the history of standardized testing and “accountability,” as well as the emerging forms of resistance and activism being initiated by those enduring inhumane conditions in our schools. Stein does not stop at his devastating normative critique; he issues an urgent call for political action and change.'

Hans G. Despain, Chair of Economics and Honors Program, Nichols College

Table of Contents

Preface: the personal is political Introduction: tipping the scales: social justice, the philosophy of education, and standardized testing 1. Social justice and institutionalized measurement 2. Social justice and education 3. A theory of just educational measurement 4. Social justice and the origins of educational measurement 5. Social justice and the rise of national testing infrastructures Conclusion: Social justice and the future of testing

About the Author

Zachary Stein was educated at Hampshire College and Harvard University. He is the chair of the education program at Meridian University and the Academic Director of the activist think-tank at the Centre for Integral Wisdom.

About the Series

New Directions in the Philosophy of Education

This book series is devoted to the exploration of new directions in the philosophy of education. After the linguistic turn, the cultural turn, and the historical turn, where might we go? Does the future promise a digital turn with a greater return to connectionism, biology and biopolitics based on new understandings of system theory and knowledge ecologies? Does it foreshadow a genuinely alternative radical global turn based on a new openness and interconnectedness? Does it leave humanism behind or will it reengage with the question of the human in new and unprecedented ways? How should philosophy of education reflect new forces of globalization? How can it become less Anglo-centric and develop a greater sensitivity to other traditions, languages, and forms of thinking and writing, including those that are not routed in the canon of Western philosophy but in other traditions that share the ‘love of wisdom’ that characterizes the wide diversity within Western philosophy itself. Can this be done through a turn to intercultural philosophy? To indigenous forms of philosophy and philosophizing? Does it need a post-Wittgensteinian philosophy of education? A postpostmodern philosophy? Or should it perhaps leave the whole construction of 'post'-positions behind?

In addition to the question of the intellectual resources for the future of philosophy of education, what are the issues and concerns that philosophers of education should engage with? How should they position themselves? What is their specific contribution? What kind of intellectual and strategic alliances should they pursue? Should philosophy of education become more global, and if so, what would the shape of that be? Should it become more cosmopolitan or perhaps more decentred? Perhaps most importantly in the digital age, the time of the global knowledge economy that reprofiles education as privatized human capital and simultaneously in terms of an historic openness, is there a philosophy of education that grows out of education itself, out of the concerns for new forms of teaching, studying, learning and speaking that can provide comment on ethical and epistemological configurations of economics and politics of knowledge? Can and should this imply a reconnection with questions of democracy and justice?

This series comprises texts that explore, identify and articulate new directions in the philosophy of education. It aims to build bridges, both geographically and temporally: bridges across different traditions and practices and bridges towards a different future for philosophy of education.

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