Last updated on: 5/17/2012 | Author:

Richard P. Phelps, PhD Biography

Testing scholar and economist
Pro to the question "Do Standardized Tests Improve Education in America?"

“Standardized tests do not, and cannot, produce perfect measures, and no one claims that they can…

The measures are used, despite their imperfections, because in most situations in science as well as in life some information for making decisions is better than none. Useful measures provide information whose benefits outweigh any cost and imprecision, and whose positive net benefits exceed those of any practical alternative…

Without high-stakes standardized testing, we would increase our reliance on teacher grading and testing. Are teacher evaluations free of standardized testing’s alleged failings? No. Individual teachers can narrow the curriculum to that which they prefer. Grades are susceptible to inflation with ordinary teachers, as students get to know a teacher better and learn his idiosyncrasies. A teacher’s (or school’s) grades and test scores are far more likely to be idiosyncratic and non-generalizable than any standardized tests.”

Standardized Testing Primer, 2007

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Testing scholar and economist
  • Director of Research and Strategic Resources, The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), Aug. 2011-present
  • Director of Assessments, DC Public Schools, Feb. 2010-Nov. 2010
  • Director, Policy Research, ACT, Inc., May 2007-Nov. 2009
  • Manager of Technical Reports at Pearson Evaluation Systems, 2003-2006
  • Research Fellow, Educational Testing Service, Sep. 2002-Sep. 2003
  • Senior Study Director, Westat, Jan. 2000-Aug. 2002
  • Coordinator, World Education Indicators Programme, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Sep. 1998-Jan. 2000
  • Senior Research Analyst, American Institutes for Research, Jan. 1993-Nov. 1998
  • Project Director, GAO (US Government Accountability Office), May 1991-Jan. 1993
  • Research Associate, Harvard Business School, July 1987-June 1988
  • Professeur de Mathematiques, Seminaire St. Augustin, Baskoure, Burkina Faso, Sep. 1984-June 1986
  • Congressional District Coordinator (7th IN) at Bread for the World, 1978-1983
  • Research & Evaluation Coordinator, Indiana Education Department, Sep. 1978-June 1983
  • PhD, Public Policy, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, 2001
  • MPP, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 1987
  • MA, History, Indiana University Bloomington, 1977
  • BA, History, Washington University in St. Louis, 1975
  • Attended Bishop DuBourg High School, St. Louis, MO, 1967-1971
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