Test Invalidated over Directions Goof

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Scores on the Program for International Student Assessment tests taken by thousands of American 15-year-olds last fall were voided because of errors on the test itself.


Sorry, our bad. Scores on the Program for the International Student Assessment tests that were taken by 5,600 American 15-year-olds last fall have had to be officially invalidated. The test directions were not proofreaded - kind of the thing you think could never happen here, huh, either by the contractor, RTI International, or the Department of Education.

The test is designed to measure the progress of U.S. students against those in 56 other countries where, apparently, the test has been administered without this kind of mishap. The pages in the test book were numbered incorrectly. So when students were told to consult a text on the opposite page, it was actually on a previous one.

RTI International will reimburse the Department of Education half a million dollars for their mistake. Mark Schneider of the department told the New York Times that the testing industry is stretched to provide and score valid tests, but he refused to blame to the mistake on that. A good copy editor would have caught this in 10 seconds, he said.

If you'd like to hear more, come to our Web site, npr.orj. Hey, didn't anyone proofreaded this?

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from