Educational Standards and the Problem of Error

Noel Wilson


This study is about the categorisation of people in educational settings. It is clearly positioned from the perspective of the person categorised, and is particularly concerned with the violations involved when the error components of such categorisations are made invisible. Such categorisations are important. The study establishes the centrality of the measurement of educational standards to the production and control of the individual in society, and indicates the destabilising effect of doubts about the accuracy of such categorisations. Educational measurement is based on the notion of error, yet both the literature and practice of educational assessment trivialises that error. The study examines in detail how this trivialisation and obfuscation is accomplished. In particular the notion of validity is examined and is seen to be an advocacy for the examiner, for authority. The notion of invalidity has therefore been reconceptualised in a way that enables epistemological and ontological slides, and other contradictions and confusions to be highlighted, so that more genuine estimates of categorisation error might be specified.


Classification; Educational Assessment; Educational Environment; Elementary Secondary Education; Error of Measurement; Measurement Techniques; Research Methodology; Standards

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