Confusing the Messenger with the Message: A Response to Bolon


  • Victor L. Willson Texas A&M University
  • Thomas Kellow University of Houston



High School Students, High Schools, Income, Mathematics Tests, Research Methodology, Statistical Analysis, Test Results


The conclusions by Bolon (2001) based on the relationship between per capita income and school mean grade 10 mathematics scores in Massachusetts and on instability in year-to-year mean school scores are criticized by us. Our concerns focus on the uninterpretable covariation of economic condition with test performance and the limitations in interpreting cross-time variability. We agree with Bolon's conclusions but consider the methodology employed inadequate to support them. We suggest alternative requirements and discuss our own previous efforts in this area.


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Author Biographies

Victor L. Willson, Texas A&M University

Victor L. Willson is Professor of Educational Psychology and Teaching, Learning and Culture, and Director of the Cognition and Instructional Technologies Laboratory, Texas A&M University. His current research interests focus on the intersections of psychometrics, children's reading development, and individual differences in cognitive measurement.

Thomas Kellow, University of Houston

J. Thomas Kellow is currently Visiting Assistant Professor in the College of Education at University of Houston. He received his Ph.D from Texas A&M in Educational Psychology, and has research interests in high-stakes testing, applied statistics, and disability studies with an emphasis on the community integration of persons with mental retardation.




How to Cite

Willson, V. L., & Kellow, T. (2002). Confusing the Messenger with the Message: A Response to Bolon. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 10, 9.