Educational Standards and the Problem of Error


  • Noel Wilson The Flinders University of South Australia



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


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.


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Author Biography

Noel Wilson, The Flinders University of South Australia

Noel Wilson is an ex-teacher, researcher, writer who has now officially retired and lives in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia. He still writes stories and novels which search in vain for publishers. He is delighted that his mind works better now at seventy than it did at forty. Every now and then he has a little foray back into the educational field. He is a long odds optimist because he believes that sooner or later schools will get better. And he'd be pleased to engage in dialogue about this thesis. For more specifics about the author, read Chapter 2.




How to Cite

Wilson, N. (1998). Educational Standards and the Problem of Error. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 6, 10.