The Myth Of Achievement Tests: The Ged And The Role Of Character In American Life by James J. HeckmanThe Myth Of Achievement Tests: The Ged And The Role Of Character In American Life by James J. Heckman

The Myth Of Achievement Tests: The Ged And The Role Of Character In American Life

EditorJames J. Heckman, John Eric Humphries, Tim Kautz

Paperback | September 18, 2015

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 220 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


Achievement tests play an important role in modern societies. They are used to evaluate schools, to assign students to tracks within schools, and to identify weaknesses in student knowledge. The GED is an achievement test used to grant the status of high school graduate to anyone who passes it. GED recipients currently account for 12 percent of all high school credentials issued each year in the United States. But do achievement tests predict success in life?

The Myth of Achievement Tests shows that achievement tests like the GED fail to measure important life skills. James J. Heckman, John Eric Humphries, Tim Kautz, and a group of scholars offer an in-depth exploration of how the GED came to be used throughout the United States and why our reliance on it is dangerous. Drawing on decades of research, the authors show that, while GED recipients score as well on achievement tests as high school graduates who do not enroll in college, high school graduates vastly outperform GED recipients in terms of their earnings, employment opportunities, educational attainment, and health. The authors show that the differences in success between GED recipients and high school graduates are driven by character skills. Achievement tests like the GED do not adequately capture character skills like conscientiousness, perseverance, sociability, and curiosity. These skills are important in predicting a variety of life outcomes. They can be measured, and they can be taught.
Using the GED as a case study, the authors explore what achievement tests miss and show the dangers of an educational system based on them. They call for a return to an emphasis on character in our schools, our systems of accountability, and our national dialogue.

Eric Grodsky, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Andrew Halpern-Manners, Indiana University Bloomington
Paul A. LaFontaine, Federal Communications Commission
Janice H. Laurence, Temple University
Lois M. Quinn, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
Pedro L. Rodríguez, Institute of Advanced Studies in Administration
John Robert Warren, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
James J. Heckman is a Nobel Prize–winning economist and the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Chicago. He is the director of the Economics Research Center at the University of Chicago and codirector of the Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group, an ini...
Title:The Myth Of Achievement Tests: The Ged And The Role Of Character In American LifeFormat:PaperbackDimensions:472 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.2 inPublished:September 18, 2015Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022632480X

ISBN - 13:9780226324807

Look for similar items by category:


Table of Contents


Part I. Introduction

1 Achievement Tests and the Role of Character in American Life
James J. Heckman and Tim Kautz

Part II. The History of the GED

2 An Institutional History of the GED
Lois M. Quinn

3 Growth in GED Testing
John Eric Humphries

Part III. Evaluating the Benefits

4 Who Are the GEDs?
James J. Heckman, John Eric Humphries, and Tim Kautz

5 The Economic and Social Benefits of GED Certification
James J. Heckman, John Eric Humphries, and Tim Kautz

6 The Military Performance of GED Holders
Janice H. Laurence

Part IV. The GED Creates Problems

7 The GED Testing Program Induces Students to Drop Out
James J. Heckman, John Eric Humphries, Paul A. LaFontaine, and Pedro L. Rodríguez

8 High- Stakes Testing and the Rise of the GED
Andrew Halpern- Manners, John Robert Warren, and Eric Grodsky

Part V. What Can Be Done to Promote Character?

9 Fostering and Mea sur ing Skills: Interventions That Improve Character and Cognition
James J. Heckman and Tim Kautz

10 What Should Be Done?
James J. Heckman, John Eric Humphries, and Tim Kautz

List of Contributors

Editorial Reviews

“Essential. . . . An insightful, balanced, comprehensive, and critical examination of a test that many proponents of standardized tests overlook. . . . The work questions how the GED is granted equivalent status to a high school diploma and examines how faith in standardized tests is sometimes misplaced.”