Xinping Zhang

The traditional approach to assessment in education relies on three basic mechanisms: the first is its focus on the authority of the assessors, assuming that they who make judgements of others are the wiser, more capable, and superior, while those who are being judged are ignorant, incompetent, and inferior; the second is its emphasis on an objective, scientific approach to evaluating performance, as if the more loyal the evaluation is to measurement-based evidence, the more accurate the conclusion; the third is its focus on the inadequacy of the persons being assessed, pointing out where they are at fault, and showing them their shortcomings. In Beyond the Tyranny of Testing, Gergen and Gill not only challenge all three mechanisms, and critique their dehumanising effects, but more importantly, they propose a relational orientation to evaluation that provides a truly transformative vision of education. By highlighting that education is fundamentally relational, Gergen and Gill convincingly argue that evaluation must accordingly be conceived as a relational process. This leads to their proposing relational evaluation as collaborative meaning-making, valuing, and co-inquiry. As they illustrate, such a relational orientation can profoundly transform classroom practices, teachers’ professional development, and whole school evaluation. Beyond the Tyranny of Testing thus has the potential to revolutionise education, and I am convinced that it is most timely for such a revolution to happen. In particular, this would replace hierarchy with collaboration and dialogue, measurement with the co-creation of meaning, and the deficit view of persons with an appreciation of multiplicity and difference. This book can heal the trauma suffered by learners and educators under the system of traditional assessment, and bring new hope to the world

— Professor, Xinping Zhang, Dean, Nanjing Normal University, China