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Henry Chauncey

An American Life

Series:

Norbert Elliot

A leader in twentieth-century education, Henry Chauncey (1905–2002) introduced large-scale assessment into the lives of individual Americans. This first full-length educational biography examines Chauncey’s education at Groton School, Ohio State University, and Harvard College, his position as a teacher at William Penn Charter School, and his role as founding president of the Educational Testing Service. Documenting a career extending from the Great Depression through the end of the Cold War, this book provides an interpretative history of educational measurement through the careers of Chauncey and his contemporaries. As researcher, administrator, and writer, Chauncey dealt with topics central to the history of schools and schooling: the role of accountability in education; the value of individual difference; the identification of talent; the necessity of international perspectives; the resonance between technology and learning; and the impulse for social justice. This biography provides insight into the multidisciplinary factors that shaped the social enterprise of American education.

«‘Henry Chauncey: An American Life’ is a painstaking biography of a remarkable man and his ancestors. As the first president of the Educational Testing Service, Chauncey oversaw the rapid growth of an organization that touched the lives of millions of students who took entrance examinations required by undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools. From its early focus on college admissions, ETS expanded its scope to encompass vocational guidance, school counseling, financial aid, draft deferments, personality assessment, and other areas. As Chauncey told his former Harvard classmates in 1953, ‘there are large areas to be explored’ by this ‘infant science.’ If Chauncey had been a businessman, one colleague later said, he would have been an excellent venture capitalist.
To some skeptics, ETS was a ‘semi-sinister organization on 400 acres of beautiful country in New Jersey… [with] little warrens of statistical sadists who are constantly inventing things to make kids unhappy.’ Those critics should read this book. Rather than feature heroes and villains, Elliot offers an even-handed analysis of the hopes and fears of the pioneers of a promising new field.» (Robert L. Hampel, University of Delaware)

«‘Henry Chauncey: An American Life’ is a painstaking biography of a remarkable man and his ancestors. As the first president of the Educational Testing Service, Chauncey oversaw the rapid growth of an organization that touched the lives of millions of students who took entrance examinations required by undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools. From its early focus on college admissions, ETS expanded its scope to encompass vocational guidance, school counseling, financial aid, draft deferments, personality assessment, and other areas. As Chauncey told his former Harvard classmates in 1953, ‘there are large areas to be explored’ by this ‘infant science.’ If Chauncey had been a businessman, one colleague later said, he would have been an excellent venture capitalist.
To some skeptics, ETS was a ‘semi-sinister organization on 400 acres of beautiful country in New Jersey… [with] little warrens of statistical sadists who are constantly inventing things to make kids unhappy.’ Those critics should read this book. Rather than feature heroes and villains, Elliot offers an even-handed analysis of the hopes and fears of the pioneers of a promising new field.» (Robert L. Hampel, University of Delaware)