Buros Mental Measurements Yearbook

As a young professor at Rutgers University in the mid-1930s, Oscar Krisen Buros developed the idea for a book series that would insure test users an indispensable reference for in-depth descriptions and critiques of all commercially produced tests developed in the English language. Soon to become The Mental Measurements Yearbook (MMY) series, his publication of "candidly critical" reviews of tests, Buros believed, would serve a variety of public interests. For test users, the series would afford valuable access to the expertise of scholars and professionals. Buros also held that test users would gradually become informed consumers of testing products and would increasingly select tests that met or exceeded minimal standards of psychometric adequacy. For test designers and publishers, Buros maintained that the publication of critical reviews would "cause authors and publishers to publish fewer but better tests" (Buros, 1938, p. xiii).

Buros was undaunted by substantial pressures to curtail publication of the MMY series. The logistics of recruiting qualified professionals and securing their reviews for large numbers of testing instruments promised to be (and has remained) an enormous undertaking. In addition, test authors and publishers sometimes provided limited cooperation for securing information about tests and related testing materials. Occasionally, Buros was threatened with lawsuits over critical reviews. To sustain him in this endeavor, Buros enlisted the considerable talents of his wife, Luella, and small group of devoted staff. Funding to create a consumer's research bureau whereby specially trained teams of psychometricians would independently evaluate tests did not materialize. Instead, Buros continued to rely upon large numbers of academics and specialized professionals to serve in the role of test reviewers.

Despite the name The Mental Measurements Yearbook and the desire of its editor to publish new volumes annually, the exacting standards of Buros and the size of the undertaking mandated a production schedule for the MMY averaging once every 5 years. Besides the publication of the MMY, Buros also edited special monographs on testing in distinct subject areas (e.g., vocations, personality) and initiated production of the Tests in Print (TIP) series. TIP was designed to serve the testing community as a compendium of all currently available tests and to provide a quick reference to test reviews published in the MMY series. Whereas new editions of the MMY both describe and review new tests, each edition of the TIP series contains descriptive entries of all known tests currently available in the English language.

The publication process for the books edited by Buros began with Educational, Psychological, and Personality Tests of 1936 and The 1938 Mental Measurements Yearbook and had continued through The Eighth Mental Measurements Yearbook (1978) when Buros passed away. After a nationwide search to determine a successor location, Luella Buros selected the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to continue the work begun by her late husband over 40 years earlier. The world's largest collection of tests and testing material was subsequently crated and shipped to a new location halfway across the United States. Publication commenced in 1983 with Tests in Print III, followed soon afterward by The Ninth Mental Measurements Yearbook.

The dream of Oscar Buros for fewer, better quality tests has been partially realized in several ways. Acurrent count of in-print tests has suggested a small reduction in the number of commercially available instruments being offered for sale since 1983. In addition, many of the sophisticated methodological strategies designed to insure test reliability, validity, and appropriate standardization had not been developed in the days when Buros made his initial proclamation on tests. With the advent of testing standards first articulated in 1954 (and most recently in 1999) by the American Educational Research Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education, test authors and publishers alike have greater guidance by which to judge the adequacy of their products.

Shortly before her death in 1995, Luella Buros funded the Buros Center for Testing. Mrs. Buros believed that, in order to speed advances in the field of testing and measurement, it was essential to create a consultation service that would share test development expertise with both the public and private sectors. Working as the umbrella organization, the center has acted to combine the historic objectives of the Buros Institute of Mental Measurements for improved testing with consultation services from the newly created Buros Institute for Assessment Consultation and Outreach.

In response to continual requests to make test reviews more accessible to the public, Test Reviews Online was launched in September, 2001. This Internet service (available at www.unl.edu/buros) was designed to provide, for a modest fee, immediate access to over 2,000 testing instruments in a wide variety of subject areas. Additional test reviews are being added each month. The Buros Center for Testing continues the work of improving tests and assessments that was first articulated by Oscar Buros over 65 years ago.

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