History of The Buros Center for Testing

Oscar Buros reviewing tests

The origins of the Buros Center for Testing began in the fertile imagination of Oscar Krisen Buros with the publication of The 1938 Mental Measurements Yearbook. A tireless monitor of the testing industry, Buros created a forum for leading scholars to publish candidly critical reviews of commercially available tests designed to serve the interests of both practitioners and the public at large. Under the auspices of the Buros Institute of Mental Measurements (now the Buros Center for Testing), the Mental Measurements Yearbook (MMY) and Tests in Print (TIP) series grew to become the recognized standards for essential information about tests.

In addition to his efforts to improve the quality of tests with these book publications, Buros sought to develop an organization capable of providing evaluation services and research leadership essential to making a substantive improvement in the science and practice of testing. Despite his best efforts, he was unable to secure the necessary funding to begin this venture during his lifetime.

After his death in 1978, his widow, Luella Gubrud Buros continued her support of Oscar's long-standing goals of improved measurement and testing practices. Following a national search and offers from several prominent universities, the Buros Institute transferred its considerable testing archives to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and book publication restarted.

Luella Buros

In 1994, Luella helped establish the Oscar and Luella Buros Center for Testing. As a result of her generous support, the original mission was expanded beyond the evaluation of commercially available tests. The Center presently comprises three complementary functions, all of which serve to improve the science and practice of testing: test reviewing, psychometric consulting, and assessment literacy. The Center continues to provide reference materials in print and electronic form that offer valuable information and critical reviews of commercial tests. Through its psychometric consulting unit, Buros addresses evaluation and quality concerns within proprietary testing. The Center’s recent emphasis on assessment literacy enables Buros to provide resources and guidance that improve the ability of individuals to use tests more effectively and responsibly.

Test Reviews & Information

Best known as the creator, editor, and publisher of The Mental Measurements Yearbook (MMY) and Tests in Print (TIP) series, Oscar Buros began an editorship in the late 1930s that would significantly impact the history of the commercial testing industry. From the modest origins of a basement in his rented home and with very limited funding available for support, he continued his tireless efforts to publish impartial reviews of commercial tests for over 40 years. In 1984 MMY test reviews that had been published only in print form became available through electronic databases generally found in libraries through EBSCO and Ovid/ SilverPlatter. Users' accessibility expanded in 2001 when the Buros Center created its own electronic database and search engine where users could purchase reviews of commercially available tests over the internet. Test Reviews Online has become a popular tool for users worldwide who may not have access to the printed volumes or electronic databases through their local libraries. It provides users with updated descriptions and evaluations of tests as soon as the editorial process is complete. The pioneering work of Oscar Buros to advance the science and practice of testing continues to this day. The Twenty-First Mental Measurements Yearbook (2021) and Tests in Print X (2022) were published recently. The third edition in our newest series, Pruebas Publicadas en Español, will be available fall 2023.

Psychometric Consulting

When the Buros Center for Testing was established in 1994, a new initiative was launched. Originally known as the Buros Institute for Assessment Consultation and Outreach, the work of this group reflects an expanded mission that includes evaluating the quality of a wider range of tests. Buros’ expert psychometric services focus on propriety testing programs and strive to improve the quality of these programs and validity of the results. These tests typically have moderate to high stakes for individuals and include programs in educational assessment, licensure, certification, admissions, and employment.

Today, the psychometric consultation group serves clients in each of these areas of proprietary testing by providing independent oversight, psychometric evaluation, independent research, and technical consultation. Offering a range of services beyond the historical evaluation activities of the past, this unit continues to work for the Center's central mission of improving the science and practice of testing.

Assessment Literacy

In 2011, the Buros Center for Testing launched a bold new initiative in assessment literacy. The idea expands upon the fundamental goal of Oscar Buros for the Mental Measurements Yearbooks to educate test authors, publishers, and primarily test users about sound measurement practice.

In the 1940 Mental Measurements Yearbook, stated objectives for test reviews included assisting discriminating selection, providing detailed and accurate information, suggesting better appraisal methods, stimulating reconsideration of beliefs and values, and inculcating a keener awareness of values and dangers. The importance of these objectives continues unabated today and perhaps the urgency for attention is even greater given the issues facing education and psychology.

In moving towards the future, assessment literacy will promote wider and better understanding of testing and assessment practice through the provision of instructional and educational resources. These resources will enhance the ability of individuals to develop and use assessments in accordance with relevant standards and accepted guidelines for responsible test use.