Leonard S. Feldt, 54PhD, is a giant in the field of standardized testing, having transformed the landscape of educational measurement and brought international renown to the UI College of Education.
Throughout his career, Feldt has forged significant improvements in how standardized tests evaluate student achievement. He has also devoted considerable time and energy toward mentoring the next generation of leaders in his field. In fact, it has been said that wherever educational tests are built and given, there is probably a Feldt-trained Iowan close at hand.
After receiving his Ph.D. in educational measurement from the University of Iowa, Feldt joined the faculty as an assistant professor of educational testing and statistics. He spent the next four decades in various leadership roles at the UI, including chair of the Division of Educational Psychology, Measurement, and Statistics from 1977 until 1981—the same year he received the distinguished title of E.F. Lindquist Professor of Educational Measurement and became director of the renowned Iowa Testing Programs (ITP). From 1987 until 1993, Feldt served as chair of the Department of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations, where he has remained professor emeritus of measurement and statistics since his retirement in 1995.
As director of ITP until 1994, Feldt turned the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) and the Iowa Tests of Educational Development (ITED) into two of the nation's most widely used standardized achievement tests. He kept the appropriate interpretation of test results at the heart of his work, helping educators, counselors, and administrators apply scores wisely.
Since his first publication in 1955, Feldt has authored or coauthored a number of revisions of the Iowa Tests and more than 70 articles in journals bearing on statistical or testing topics. He is perhaps the only person to have published in both the Annals of Mathematical Statistics and the National Elementary School Principal, and he was a major contributor to the 1999 Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, a publication that has had a major influence on educational testing practice throughout the world. Feldt was also responsible for creating the first several editions of the college entrance tests published by the American College Testing program.
Feldt has been honored with the National Council on Measurement in Education Career Contribution Award and the American Educational Research Association and American College Testing Program E.F. Lindquist Award for Significant Contributions to the Field of Testing and Measurement. From the UI, he has received both a University Award for Meritorious Teaching and a Regents Award for Faculty Excellence. His latest honor came this past fall, when the UI created a new position bearing his name: the Hieronymus-Feldt Professor of Educational Measurement.
Feldt's biggest legacy of all, though, may well be his students—whose combined contribution to the educational measurement field is impossible to calculate. When he retired, former students journeyed back to Iowa City to honor their humble professor. Recalls Judith Hendershot, former UI director of educational placement: "It was a kind of love-in, the likes of which I had never seen."
An outstanding teacher, effective administrator, practical consultant, and gifted statistician, Leonard Feldt can take credit for original and lasting contributions that have left an indelible impression on our nation's educational system.
Feldt is a sustaining life member of the UI Alumni Association.