The Myths of Standardized Tests: Why They Don't Tell You What You Think They Do

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Overview

Pundits, politicians, and business leaders continually make claims for what standardized tests can do, and those claims go largely unchallenged because they are in line with popular assumptions about what these tests can do, what the scores mean, and the psychology of human motivation. But what most of what these opinion leaders say-and the public believes-about standardized testing just isn't so. However, few members of the general public, not even concerned parents, have the time or the background to keep up ...
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The Myths of Standardized Tests: Why They Don't Tell You What You Think They Do

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Overview

Pundits, politicians, and business leaders continually make claims for what standardized tests can do, and those claims go largely unchallenged because they are in line with popular assumptions about what these tests can do, what the scores mean, and the psychology of human motivation. But what most of what these opinion leaders say-and the public believes-about standardized testing just isn't so. However, few members of the general public, not even concerned parents, have the time or the background to keep up with the latest findings of testing experts, psychometricians, and researchers. That's where The Myths of Standardized Tests comes in. In simple, accessible language, Harris, Smith, and Harris spell out the assumptions underlying standardized tests and point out what's true about them and what's just plain mythical. But they not only debunk common assumptions; they propose better ways to judge the success of our schools. They also offer readers suggestions for ways they can help reduce the burden of tests on their children. Appendixes offer readers contact information and suggestions for actions they can take to become part of the solution to the problem of overusing and misusing standardized tests.
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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
The book explains, using a load of research, why high-stakes standardized tests are less objective than many people believe, why they don’t adequately measure student achievement, how the results distort the validity of the assessment system, how these tests “inadvertently” lead young people to become “superficial thinkers,” and much more. The easy-to-read book does not only look at what’s wrong with tests but also discusses what “genuine accountability” looks like.
CHOICE
Harris, Smith, and Harris offer a personal, accessible account of all aspects of standardized testing. Readers are forced to reconsider many commonly held beliefs about high-stakes tests and how they are used to measure students in schools. The authors weave their experiences with testing throughout the book, along with thoughts about testing from experts in the field, to personalize and strengthen their message. Their numerous arguments against standardized testing and the way these tests are used to measure students are logical and easy to follow. When using specific terms or acronyms germane to education, the authors take the time to briefly explain so that all readers can understand. This important book forces readers to consider other ways to assess students, especially by using more direct measures of progress. The authors offer ideas about the kinds of schools that are needed, and the accountability system that would best benefit students. In addition, they offer a guide for parents to foster positive interactions with their children's teachers in regard to testing. A resource guide is included to facilitate the reader in finding out more. Summing Up: Recommended.
Choice
Harris, Smith, and Harris offer a personal, accessible account of all aspects of standardized testing. Readers are forced to reconsider many commonly held beliefs about high-stakes tests and how they are used to measure students in schools. The authors weave their experiences with testing throughout the book, along with thoughts about testing from experts in the field, to personalize and strengthen their message. Their numerous arguments against standardized testing and the way these tests are used to measure students are logical and easy to follow. When using specific terms or acronyms germane to education, the authors take the time to briefly explain so that all readers can understand. This important book forces readers to consider other ways to assess students, especially by using more direct measures of progress. The authors offer ideas about the kinds of schools that are needed, and the accountability system that would best benefit students. In addition, they offer a guide for parents to foster positive interactions with their children's teachers in regard to testing. A resource guide is included to facilitate the reader in finding out more. Summing Up: Recommended.
Alfie Kohn
Just imagine if half the politicians, administrators, and journalists in this country, so many of whom confuse higher test scores with better schooling, were to read this book. In friendly, accessible prose, Harris, Smith, and Harris examine—and explode—each of the assumptions that underlies standardized testing. The more you learn about the tests themselves, as well as how the results are interpreted and used, the more skeptical you become. And The Myths of Standardized Tests is an excellent way to learn, regardless of whether you’re an educator who’s already knowledgeable . . . or a test-score-citing official who clearly needs to start from scratch.
Susan Ohanian
Reader-friendly, this book explains what parents and teachers and concerned citizens need to know to work for the survival of public education for democracy.
Ken Jones
This book is true like a plumb line. With clarity and insight, it drops us right into the heart of the most central emergency we have in public education today—the unrelenting obsession with standardized testing. The authors are extremely well-informed, easy to read, and not afraid to take a stand. What a breath of fresh air!
Deborah Meier
This book takes this thorny topic of standardized testing and covers everything in a sophisticated, nuanced, and lively way. The best on the subject I've yet to come across.
W James Popham
Question: How can a book about educational testing be a “page-turner?” Answer: When it’s written by a trio of smart, test-savvy authors who make a reader want to learn everything treated in this engaging expose of standardized testing’s foibles. Ultra-timely, this book should be mandatory reading for all educators—and everyone else!
Library Journal
In the era of No Child Left Behind, the number of books decrying the reliance on standardized testing has ballooned. Recent examples include Diane Ravitch's The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, Todd Farley's Making the Grades: My Misadventures in the Standardized Testing Industry, and Daniel M. Koretz's Measuring Up: What Educational Testing Really Tells Us. Here, Harris (executive director, Assn. for Educational Communications & Technology), Bruce Smith (former editor in chief, Phi Delta Kappan), and award-winning elementary school teacher Joan Harris intersperse their own personal experiences with testing among the book's chapters, which detail their evidence on the failures of standardized tests. The final two chapters contain recommended alternative accountability schemes for evaluating the success of students and schools. The book also includes a glossary of terms and a resource guide that lists research centers and organizations that focus on the topic of improving schools and education policy. VERDICT Thought-provoking reading for educators and parents.—Sara Holder, McGill Univ. Lib., Montreal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442208094
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/16/2011
  • Pages: 206
  • Sales rank: 729,171
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Phillip Harris is Executive Director of the Association for Educational Communications & Technology. He is the former Director of the Center for Professional Development at Phi Delta Kappa International and was a member of the faculty of Indiana University for 22 years, serving in both the Psychology Department and the School of Education.
For 27 years, Bruce M. Smith was a member of the editorial staff of the Phi Delta Kappan, the flagship publication of Phi Delta Kappa International, the association for professional educators. He retired as editor-in-chief in 2008. He holds degrees from M.I.T., the University of New Hampshire, and Indiana University.
Joan Harris has taught first, second, and third grades for more than 25 years. In 1997, she was recognized by the National Association for the Education of Young Children as the outstanding teacher of the year.
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Table of Contents

Part 1 Introduction: This Is Not a Test Part 2 Chapter 1. Misunderstanding Accountability: The Big Picture Part 3 Chapter 2. The Tests Are Too Narrow Part 4 Chapter 3. The Tests Don't Measure Achievement Adequately Chapter 5 Testing Autobiography: Phil's Story Part 6 Chapter 4. The Tests Are Less Than Objective Chapter 7 Testing Autobiography: Bruce's Story Part 8 Chapter 5. Rewards and Punishments Don't Motivate Chapter 9 Testing Autobiography: Joan's Story Part 10 Chapter 6. The Distortions of High Stakes Part 11 Chapter 7. What's Left Out? Part 12 Chapter 8. Why Not More Direct Measurement? Part 13 Chapter 9. The Tests Don't Predict Well Part 14 Chapter 10. New Ideas for Genuine Accountability Part 15 Chapter 11. What's It All About? Part 16 Resource Guide Part 17 A Medley of Views Chapter 18 'Reading' the Reading Tests Chapter 19 Misunderstood Measurement Mallets Chapter 20 A Use of Tests I Could Support Chapter 21 Within Limits, Tests Can Be Useful Chapter 22 Kids or Cows? Chapter 23 The Tests We Need Today Chapter 24 A Smokescreen Chapter 25 The Game of School Part 26 Say What?: An Abbreviated Glossary
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 15, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    The authors have done an outstanding job of identifying the real reasons that we need to stop the standardized testing that is going on in our nations public schools. For thoses who are really concerned this book gives you all the facts and support to really get policy leaders to listen.

    Testtired

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 25, 2012

    If you are an educator, I strongly suggest you read this book. I

    If you are an educator, I strongly suggest you read this book. If you
    are an educator who teaches in a public school, I want to insist you
    read this book. In language even an English teacher can understand,
    the authors point out the many, many problems with standardized tests.
    They progress from clearly explained technical aspects of how tests are
    constructed, through issues with accountability to bigger philosophical
    questions of what a quality education should entail. This book did more
    to help me understand the problems of current education reforms than any
    other single thing I've read. Please, if you care about young people and
    their learning, read this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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