Cover image for The Test : why our schools are obsessed with standardized testing-- but you don't have to be
Title:
The Test : why our schools are obsessed with standardized testing-- but you don't have to be
Author:
Kamenetz, Anya, 1980-
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : PublicAffairs, [2015]
Physical Description:
vii, 262 pages ; 25 cm
Summary:
"No sooner is a child walking and talking than the ABCs and 1-2-3s give way to the full-on alphabet soup: the ERBs, the OLSAT, the IQ, the NCLB for AYP, the IEP for ELLs, the CHAT and PDDST for ASD or LD and G & T or ADD and ADHD, the PSATs, then the ACTs and SATs-all designed to assess and monitor a child's readiness for education. In many public schools, students are spending up to 28% of instructional time on testing and test prep. Starting this year, the introduction of the Common Core State Standards Initiative in 45 states will bring an unprecedented level of new, more difficult, and longer mandatory tests to nearly every classroom in the nation up to five times a year-forcing our national testing obsession to a crisis point. Taxpayers are spending extravagant money on these tests-up to $1.4 billion per year-and excessive tests are stunting children's spirits, adding stress to family life, and slowly killing our country's future competitiveness. Yet even so, we still want our kids to score off the charts on every test they take, in elementary school and beyond. And there will be a lot of them. How do we preserve space for self-directed learning and development, while also asking our children to make the score and make a mark? This book is an exploration of that dilemma, and a strategy for how to solve it. The Test explores all sides of this problem-where these tests came from, why they're here to stay, and ultimately what you as a parent or teacher can do. It introduces a set of strategies borrowed from fields as diverse as games, neuroscience, social psychology, and ancient philosophy to help children do as well as they can on tests, and, just as important, how to use the experience of test-taking to do better in life. Like Paul Tough's bestseller How Children Succeed, it illuminates the emerging science of grit, curiosity and motivation, but takes a step further to explore innovations in education-emerging solutions to the over-testing crisis-that are not widely known but that you can adapt today, at home and at school. And it presents the stories of families of all kinds who are maneuvering within and beyond the existing educational system, playing and winning the testing game. You'll learn, for example, what Bill Gates, a strong public proponent of testing, does to stoke self-directed curiosity in his children, and how Mackenzie Bezos, wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and mother of three, creates individualized learning experiences for each of her children. All parents want their children to be successful, and their schools to deliver true opportunities. Yet these goals are often as likely to result in stress and arguments as actual progress. The Test is a book to help us think about these problems, and ultimately, move our own children towards the future we want for them, from elementary to high school and beyond."--

"In many public schools, students are spending up to 28 percent of instructional time on testing and test prep. Starting this year, the introduction of the Common Core State Standards Initiative in 45 states will bring an unprecedented level of new, more difficult, and longer mandatory tests to nearly every classroom in the nation up to five times a year--forcing our national testing obsession to a crisis point. Taxpayers are spending extravagant money on these tests--up to $1.4 billion per year--and excessive tests are stunting children's spirits, adding stress to family life, and slowly killing our country's future competitiveness. Yet even so, we still want our kids to score off the charts on every test they take, in elementary school and beyond. And there will be a lot of them. This book is an exploration of that dilemma, and a strategy for how to solve it"--
Language:
English
Contents:
The problem. Ten arguments against testing ; The history of tests ; The politics of tests -- The solutions. Opting out ; The four teams ; Measuring what matters ; Playing and winning the testing game.
ISBN:
9781610394413
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Standardized assessments test our children, our teachers, our schools,and increasingly, our patience.Your child is more than a score. But in the last twenty years, schools have dramatically increased standardized testing, sacrificing hours of classroom time. What is the cost to students, teachers, and families? How do we preserve space for self-directed learning and development,especially when we still want all children to hit the mark? The Test explores all sides of this problem,where these tests came from, their limitations and flaws, and ultimately what parents, teachers, and concerned citizens can do. It recounts the shocking history and tempestuous politics of testing and borrows strategies from fields as diverse as games, neuroscience, and ancient philosophy to help children cope. It presents the stories of families, teachers, and schools maneuvering within and beyond the existing educational system, playing and winning the testing game. And it offers a glimpse into a future of better tests. With an expert's depth, a writer's flair, and a hacker's creativity, Anya Kamenetz has written an essential book for any parent who has wondered: what do I do about all these tests?


Author Notes

Anya Kamenetz is NPR's lead digital education reporter. She's the author of two previous books, Generation Debt and DIY U. She is a former senior writer for Fast Company, has a nationally syndicated column with Tribune Media, and her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN.com, Slate, Newsweek, O: The Oprah Magazine, and a wide variety of other publications. She has won two national awards from the Education Writers Association and appeared in the documentaries Generation Next, Default, and Ivory Tower. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter and can be found online at AnyaKamenetz.net.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

The buzzwords and counterarguments of the nationwide testing debate are enough to make any parent's head spin, and Kamenetz's book adds to the confusing array as much as it clarifies it. NPR blogger and mother Kamenetz seeks to understand the counterintuitive world of standardized testing, hoping to "resolve a personal dilemma about how to educate [her] child." She wants her daughter to succeed in school and on tests, but doesn't want the girl's creativity and individuality snuffed out by the high-stakes environment. Kamenetz runs readers through a battery of familiar arguments against testing: the tests waste time and money, they make teachers hate teaching, they require teaching to cater to the test, they penalize diversity, and they test the wrong things. She then summarizes the history of testing in the U.S. from 1795 to the present day and digs deep into the business practices that govern current testing systems and policy. As Kamenetz acknowledges, important tests and teacher accountability are not going away, so she offers several strategies to keep students balanced and calm while preparing for such exams, but her suggestions for students and parents, ranging from meditating to opting out, are not always practical. She also devotes considerable discussion to the appealing idea of "game-based" assessments as the future of standardized testing, while admitting that the effectiveness of the approach is still largely unproven. Agent: Jim Levine, Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Starred Review. Kamenetz's (lead education blogger, NPR; Generation Debt; DIY U) provocative, well-researched book looks at the $13 billion standardized testing industry. Controlled by a handful of companies, it determines grade promotion and graduation rates and has been shown to discriminate against minorities, the poor, and individuals with learning disabilities. The first part of the work examines frequent complaints: tests emphasize the wrong subjects, waste time and money, and make both teachers and students hate school. Also mentioned is that tests penalize diversity, result in teaching to the test, lead to cheating, and are full of errors. Important historical figures in standardized testing, such as Francis Galton, were undeniably racist, and Kamenetz, along with authors such as Diane Ravitch (The Death and Life of the Great American School System) and Alfie Kohn (The Case Against Standardized Testing), raises many concerns. What will be heartening to the parents and educators who read this book, however, is that Kamenetz doesn't stop there. She offers a range of solutions: opting out of tests, creating better and less frequent exams and testing unconventional but key qualities like mind-set and grit. VERDICT With the Common Core upon us, this timely book should be required reading for anyone concerned with education today.-Elizabeth Safford, Nevins Memorial Lib., Methuen, MA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

Testing has become increasingly common in K-12 schools over the past two decades; students face ever more tests, and the process begins earlier and for younger children. With this book, Kamenetz (lead education blogger, National Public Radio) provides a readable, comprehensive overview of the historical background of testing, the policy considerations that have increased the occurrence of assessments, and problems this has caused. The book is organized into two parts; Kamenetz first examines the problem and then explores solutions. The first part has three chapters: "Ten Arguments Against Testing," "The History of Tests," and "The Politics of Tests." In the four chapters in part 2, Kamenetz examines opting out, the four teams, measuring what matters, and playing and winning the testing game. Acknowledging the need for assessment and accountability while dismantling many of the myths introduced by testing companies, Kamenetz offers powerful arguments against high-stakes standardized testing and provides an impartial critique of the current obsession with testing. This book constitutes a tremendous introduction to the field and is an excellent complement to Diane Ravitch's The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (CH, Nov'11, 49-1608). Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; general readers. --Stephen T. Schroth, Towson University