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Collateral Damage: How High-Stakes Testing Corrupts America's Schools Paperback – March 5, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-1891792359 ISBN-10: 1891792350

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 234 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Education Press (March 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1891792350
  • ISBN-13: 978-1891792359
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #552,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Collateral Damage delivers a healthy dose of hard truth. It should be required reading for policymakers and concerned citizens." --Jeannie Oakes, Presidential Professor and Director, UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA)

"The cumulative impact of the accounts Nichols and Berliner lay out before us is staggering. They punch it home: The moral impact of NCLB may be as dangerous as its educational effects." --Deborah Meier, Senior Scholar, New York University

"This savage assault on high-stakes testing in education arrives with a clear concern about those most harmed by high-stakes tests students and teachers. Nichols and Berliner provide a carefully reasoned analysis laced with frightening accounts drawn from public schools. Not merely another pummeling of No Child Left Behind, this is a readable evisceration of the premise that our schools can be evaluated with a single indicator. If you care about public schooling, this is required reading." --W. James Popham, Professor Emeritus, UCLA

About the Author

Sharon L. Nichols is an assistant professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio. David C. Berliner is the Regents' Professor of Education at Arizona State University in Tempe. He is past president of the American Educational Research Association and a member of the National Academy of Education.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By jasoneducator on March 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
Berliner and Nichols take on high-stakes testing at a critical time in this book. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is currently up for renewal and revision, and the broad, bipartisan coalition that passed the initial legislation must decide whether to strengthen the law, modify the law, or radically dismantle it. Berliner and Nichols argue against high-stakes testing due to the corruptive influence of high-stakes tests on educators, students, and parents. Much of their evidence is taken from extensive research in the newspapers along with some analysis of the types of programs and results achieved in states thus far.

A great deal of their analysis rests on applying Campbell's Law to the arena of high stakes test. Campbell's Law states that any time a sociological measure is attached to high stakes consequences, the efforts of people to avoid the high stakes consequences will corrupt the effectiveness of the indicator. Anyone familiar with NCLB will have heard complaints about how the law drives educators to teach to the test; this work goes into far greater detail and systematically analyzes how high-stakes tests are not merely stressful, they invalidate what they are trying to measure. There are many powerful stories in this books of diplomas denied, educators demoralized, and children injured by high-stakes tests. Anyone who has been hurt by NCLB will gather food from this work.

Unfortunately, this book will not sway the politicians who are committed to NCLB very much. Opponents will attempt to muster their own stories of how schools were motivated to get their act together when they had to fear the consequences of the law.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gene V. Glass on May 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
Many years ago an educator from Britain and I were discussing the direction that public education in America was taking. The signs of the "accountability" movement were becoming evident even then. After a while, my visitor remarked, "What a shame. In England, we don't just test, we teach." That judgment is more true today than ever in the history of American education. What a shame! We have created these tests, and now testing has supplanted teaching in our schools...unless of course you count "teaching the test" as actually teaching, which I do not.
Nichols and Berliner have sounded the wake-up call. Who will listen?
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Matthew J. Chesnut on August 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
The authors of this text make a very pointed and specific argument: that attaching high-stakes to test scores corrupts and invalidates the measure. The extent of cheating and malfeasance is found at the student, teacher, district, and state levels because of the enormous pressure put on all parties to raise standards according to the required standardized testing mandated by 2001's No Child Left Behind Act.

Nichols and Berliner describe an environment where schools have taken the power out of the teacher's hands to determine what should be taught. Instead, state standardized testing with high stakes (which is to say funding, employment status for teachers, graduation status for students, and school operability are at stake if certain benchmarks are not met) create an impetus for school administrators to narrow the curriculum to focus the school's energy on that which is being tested. Because there are such high stakes attached almost exclusively to the test results of the students, the authors argue that Campbell's law comes into play: "The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor."

Their body of evidence includes news articles from across the country detailing a number of examples of such corruption, as well as interviews with educators who have witnessed the educational environment change firsthand. The examples can become repetitive, but that may be reason enough to be concerned about the unintended consequences of high-stakes accountability in education.

Perhaps most importantly, the authors do not suggest that accountability should be removed from the classroom.
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By Breanna on January 27, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Current administrators and teachers can greatly benefit from the eye opening issues discussed in this book. Powerful anecdotes and thoughtful solutions are offered.
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By margaret on August 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I think all teachers and parents should read this book. Very interesting studies cited to explain what has happened over the years to our education system.
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