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The Myths of Standardized Tests: Why They Don't Tell You What You Think They Do Hardcover – January 16, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1442208094 ISBN-10: 1442208090

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 206 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (January 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442208090
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442208094
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


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. (The Washington Post)

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)

In the era of No Child Left Behind, the number of books decrying the reliance on standardized testing has ballooned....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. Thought-provoking reading for educators and parents. (Library Journal)

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. (Alfie Kohn, author of The Case Against Standardized Testing and The Schools Our Children Deserve)

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. (Susan Ohanian, author of What Happened to Recess and Why Are Our Children Struggling in Kindergarten?)

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! (Ken Jones, University of Southern Maine)

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. (Deborah Meier, NYU Steinhardt)

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! (W James Popham, professor emeritus, University of California, Los Angeles)

About 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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By D. Godon on February 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
An important book that exposes the myths of standardized tests and provides thoughtful alternatives. As a quick overview the book shows how standardized tests are too narrow, they don't measure achievement adequately, are less than objective, distort learning and accountability, force other important subjects out, and because they don't predict well mislead students in their growth. The book is well backed by solid research, but is presented in an easy to read and understand manner appropriate for parents, citizens, or teachers. The book concludes with some valuable thoughts and reminders about what the purpose of schools should be, how standardized tests lead us astray of these, and provides some steps for how we can get back on track. With Obama promising to ratchet up the use of such tests further, this book is a very timely and valuable resource.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Strong Poet on June 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
As a nation, as parents and educators, we have all decided that we want our children to learn so much more than what can be measured on standardized tests. In addition to academic knowledge and other critical goals such as appreciation for arts and literature, social skills and work ethic, citizenship and emotional health are primary goals we want for our children and yet so much concentration on standardized tests takes focus away from those skills. Research shows these social skills will create successful adults and yet our schools are oddly devoid of that kind of learning. Why? Because of the myopic focus on testing.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Deb on April 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A must in this world of madness and pseudo-scientific talk about testing. Give it away to tose who should be informed.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By EDoherty on July 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a must-read for all citizens, parents, and educators. Our test driven society is out of control and this book clearly outlines exactly why standardized tests don't even come close to giving us an accurate picture of how successful schools or students are.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Ellingwood VINE VOICE on February 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book is a good overview about why standardized tests are a bad judge of students, teachers and schools. They need objective, but were created subjectively from the beginning when people decided what the children should know and created the questions. While tests go through a standardizing process, testing them out on children in the same grade level and choosing what questions 50% of the sample students get right and 50% get wrong. Most tests don't predict very far into the future and can't predict who will be successful in life. SAT tests are claimed by the College Board to predict grades in the 1st year of college when students usually have large classes and assessed often by multiple choice tests. GRE tests don't make claims for graduate school where students receive As and Bs anyway if they pass their coursework. Tests given in K-12 don't make the claims for future success but are used to evaluate teachers and schools without explanation on how they do that or use numbers that doesn't prove their claim. A good primer that I hope to follow up with more readings and information.
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