Assessment

Success at a Price

July 27, 2007 1 min read

Linda Perlstein is getting a lot of attention this week with the release of her second book, this one about the impact of testing and accountability on an elementary school in suburban Maryland. “Tested: One American School Struggles to Make the Grade” chronicles the success of Tyler Heights Elementary, a Title I school in Annapolis, in boosting students’ test scores in math and reading.

The veteran journalist’s first book, “Not Much Just Chillin’: The Hidden Lives of Middle Schoolers,” gave an eye-opening and sometimes alarming look into the world of adolescents.

It appears Perlstein has hit on another hot topic. On his blog, teacherken’s lengthy summary and review of the book has already chalked up more than 40 comments. He writes:

“Certainly under the leadership of [principal] Tina McKnight the school has produced test scores that are notable. What Perlstein is able to do is provide the reader with the reality of the cost of those scores. Most parents would probably recoil from having their students in such a restricted learning environment. And for many students they are able to succeed on the tests because of intense focus on test preparation without necessarily learning the underlying skills those tests are supposedly assessing. Given the pressures placed on educators this should not be surprising.”

E.D. Hirsch and Larry Cuban have offered praise for the book here.

The book outlines how the school turned itself around, but asks the question: at what cost?

I’d be interested in your reviews.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.

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