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


The Myths of Standardized Tests: Why They Don’t Tell You What You Think They Do by Phillip Harris, Bruce M. Smith, and Joan Harris (with a little help from ten of their friends) is a MUST read for anyone fighting the current testing system.

Phillip Harris

  • Phillip is executive director of the Association for Educational Communications & Technology. He was a faculty member of the faculty of Indiana University for twenty-two years in Psychology and Education.
  • Bruce M. Smith was a member of the editorial staff of the Phi Delta Kappan for 27 years and he retired as editor-in-chief in 2008.
  • Joan Harris has taught grades one through three for 25 plus years. In 1997 she was recognized by the National Association for the Education of Young Children as the outstanding teacher of the year.

The Myths They Debunk

  • High test scores at a school means it has high achievement. Test scores provide objective achievement information. Rewards and punishments based on tests motivate. Improved test scores imply improved learning. All valuable content is tested. Standardized test scores are the best form of assessment. If you move to a district with high scores you will do better.

It’s An Emergency

  • The authors believe that our schools are under attack by the tests that continue to seep into our schools. They sap the energy and enthusiasm of educators and drain the life from children’s learning. Some of the motivation is commercial and some is caused by “the tyranny of good intentions.” In this book they hope to persuade you of their case and arm you with some basic understanding of standardized tests and the mythical assumptions that underlie them that are used to make policy and drive practice. The lives of our children and our future is at stake. Our schools do have problems, but they won’t be fixed by another truckload of test scores.
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17 Responses to “The Myths of Standardized Tests: Why They Don’t Tell You What You Think They Do

  1. Dr. Don says:

    Every educator, administrator, government bureaucrat, and union leader should be required to read this book, and then tested on it in the same manner that our children are tested today. Better yet, this should probably be a seminar topic for required academic continuing education. Chart 14, “New Ideas for Genuine Accountability” brushes the surface and wets our appetite on a new direction and sounds like it could be the basis for Harris, Smith, and Harris’s next book.

  2. […] Doug Green has an excellent summary of the myths and negative consequences of standardized testingbased on a book on his site: […]

  3. Archangelo says:

    Standardized tests aren’t really meant to measure student achievement, but to provide an excuse to dump teachers.

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