Testing Our Classrooms

Should Our Schools Stop the Obsession with Standardized Scores?
New America

No sooner is a child walking and talking than the ABCs and 1-2-3s give way to the full-on alphabet soup: the OLSAT, 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 the era of No Child Left Behind and the Common Core Standards, many teachers, parents, and policymakers have accused America’s schools of sacrificing substantial learning and taxpayer dollars in favor of teaching to high-stakes, high-stress standardized tests. And, detractors say, as the stand-alone measure of performance for students, teachers, schools, and districts, they’re ultimately cutting into the competitiveness of our next generation.

But what fair and useful alternatives do we have for measuring student outcomes that allow us to hold teachers and curriculum accountable? How should we be teaching and testing in a way that best serves all learners, addressing historical achievement gaps between students of varying socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds? And ultimately, what should we really be teaching our students and how should we be teaching it to ensure our children are prepared for an increasingly competitive and globalized world?

Join New America for a conversation with Anya Kamenetz, author of the new book The Test: Why Our Schools are Obsessed with Standardized Testing--But You Don't Have to Be, about how the tempestuous politics of testing have been shaping classrooms across the country and how our schools can best teach and measure what matters.

Follow the discussion online using #TheTest and following @NewAmerica.

Copies of the book will be available for sale at the event.


Anya Kamenetz
Lead Education Blogger, NPR
Author, The Test: Why Our Schools are Obsessed with Standardized Testing--But You Don't Have to Be
2014 New America Fellow

Maurice Sykes
Director, Early Childhood Leadership Institute at the University of the District of Columbia's National Center for Urban Education
Author, Doing the Right Thing for Children: Eight Qualities of Leadership

Kevin Carey
Director, Education Policy Program, New America