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Book Review

The Myths of Standardized Tests

Pundits, politicians, and business leaders continually make claims for what standardized tests can do, and those claims go largely unchallenged because they are in line with popular assumptions about what these tests can do, what the scores mean, and the psychology of human motivation. But, Harris, Smith, and Harris write, what most of what these opinion leaders say—and the public believes—about standardized testing just isn’t so. However, few members of the general public, not even concerned parents, have the time or the background to keep up with the latest findings of testing experts, psychometricians, and researchers.

The authors spell out the assumptions underlying standardized tests and point out what’s true about them and what’s just plain mythical. But they not only debunk common assumptions, they propose better ways to judge the success of our schools. They also offer readers suggestions for ways they can help reduce the burden of tests on their children.

Appendixes offer readers contact information and suggestions for actions they can take to become part of the solution to the problem of overusing and misusing standardized tests.