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Tested: One American School Struggles to Make the Grade
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Tested: One American School Struggles to Make the Grade

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  208 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
The pressure is on at schools across America. In recent years, reforms such as No Child Left Behind have created a new vision of education that emphasizes provable results, uniformity, and greater attention for floundering students. Schools are expected to behave more like businesses and judged almost solely on the bottom line: test scores.

To see if this world is producing
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 24th 2007 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Apr 14, 2012 Irene rated it it was amazing
This book makes me so angry! As I read, I want to point fingers and blame people for the problems we face in public education today, but I know I can't. I just know, as a student, that too much emphasis on a standardized test is stupid and irresponsible. It broke my heart to watch Tyler Heights get dragged along by the MSA. The teachers had no choice in how they taught. As I watched this elementary school, I would suddenly remember aspects of my elementary school education that I hadn't thought ...more
Apr 20, 2008 Anna rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: educators
Recommended to Anna by: furies
This is an outstanding and extremely accurate portrayal of the impact that NCLB legislation has had on American schools, particularly in innercity and/or low-income areas. Perlstein (an education journalist) spent a year observing the interactions between teachers and students (and the principal) at Tyler Heights Elementary School, a K-5 public school in Annapolis, MD. The school serves primarily low-income African-Americans and Latinos and I believe it is very representative of what is going on ...more
Hank Stuever
Apr 22, 2009 Hank Stuever rated it it was amazing
Linda's a friend of mine, but even if she wasn't, I was absorbed by this book. My anger built as I became riveted by what this school was doing to itself and its community by trying to meet the bizarro standards of No Child Left Behind -- everyone involved got left behind in some way. This book is precise, observant, and even funny at times -- but not preachy or political.
Susan Bazzett-griffith
Jan 27, 2016 Susan Bazzett-griffith rated it really liked it
Shelves: teaching-books
I was surprised by this book in a few ways- 1. The book was immensely readable-- more like an extra long magazine piece than a book, that follows one elementary school in Annapolis Maryland, and therefore has a narrative as well as a lot of factual information. 2. I realized about forty pages into the book that I kind of "knew" the principal of the school who was the book's central focus- her son was my class' valedictorian in high school; also, the contrast school they discuss in a couple of ch ...more
Feb 24, 2009 Terry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. I read it immediately before I read "The Children in Room E4" which seemed to have made a bigger splash, but I think "Tested" is a superior book. They have much in common (schools attended by children living in poverty), and in fact some of the examples each author gave were eerily similar to the other's. Eerily, and, depressingly. However, Perlstein's book is much more focused and frankly, much more "real-world", to me.

She points out that children who come from impoverished b
Sep 03, 2008 stephanie rated it really liked it
Recommended to stephanie by: Chelsea
so, i finally settled down and finish this thing. (i kept putting it off because my issues with the DOE/the election NCLB-renewal coming up are making me so upset i had to stay away.)

first: write letters to your congressional representatives. let them know that NCLB is a piece of junk, and you want it out of our schools. it doesn't provide accountability, it only provides numbers that are useless when trying to determine IF A CHILD IS LEARNING.

second: this book is very insightful. it shows one
Nov 21, 2007 Carrie rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, education
A year in the life of an elementary school in Maryland as staff and students prepare for mandatory achievement tests. A fascinating look into the damage wrought by the flawed and underfunded No Child Left Behind Act.
Jul 31, 2014 John rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education, memoir
I have noticed that when I rate education books that I’ve read I pretty well default to giving them 4 stars. They may be interesting, but they’re rarely exciting, often repeat conventional wisdom, and are, frankly, on the subject of my work. I may find the book useful to me, but I’m rarely passionate about it.

I’ve got to say, though, that Linda Perlstein far exceeded my expectations with Tested. In the book, she follows a school through a year in which they try to maintain their test scores, des
Perlstein is not an educator, but she's as informed on education issues as any writer I've read. Her year at Tyler Heights Elementary in Annapolis begins and ends with the principal nervously learning the test scores for the year. She follows the third grade teachers and students as they prepare for the MSA, the Maryland version of high stakes testing to comply with NCLB...I think the date of publication is important here: 2007. She discusses events from the 2005-06 school year, so she's known t ...more
Gabriel Desjardins
Sep 16, 2007 Gabriel Desjardins rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
I'll admit that I couldn't finish this book. The analysis of the No Child Left Behind Act and its effects on school is interesting, but many pages are spent watching teachers interact with 6- to 8-year-old kids.

I think I've just completely forgotten what it's like to be a little kid, because those sections are jarring. Gone are the days when kids were allowed to be individuals - in class, every kid in this school is required to have both feet on the floor at all times, eyes forward, back straigh
Nov 25, 2007 Chelsea rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone even remotely interested in the education system
This is a fascinating take on schools in the wake of No Child Left Behind - specifically schools in poor neighborhoods with large numbers of minority students. Linda Perlstein spent the 2005-06 school year at Tyler Heights Elementary, in Annapolis Maryland, in the wake of the school's 2005 MSA (Maryland School Assesment) test results (85.7% passed in reading, 79.6% in math), which were an incredible turnaround from previous years.

Perlstein spent most of her time with the third grade class, who w
Aug 22, 2008 Mauri rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The book follows an elementary school in the suburbs of Annapolis, Maryland, where the principal and teachers are struggling to improve the test scores after a surprise success in the previous school year. They are faced with an especially difficult crop of third graders and as the year goes on, the reader wonders how these children could ever hope to pass the test on comparing poems when some can't even read and others can't remember what makes a poem a poem. Personally, I couldn't believe thes ...more
James Mason
Dec 19, 2015 James Mason rated it really liked it
So many frustrating small stories with these kids! This book does an excellent job of stirring up a lot of emotions: despair, confusion, sympathy, curiosity, inspiration. Overall, it was a balanced treatment of No Child Left Behind -- describing the motivation which seemed legit, but also the shortcomings. The day-to-day in this school really showed how difficult a job teachers have in this elementary school serving a primarily low-income population. Behavior issues abound, parents seem mostly a ...more
Much commentary in the media and elsewhere has dealt with the pitfalls faced by educators and children arising from a proliferation of high stakes, standardized testing. In that sense, Perlstein's book is not 'new news.' But her exploration of the challenges faced by one high needs Maryland school over the course of a year as it seeks to make "Adequate Yearly Progress" under the US' No Child Left Behind Law was eye-opening and nuanced, nonetheless. Perlstein spent time in teachers' classrooms, w ...more
Mar 31, 2016 Whtyac rated it really liked it
It was an interesting view on high stakes testing as well as into the lives of students, parents, communities and teachers
I am going to go ahead and rate this one even though I am not planning to finish it. I have to put this aside because my kid is starting kindergarten next month at a public school, and reading this book has me on the edge of panic, especially since I determined that she'll be using some of the same textbooks that the students and teachers hate so much in the school system that is the subject of this book.

I rate the book very highly: it's a well-researched, very readable indictment of No Child Le
Nov 19, 2008 Rachel rated it really liked it
Recommended to Rachel by: Mimi Smartypants
This book is about a low-performing elementary school that is, on paper, a big No Child Left Behind success story. On paper is key here, because what the book really explores are the costs of this improvement in test scores, costs to teacher creativity, children's engagement with learning, and any content area that's not on the test (goodbye, science and social studies). I found this book to be well reported, generous, interesting, and, as a parent, more than a little depressing. It may be unfai ...more
Dec 03, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it
Very interesting read--nothing that most modern teachers don't know--the narrowing of teaching to reading and math to the loss of other subjects because of a laser focus on testing and how limiting that feels to teachers and students but the stakes are too high not to.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Mar 16, 2016 Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance rated it really liked it
Will our school do well this year on the state-mandated tests? That question seems to dominate every decision made in every school in our country these days. Perlstein visits a typical disadvantaged school to take a close look at testing and the day-to-day events in a school that lead up to testing. It is not a happy picture. All the fun activities of school---projects, experiments, student group interaction, even recess---are sacrified at the altar of testing preparation. For this school, the s ...more
Jun 08, 2012 Corey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars
An awesome narrative and a rare inside look into the plight of poverty-stricken schools, and how the "No Child Left Behind" act is hurting these types of schools instead of helping them. This is a must read for all parents and teachers, as well as anyone who thinks they know about education and the Bush administration's policies but haven't bothered to ask actual educators. This book will sadden and infuriate you, and at some points along the way, give you a faint glimmer of hope about the educa ...more
Justin Charity
Mar 10, 2011 Justin Charity rated it really liked it
It could have used more comparison of the Maryland School Assessment to other statewide tests in the region (the Virginia Standards of Learning are featured briefly) to further flesh out particular deficiencies of the MSA aside from the broader critique of standardized testing regimes that otherwise defines the book. But it's a great book, and it does a great job juggling the various relevant voices and perspectives -- students, teachers, the principal, parents, the policy-makers.
Oct 27, 2007 Jennifer rated it really liked it
In many ways, this book reads like a mystery. Will Tyler Heights Elementary, a struggling school, succeed on its state test? While Perlstein hooks you with this question, she pulls you into different classroom settings so that you can decide whether the testing furor is helping or hurting the school's children (or both). This is a good read for anyone interested in figuring out No Child Left Behind or anyone interested in pushing actual public schooling to live up to the ideal.
Aug 14, 2013 Lizzie rated it liked it
An interesting look into the life of teachers at a low income school in suburban Virginia. The author tried hard to be neutral, but she very clearly had her own biases against testing. While she presented evidence against her own thesis, it was by and large an anti testing book. That said, it was well written and insightful for understanding the level of work required of teachers today.
Mar 12, 2009 Rob rated it liked it
Great insight(albeit from one author, in one school in Maryland) into the current trend of teaching the test and how shortsighted it is. I felt bad for a lot of the kids; the pressures they faced and the environment they were in in a school that hired clowns to promote excellence through testing at the expense of all other disciplines that create a well-rounded person.
Nov 29, 2008 Christine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2008
Nobody should read this book. If you're a teacher, a parent, or just someone who cares about the education in America, this book is just going to PISS you off. Schools have become nothing but their test scores. I wonder why my students can't do basic math - it's because they aren't taught how to multiply, but how to answer test questions correctly.
Oct 04, 2007 Lynn rated it liked it
Shelves: education
A chronicle of a year in the life of a Title 1 school in Annapolis as it prepares for the Maryland Standards Assessments. I came to admire the teachers who struggle in classrooms filled with children who often had parents that were indifferent or occasionally neglectful. For a look at how No Child Left Behind affects today's teachers this is a great read.
Dec 01, 2012 Audra rated it really liked it
Shelves: teaching
Highly recommend to anyone interested in understanding the impact of testing on our schools, though the ending depressed me. I've seen real life schools much like this one, and I've even seen the effects trickling into non-Title I schools, especially as teacher performance is tied to these tests. Sigh, sigh, sigh. I wish I could home school.
Apr 16, 2014 Meagan rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, education
This book gives an accurate and important picture of the effects of No Child Left Behind on public education. As a public school teacher, I see firsthand do much of what Perlstein describes, but I also think it's important for others not working in the field of education to read this book and know what goes on in public schools.
Mary M
Aug 01, 2011 Mary M added it
An Annapolis elementary school whose student body is largely made up of underprivileged blacks and Hispanics strives to keep up with the stringencies and contingencies of No Child Left Behind. Perlstein wrote for many years about education for The Washington Post and has produced a fairly riveting in-the-trenches account.
Jan 07, 2013 Ami added it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
This book depressed me so much I couldn't finish it. What is the point of making our children go to school and pass a test, if they aren't truly learning in the process? In fact, they're learning to hate learning. Something needs to be done- especially in the schools with lower income children.
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Obama’s Education Agenda: Interview with Linda Perlstein 1 6 Jun 23, 2009 08:17PM  
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Linda was the first curator of the Amazon Books bricks-and-mortar bookstore chain and managed the nonfiction and lifestyle book selection. Before that she was a freelance book editor and a consultant to several nonprofits and foundations in the fields of K-12 and higher education. She worked at The Washington Post from 1994 to 2004, as a copy editor, graphics editor, and, for most of those years, ...more
More about Linda Perlstein...

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