Inside the Testing Factory

Glazer, Nathan. "Inside the Testing Factory." Education Next, 2008.

Excerpt: No Child Left Behind, aside from its other effects, has generated a new kind of “successful schools” book, one which looks at schools that have done better than expected on mandated state exams. Linda Perlstein spent five years writing on education for the Washington Post and decided to research one such school. Tyler Heights enrolls 300 students, kindergarten to 5th grade, in Annapolis, Maryland. Half of its students come from housing projects. It is just the sort of school it was hoped would be improved by the legislation. In 2000, only 17 percent of the children performed satisfactorily on a state exam. A new principal, the central figure in Perlstein’s story, arrived that year. At the end of the 2004–05 school year, 86 percent of the students passed Maryland’s test in reading, 92 percent passed in math; black and Hispanic students were almost up to those figures. What could explain such remarkable change, and could it be maintained? Pearlstein spent the following year studying the school. Its incredibly hard-working principal, often at the school from 6:30 AM to 10:30 PM, and its teachers hardly rested on their laurels. They focused all energies on the state tests to come in March.


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