Publication Date: July 14, 2017
The authors of this timely book argue that a fundamentally complex problem—how to assess the knowledge of a child—cannot be reduced to a simple test score. Beyond Testing describes seven forms of assessment that are more effective than standardized test results: (1) student self-assessments, (2) direct teacher observations of students and their work, (3) descriptive reviews of the child, (4) reading and math interviews with children, (5) portfolios and public defense of student work, (6) school reviews and observations by outside professionals, and (7) school boards and town meetings. These assessments are more honest about what we can and cannot know about children’s knowledge, skills, and dispositions, and are more adaptable to varying educational missions. Readers can compare and contrast each approach and make informed decisions about what is most appropriate for their school.
Deborah Meier has spent 50 years working in public education as a teacher, principal, writer, and advocate, and received a MacArthur “genius” Award for her work in East Harlem, New York City. Matthew Knoester is an associate professor of educational studies at Ripon College and author of Democratic Education in Practice: Inside the Mission Hill School.
“This highly readable book offers practical alternatives to standardized testing. In contrast to the detrimental effects of standardized testing, the alternatives actually improve education and strengthen children's motivation to learn. Many people have wondered, 'If not standardized testing, then what?' Here are the answers.”
—Diane Ravitch, Research Professor of Education at New York University and historian of education
“Educational assessment and democratic citizenship are terms that are rarely found in the same sentence. But that is what we find in this admirable book. The authors understand both concepts well, and so should many more parents, school board members, and legislators. The complex profession of teaching and the idiosyncratic world of student learning simply cannot be assessed in the ways that are currently in vogue. This book is a wonderful reminder that other quite sound methods to assess teaching and learning exist. Highly recommended!"
—David C. Berliner, Regent's Professor Emeritus at Arizona State University and author of 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools
“Recent resistance movements have shown us the illegitimacy of high-stakes standardized tests and demonstrated that we need to do something better. Full of concrete examples, based on real experiences, and written in accessible prose, Beyond Testing is a wonderful book, offering us a way forward to using assessments that are more meaningful and authentic for our students, teachers, and their communities. All parents, educators, and politicians need to read this book because Meier and Knoester provide a vision of what is possible and powerful about good assessment.”
—Wayne Au, Professor of Educational Studies at University of Washington Bothell and editor at Rethinking Schools
"Beyond Testing is an outstanding book that should be employed by teachers and administrators today. Deborah Meier and Matthew Knoester give teachers seven important assessments for students that are more successful and humane than standardized testing and their personal narratives make for engaged attention."
—Carl A. Grant, Hoefs-Bascom Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison