New book scrutinizes national obsession with ‘The Test’


by Tim Walker, this article originally appeared on

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When Anya Kamenetz began writing a book about standardized testing’s grip on public education, she couldn’t have known it would hit bookstores precisely when the future of assessments and accountability was being debated across the nation. The timing couldn’t be better. Not only has the backlash against overtesting intensified over the past year, but recent action in Congress on No Child Left Behind (NCLB), also known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), has pivoted largely around whether to limit standardized testing. In The Test: Why Our Schools Are Obsessed with Standardized Testing – But You Don’t Have to Be, Kamenetz, National Public Radio’s lead education blogger and author of several previous books, makes a compelling case against the current testing regime, but also presents a framework of potential alternatives that could foster real teaching and learning in the classroom.

Kamenetz recently spoke with NEA Today about the obsession with testing, the role of parents in the debate, and finding a new path forward on assessment and accountability.

In The Test, you approach the issue of overtesting as a journalist obviously, but also as a concerned parent. When you began the book, were parents always a key audience?

Anya Kamenetz: Well, there was a personal motivation in that my daughter is three years old, and I want to send her to public school. I want to feel good about that choice. A lot of the parents I spoke with have a lot of problems with the way schools are working – even in places that are famous for their schools – and that was because of the focus on tests. So that’s really where I stand.

It always a good idea for parents to get involved in the cause of public education. It really is the place where it makes the most sense to be engaged in our democracy. If you have kids in school, you’re committed. And now is a particularly good time now for parents to get involved.

Read the full interview at

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