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Kill the Messenger: The War on Standardized Testing


reviewed by Arthur Costigan — February 27, 2006

coverTitle: Kill the Messenger: The War on Standardized Testing
Author(s): Richard P. Phelps
Publisher: Teachers College Press, New York
ISBN: 1412805120, Pages: 331, Year: 2005
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Richard Phelps is at war.  He intends to take no prisoners.  The enemy is the “radical constructivists” (p. 25) at schools of education who are “co-opted adherents to the status quo” (p. 3).  These favor student-centered learning, authentic assessment, and all the apparatus of the progressive tradition.  They express outrage at any use of such traditional instruction methods as teacher lectures, memorization, review, drills and most structured forms of instruction” (p. 25). Rather than dedicate themselves to teaching the skills and facts necessary for student success, these professional educators are erroneously “enamored with the idea of naturalness in education,” (p. 283).  They not only deny, but actively silence, a pro-testing educational stance which defines learning as making students accumulate facts, exercise skills, and get high enough scores to gain access to increased financial power and social status. Phelps speaks of being ignored, censored, or given the “cold shoulder” (p. 5) by... (preview truncated at 150 words.)


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: February 27, 2006
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12337, Date Accessed: 12/13/2017 5:35:24 PM

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About the Author
  • Arthur Costigan
    Queens College, CUNY
    E-mail Author
    ARTHUR COSTIGAN, is Assistant Professor of Education at Queens College and Co-Director of English Education programs and could be defined as an ardent constructivist. His recent book, Learning to Teach in An Age of Accountability is co-authored with Margaret Crocco at Teachers College, Columbia. The book is intended to give preservice and beginning teachers strategies and hopes to negotiate their way in schools that are driven by high stakes tests and high levels of accountability, as well as to empower new teachers to remain in the profession and remain teaching in urban schools. A recent essay about the high cost of testing in urban schools can be found in: Crocco, M. S., & Costigan, A. T. (2006). High stakes teaching: What’s at stake for teachers (and students) in the age of accountability.” The New Educator, 2(1), 1–13.
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