This book offers a comprehensive critique of how the assessment industry and standardized testing adversely impact students, teachers, and society. The authors present the case that the interconnected developments of the testing industry and the Assessment Industrial Complex (AIC) have effectively anchored American schooling to testing. Using an antiracist lens, the authors deconstruct the AIC, exposing the neoliberal agenda of education reformers and how proponents utilize the rhetoric of testing, and the data extracted from them, to normalize the reliance on AIC systems. This critique further exposes education reformers’ ideological agenda, their hypocrisy, and how they grossly profit from the AIC at the expense of society’s marginalized and most vulnerable students. The COVID-19 pandemic, society’s racial unrest, and anti-testing movements have aligned to underscore the need to examine systemic oppression and the impact it has on society through our education system. This text exposes how standardized testing perpetuates these injustices and provides the opportunity to disrupt the systems they rely upon and bolster the societal resistance that is needed.
Table of Contents
Foreword: Because We Know There is No Excuse for Doing Nothing; Introduction: The Upside Down; 1. Introducing the Assessment Industrial Complex: How This Book Came to Be; 2.Testing and Society: How We Got to Where We Are; 3. Strange Bedfellows: How Test-Driven Accountability Became Common Sense; 4. Testing for Profit: Billionaire Boys' Club, EdReformers and All Matter of Money; 5. Students, Teachers, and Testing: An Existential Crisis in the Making; 6.A Path to Hope and Change: The Time is Now
Michelle Tenam-Zemach is the Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at Nova Southeastern University.
Daniel R. Conn is the Associate Professor of Teacher Education, Master of Education Program Director at Minot State University.
Paul T. Parkison is Professor and Chair of Teaching, Learning & Curriculum in the College of Education & Human Services at University of North Florida.
"This powerful book could not have come at a better time for those of us concerned by the shackling of education at the hands of the aptly-named Assessment Industry Complex. The book’s clear and provocative perspective sheds a bright light on the concerted appropriation of teaching and learning by testing conglomerates...and the racist and neoliberal ideologies that steer this pernicious phenomenon. This is a sobering read. And yet - we are not left with wringing hands. The authors inspire readers to take this opportunity, in the darkness of our global pandemic, to see the weaknesses of this behemoth, and tear it down." — Kate Kauper, PhD, Associate Professor or Educational Studies, American Association for Teaching and Curriculum President
"This book Unraveling the Assessment Industrial Complex: Understanding How Testing Perpetuates Inequity and Injustice in America by Michelle Tenam-Zemach, Daniel R. Conn and Paul Parkison takes the reader on a journey to understand standardized testing as well as the interests behind it. Referring to the testing industry as the Assessment Industrial Complex (AIC), the authors show how testing is embedded in economic systems devised to support some portions of the population at the expense of others. The central principle behind the industry is the assumption of "individual responsibility." The authors dismantle this trope and argue that in the same way that current social justice movements focus on racism, housing insecurity and disparities in health care, among other significant issues, the time is now to disassemble the AIC. By the end of this book, the reader comes away with historical, philosophical, and sociological understandings of why things are the way they are. The last chapter showcases both conservative and progressive calls for anti-racist disruptions to the AIC.
"This book helps readers understand standardized testing and the interests behind it. Referring to the testing industry as the Assessment Industrial Complex (AIC), the authors show how testing is embedded in economic systems devised to support some portions of the population at the expense of others. By the end, the reader comes away with historical, philosophical, and sociological understandings of why things are the way they are. The last chapter showcases calls for anti-racist disruptions to the AIC." — Bruce Uhrmacher, PhD, Professor of Curriculum Studies, Denver University, co-author of Lesson Planning with Purpose: Five Approaches to Curriculum Design
"Unraveling the Assessment Industrial Context is an extraordinary book, an example of what it means for scholarly work to put in a mouth guard and fight against injustice. These authors dig deeper than most criticisms of educational testing, revealing how a superficially understandable need assess students has been leveraged by the powerful interests to corrupt the mission of schooling on vast scale. They insightfully reveal how the testing infrastructure launders corporate profiteering, philanthropist domination, and professional deskilling. Until we recognize that public education is being used to further corporate interests rather than the other way around, things will only get worse. Reading this book is the first step in turning the tide." — Derek Gottlieb, PhD, Assistant Professor, Educational Foundations and Curriculum Studies University of Northern Colorado, author of A Democratic Theory of Educational Accountability
"This book should be read by every teacher, administrator, parent, and policymaker in the US. In it, the authors take aim at and expose the private-sector testing industry that has made some rich off of the backs of children and educators in public schools. They exploit the destructive power of standardization and testing to dehumanize, perpetuate inequities, deprofessionalize the teaching profession, and reduce students to a data set whose education is drastically and tragically diminished. Most importantly, they offer a call to action and a vision for how we can do better, something we owe to all of our children." — Bradley Conrad, PhD, Associate Professor of Educational Studies, Capital University, co-author of Lesson Planning with Purpose: Five Approaches to Curriculum Design
"This is the book we need right now. In this well-written and important new book Tenam-Zemach, Conn, and Parkison peel away the layers of hypocrisy and greed that have corrupted our schools. They focus especially on the inaccurate and misleading assessment systems that have come to plague them. But the book is ultimately hopeful, pointing to the resistance movements that also offer better alternatives and a vision for education rooted in equity, anti-racism, democracy, and social justice." — Matthew Knoester, PhD, Associate Professor of Educational Studies, Ripon College, co-author Beyond testing: Seven assessments of students and schools more effective than standardized tests.
"This book is a timely and urgent call for educators to respond to the relic of factory education models and instrumentalization and to envision a truly bright future for our children and teachers. The authors expertly articulate the problems with current industrial assessment practices and urge us to re-place student learning, exploring, and relating to the heart of the educational enterprise". — Christy McConnell, PhD, Professor of Curriculum Studies and Educational Foundations, University of Northern Colorado, co-author of Lesson Planning with Purpose: Five Approaches to Curriculum Design