Unequal By Design

High-Stakes Testing and the Standardization of Inequality

By Wayne Au

© 2009 – Routledge

216 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415990714
pub: 2008-08-27
US Dollars$47.95
Hardback: 9780415990707
pub: 2008-08-27
US Dollars$170.00

e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

Unequal By Design critically examines high-stakes standardized testing in order to illuminate what is really at stake for students, teachers, and communities negatively affected by such testing. This thoughtful analysis traces standardized testing’s origins in the Eugenics and Social Efficiency movements of the late 19th and early 20th century through its current use as the central tool for national educational reform via No Child Left Behind. By exploring historical, social, economic, and educational aspects of testing, author Wayne Au demonstrates that these tests are not only premised on the creation of inequality, but that their structures are inextricably intertwined with social inequalities that exist outside of schools.


"If equity and transformation of current schooling conditions are to be attained, Unequal by design: high-stakes testing and the standardization of inequality is a beacon to help realize ‘the potential to be equal by design should we so choose’ (p. 145)."--Michael Vavrus, Journal of Education Policy, 25:1, 113-114

Table of Contents

Series Introduction Michael W. Apple

1.The Zip Code Effect: Educational Inequality in the United States

2.We Are All Widgets: Standardized Testing and The Hegemonic Logics of the Educational Assembly Line

3.The Educational Enterprise: NCLB, Neoliberalism, and the Politics of Equality

4.Steerage at a Distance: High-Stakes Testing and Classroom Control

5. Devising Inequality: High-Stakes Testing and the Regulation of Consciousness 6. Standardizing Inequality: The Hidden Curriculum of High-Stakes Testing Afterword Zeus Leonardo

About the Author

Wayne Au is Assistant Professor in the Department of Secondary Education, California State University-Fullerton and he is an editor for the progressive education journal, Rethinking Schools.

About the Series

Critical Social Thought

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Curricula
EDUCATION / Testing & Measurement
EDUCATION / Educational Policy & Reform / General