Drawing on their extensive research, Nichols and Berliner document and categorize the ways that high-stakes testing threatens the purposes and ideals of the American education system.
For more than a decade, the debate over high-stakes testing has dominated the field of education. This passionate and provocative book provides a fresh perspective on the issue and powerful ammunition for opponents of high-stakes tests.
Their analysis is grounded in the application of Campbell’s Law, which posits that the greater the social consequences associated with a quantitative indicator (such as test scores), the more likely it is that the indicator itself will become corrupted—and the more likely it is that the use of the indicator will corrupt the social processes it was intended to monitor.
Nichols and Berliner illustrate both aspects of this “corruption,” showing how the pressures of high-stakes testing erode the validity of test scores and distort the integrity of the education system. Their analysis provides a coherent and comprehensive intellectual framework for the wide-ranging arguments against high-stakes testing, while putting a compelling human face on the data marshalled in support of those arguments
Nichols and Berliner provide a hard-hitting and thoughtful critique of today’s overreliance on high-stakes testing. This is a must-read for anyone concerned about the unintended consequences of education reform. — Paul D. Houston, Executive Director, American Association of School Administrators
The cumulative impact of the accounts Nichols and Berliner lay out before us is staggering. They punch it home: The moral impact of NCLB may be as dangerous as its educational effects. — Deborah Meier, Senior Scholar, New York University
Collateral Damage delivers a healthy dose of hard truth. It should be required reading for policymakers and concerned citizens. — Jeannie Oakes, Presidential Professor and Director, UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access
Nichols and Berliner provide a carefully reasoned analysis laced with frightening accounts drawn from public schools. This readable volume eviscerates the premise that our schools can be evaluated with a single indicator. If you care about public schooling, this book is essential. — W. James Popham, Professor Emeritus, UCLA