Books that Provide a Social Lens for Education Reform

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This is Not a Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education by José Luis Vilson

Vilson’s book unfolds like a memoir, each chapter detailing his journey from an Afro-Latino student to math teacher to educational leader. The series of autobiographical essays and stories from the classroom examines how a flawed system of obsessive standardized testing, inequality, and the power of politics failed an increasingly diverse classroom population. Vilson argues for inclusive educational policy that values the voices of students, educators, and parents of color. This is Not a Test is an accessible page-turner for any parent or educator passionate about shaking up the status quo in educational policy.

The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux by Cathy N. Davidson 

Davidson’s book is an inspiring manifesto for learning that emphasizes individual skill and creativity in an era of constant change. Davidson introduces readers to innovative students and educators at private schools, community colleges, and Ivy League universities, reimagining classrooms for a fluctuating future. Based on historical and ongoing crises facing teachers and administrators, Davidson argues for more creativity, collaboration, and adaptability rather than expertise in higher education. She emphasizes teaching students “soft skills” such as communication that allow them to thrive in an uncertain educational landscape.

The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better by Daniel Koretz

Koretz takes a stand on one of today’s most problematic educational issues — testing. Koretz, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, argues that test-based accountability, which uses test scores to hold teachers accountable for students’ success, hinders genuine learning. His powerful proclamation examines the inevitable shortcomings of high-stakes testing, including cheating, falsely inflated test-scores, and corrupt educational policy. Koretz uses real-word examples and decades of research to map a blueprint for disrupting our reliance on test-based accountability and changing the course of the current educational system.