Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group


One American School Struggles to Make the Grade

Linda Perlstein

Henry Holt and Co.




The pressure is on at schools across America. In recent years, reforms such as No Child Left Behind have created a new vision of education that emphasizes provable results, uniformity, and greater attention for floundering students. Schools are expected to behave more like businesses and judged almost solely on the bottom line: test scores.

To see if this world is producing better students, Linda Perlstein immersed herself in a suburban Maryland elementary school. The resulting portrait -- detailed, human, and truly thought-provoking -- is marked by the same narrative gifts and expertise that made Not Much Just Chillin' so illuminating.

The school, once deemed a failure, is now held up as an example of reform done right. Perlstein explores the rewards and costs of that transformation, through the experiences of the people who lived it. Nine-year-olds meditate to activate their brains before exams and kindergartners write paragraphs. Teachers attempt to address diverse needs at the same time they are expected to follow daily scripts, and feel compelled to focus on topics that will be tested at the expense of those that won't. The principal attempts to keep it all together, in the face of immense challenges.

Perlstein provides the first detailed view of how new education policies are modified by human realities. Tested will be talked about, thought about, written about -- and will almost certainly play an important role in the national debate as the federal education law come up for renewal.



Ain't No Stopping Us Now

You could not tell by looking that Tina McKnight was in pain. Her hair was perfectly curled and she sat up straight in her desk chair, underneath a series of watercolors of Taxco, the Mexican...


Praise for Tested

“If you want to know what is going on in our schools in the age of No Child Left Behind, this is the book to read. To the heroism of our over-blamed teachers and to the cluelessness of our administrators and policy makers, especially those who have imposed unwise test regimens in response to the new law, Linda Perlstein's gripping story is an indispensable guide.” —Dr. E. D. Hirsch, Jr., author of The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy and The Knowledge Deficit

“Amid all the heated rhetoric and mind-numbing statistics, it is too often easy to forget that behind test scores are real children in real classrooms. By taking us inside Tyler Heights Elementary School, Linda Perlstein provides a useful lesson by showing that test scores alone do not tell us the whole story. It's a lesson policy makers and others who care about education would do well to heed.” —Robert Rothman, editor of Voices in Urban Education

“When reform itself becomes the lie, what then? Linda Perlstein's Tested is essential reading for anyone who still believes that statistics alone can be the measure of a child's educational potential and standing--and for those, as well, who have long doubted the simplistic premise of No Child Left Behind but were without the facts to affirm those doubts. Tina McKnight, the principal of Tyler Heights Elementary, is a woman worth cheering, but the crusade she and others have been asked to fight is far more suspect. Children, teachers, school administrators--this is the human element, the souls actually at stake--and they are now--all of them--prisoners of politics and public perception.” —David Simon, author of Homicide and The Corner and executive producer of The Wire

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Linda Perlstein

Linda Perlstein spent six years covering education for The Washington
Post and is the author of the acclaimed Not Much Just Chillin': The Hidden Lives of Middle Schoolers. She speaks nationwide to educators and parents. She grew up in Milwaukee and now lives with her husband in Baltimore and western Virginia.

Linda Perlstein

Copyright Sigrid Estrada