Unlearned Lessons

Unlearned Lessons Six Stumbling Blocks to Our Schools’ Success

By W. James Popham
cloth, 192 Pages
Pub. Date: March 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-934742-15-0
Price: $49.95

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Pub. Date: March 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-052-2
paper, 192 Pages
Pub. Date: March 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-934742-14-3
Price: $27.00

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Look Inside the Book

2010 Notable Education Book, American School Board Journal

“Why is it,” writes noted assessment expert W. James Popham, “that today’s educators seem almost compelled to replicate their predecessors’ blunders?” Looking back over a career of more than fifty years in education, Popham identifies six key “unlearned lessons” in education and reflects on their impact on schools, teachers, and students.


Popham shares the wisdom gained from a lifetime in education and assessment. He reminds us, with humor and clear examples, that there are ways to build accountability systems that do not lead to excessive test preparation, teaching to the test, or attempts to cover curricula more rapidly than is sensible. Unlearned Lessons helps us to see the folly of repeating our errors again and again. — David C. Berliner, Regents’ Professor, College Of Education, Arizona State University

A wise and witty analysis of six obstacles to better schools from one of the nation’s foremost testing experts. Popham identifies persistent flaws in the way we approach education—and shows how to fix them. Anyone frustrated by the current wave of test-driven reforms will enjoy this guide to bringing more sense to schooling. — Jack Jennings, president and CEO, Center on Education Policy

Given all that has been written about what ails American education and how to fix it, seldom are the problems and possible solutions captured so cogently, and in terms everyone can appreciate. There is much here that demands careful attention by educators and policymakers alike. — Jim Pellegrino, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Education, University of Illinois at Chicago

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About the Author

W. James Popham began his career in education as a high school teacher in Oregon. He is professor emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. He is the author of twenty-five books and a former president of the American Educational Research Association. In 2002 the National Council on Measurement in Education presented him with its Award for Career Contributions to Educational Measurement. In 2006 he was awarded a Certificate of Recognition by the National Association of Test Directors.

Table of Contents (PDF)

Preface (PDF)

E-book available through online booksellers

Harvard Education Letter article by W. James Popham

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