Efficiency is not the Answer

Submitted By:
Lauren Rogers, Salem Academy, Winston-Salem, NC

Education and the Commercial Mindset
by Samuel Abrams
Harvard University Press,  April 2016

Abrams’ book analyzes the varying effects of privatization in education, both in America and abroad. He explores how an increasing focus on efficiency has contributed to the emergence of educational management organizations (EMOs) and charter management organizations (CMOs). Abrams highlights how the primary objectives of educational efficiency and results, which are generally measured in standardized test scores, often obscure long-term production outputs and quality, or in Abram’s terms, the student experience. Abrams argues that the excessive emphasis on testing overlooks the psychological, sociological and economic considerations that contribute to student success, and he also examines the ways that commercial mindsets abroad have impacted educational models, especially in Chile, Sweden, and Finland. He warns that a significant amount of educational reform has been predicated on the assumption that efficiency is more valuable than quality, and he highlights the use of sample-based standardized testing in Finland as a cheaper and less time-intensive approach to gauging student progress without limiting an educational approach focused on the overall student experience.

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