Dear Diane, "To the extent that we can teach students to seek evidence and rational explanations, we will reduce magical thinking and encourage the application of reason and intelligence." —Diane Ravitch, Bridging Differences, Sept. 29 We agree! That's my "core." We also agree that Arne Duncan's agenda lacks evidence or rational explanations. Why? Partially because he ignores his own privileged schooling as irrelevant for all of those millions of "others." He's creating a system, a big business. He forgets that business data doesn't always speak for itself. Witness our current crisis. Well-educated or not, all of us fall back on "common...


Alternate title: What Does the Best and Wisest Parent Want? Dear Deborah, I am glad to see that you are trying to draw us back to the issues where we have genuine differences! You and I agree that testing and accountability—as currently practiced under NCLB—have become enemies of good education. We would probably disagree on the value of testing. I do think that testing, when sensibly deployed, is valuable. I am not part of any anti-testing movement. I think it is important to know how students are doing, as compared with their past performance and as compared...


Dear Diane, We can go on forever about why "testing as we know it" cannot lead to becoming a well-educated people. We agree, we need to invent a road test—which might in some cases look like AP exams. Or, it might look like the examination system used at Central Park East Secondary School or Mission Hill (my old schools) or other formats now used by Consortium schools in New York. On the federal level, what we need are deeper and better NAEPs—where sampling continues to be wise. (They can thus be cheaper and more authentic at the same...


Dear Deborah, Over the past week, you and I have each weighed in on the defects of testing. You have been arguing for many years that standardized testing is replete with flaws. I have only recently recognized the ways in which pressure to raise scores, mainly prompted by NCLB, has corrupted testing and accountability. Our policymakers have fallen in love with the idea that incentives and sanctions can "drive" educational improvement. They believe that if we promise rewards when test scores go up, we will see test scores go up. So they commit hundreds of millions of dollars to give "merit...


Note to readers: Bridging Differences will be off-line on Saturday, Sept. 19, while the edweek.org staff attends to technical issues. The blog will be accessible again on Sunday. Edweek.org apologizes for any inconvenience....


The opinions expressed in Bridging Differences are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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