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 staff attends to technical issues. The blog will be accessible again on Sunday. apologizes for any inconvenience....

Dear Diane, Yes, the ways in which standardized bubble-in tests are open to abuse are rampant—and gaming of test scores has increasingly important repercussions. In the long run it leads to an increasingly toxic education in the name of “standards.” I urge you to read the two chapters in "In Schools We Trust" on my own experience and subsequent investigation of standardized testing for 7-year-olds. I discovered, in my effort to “prep” them, that while reading tests may in part test the ability to read—comprehend (vs. re-code into sounds)—they are even better at detecting one’s class...

Editor's note: See author's "P.S." added since entry was first published. I will have to delay a bit before I can get to the book you recommended. When I finished "Daniel Deronda," I immediately plunged into Robert Caro's wonderful biography of Robert Moses, "The Power Broker," which I am enjoying very much. It is fascinating from the start as a description of the life and times of a man who did so much to redesign New York City, who was celebrated and powerful, but in the end...was the subject of a very unflattering biography by a master historian. ...

Dear Diane, I’m in the midst of reading a marvelous book by Danielle Allen called Talking to Strangers. I’d love to discuss it with others. Do read it so we can converse about it soon. Her concept of “political friendships” between strangers intrigues me. Which relates to my unpleasant encounter between NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg that you refer to in your letter yesterday. The New York Post reported that the mayor’s aides claim: Bloomberg demanded that the Senate’s grant to NYU be redirected it to CUNY, because of … Deborah Meier! My critical stance toward the mayor’s...

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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