Dear Deborah, I am somewhat crazed and stressed-out today because my book is due to the publisher, with no more edits allowed. So, needless to say, I am focused on meeting that deadline. But since the book deals with the same issues that we discuss every week, it is not as if I have to turn my attention to a totally different subject. Readers of this blog know that I have often tried out ideas here and benefited by hearing their reactions. One issue that we have discussed and should discuss more is the regulations embedded in the Race to ...


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...


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