Dear Deb, You make some good points about the distinction between norm-referenced tests and criterion-referenced tests, but I disagree with your characterization of the latter. The problem with norm-referenced tests, I think, is that you really never show much progress. If it is a test of fourth grade, half the children will be above the norm, and half are supposed to be below. It may be useful to know what the norm is, but it is misleading. I recall that for many years, the New York City Board of Education reported norm-referenced scores, and the newspaper headlines would scream that ...

Dear Diane, You suggest I needn't worry about annoying those "with more power". But I felt badly recently when (as I mentioned) somebody took after Mission Hill school as a way to attack me on another issue altogether. So they can "touch me"—but not stop me! Alas, my travels remind me that others have less wiggle room—even for saying what's on their minds. You are right, our disagreements seem to lie in at least two places: (1) the role of standardized tests, and (2) national curriculum vs. local ones. Even in these two areas our views overlap ...

Dear Deb, I don’t think you should worry at all about annoying those “with more power” than you. You no longer work inside a school; you no longer have to worry about what “they” can do to you because “they” can’t do anything to you. As a writer, you have a public voice and have more power than “they” have. “They” can’t shut you up, can’t touch you, and can’t stop you. It is sometimes hard to see the line that divides where we agree and disagree. I agree with you—passionately—about the importance...

Dear Diane, There are two possibilities (at least) re our agreeing too much! We can dig deeper into the areas about which we agree, or we can take on what, in other times, might appear to be important disagreements. There are times to unite before a common threat; but it's also useful to keep the disagreements stirring. When I was inside a school I had to take care about how much I annoyed those with more power than me. I still should. Some guy in Massachusetts with the Pioneer Institute took umbrage at my "accusing" them of having controlled the ...

Dear Deb, I hope we are not disappointing our readers by agreeing more than we disagree. I think I am letting down my part of the bargain by agreeing with you so often, but our areas of convergence became clear from the first time that we sat together almost a year ago to talk about our views about No Child Left Behind. The fact is that you are writing and saying the same things you have believed for a long time, and I am in the process of reconsidering and revising my views on many counts. I have been doing ...

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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