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May 29, 2008

Scouring for Racial and Cultural Bias in Tests

Dear Diane, You didn't suggest that good medical care was test-prepping—that was my translation. But it does seem to me that in effect that's not a bad way of looking at it—most standardized tests rest on experiences that don't come to us from school, but from the prepping that life ha...

May 27, 2008

Right Answers, Wrong Answers

Dear Deborah, I didn’t suggest that “good medical care” was “test-prepping.” Just goes to show how easily words are misunderstood, how important it is to teach grammar, syntax, spelling, etc. so as to improve the clarity of our expression. When I went to public school in Houston, our Engl...

May 22, 2008

It All Depends On...

Dear Diane, The notion of good medical care as "test prepping" is delightfully bizarre, but maybe no less so than traditional forms of test-prepping? Perhaps Richard Rothstein is correct that it would have a greater impact on test score gaps. Traditional psychometrics is filled with problems buil...

May 20, 2008

IQ Testing in Historical Perspective

Dear Deborah, When I first read Murray and Herrnstein’s "The Bell Curve," I was unpersuaded. They argued on behalf of the heritability of IQ and the linkage between race and education. Richard Herrnstein has since died, but Charles Murray continues to write about the immutability of inherited int...

May 15, 2008

Testing and Unmistakable Links to Social Status

Dear Diane, We’ve both now had a chance to read Charles Murray’s recent essay. I’m of two minds: to ignore it (bury it) or to take it on. You’ve settled it. But I’m not sure I’ll be happy about it a week from now. First of all, it means I’m suggesting people read his essay! Ye God...

April 29, 2008

Is Finland the Answer?

Dear Deborah, As you know, Americans have a long history of looking to other countries for answers to our educational problems. In the 19th Century, American educators traveled to Prussia to see the wonders of its national education system. In the 1960s, the British education system became the Amer...

March 13, 2008

The Moral Burdens of Mandatory Schooling

Dear Diane, By the time you read this we’ll have spent an hour at the Channel 13 event (mostly agreeing) about the risks involved in treating schooling like “a business"; and I’ll have spent a few days at a board meeting of the Coalition of Essential Schools; visited my son, Nick, who teaches...

February 19, 2008

Tests, Taylorism, and Frauds

Dear Debbie, The reason that I directed your attention to the AIR study was that it included only the dozen nations that participated in both TIMSS and PISA. Otherwise, it is confusing to refer to the U.S.'s standing in these assessments because many nations participated only once. When several les...

February 14, 2008

What We Mean By Being 'Well-Educated'

Dear Diane, I’ve been exploring PISA and TIMSS scores via the Web and the more I know the less impressed I am at how significant it all is, especially with regard to whether we need a more centralized curriculum. For example, on the latest TIMSS there are nine participants above and 25 below us ...

February 12, 2008

What We Can Learn from the International Assessments

Dear Deborah, I think a few words are in order about the AIR study of TIMSS and PISA. The 11 countries that have taken all of these tests are, in addition to the U.S.: Australia, Belgium, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Latvia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia. It is true that Hong K...

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