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December 04, 2007

The Grand Illusion of Proficiency

Dear Deb, As usual, you raise lots of interesting questions and you sharpen our clear differences. Yes, I do think we should have national testing. This idea that fifty states should each have their own standards and their own tests is nutty. We are not getting higher standards; we may even be get...

November 29, 2007

In Defense of Politics—Sort of

Dear Diane, It's fun occasionally to be reminded of why we were considered by so many to be "in opposition." When you took pleasure in the NY Times editorial promoting tests (this time national), I was reminded of our disagreements! Allowing a national definition of success to rest on so many una...

November 28, 2007

National Tests Keep the Districts Honest

Dear Deborah, I note with pleasure that The New York Times endorsed (again) the principle of national testing. My guess is that the latest NAEP results for New York City prompted them to do so. As you know, New York City has been trumpeting its "historic gains" in test scores without let-up ove...

November 01, 2007

Data, 'Crises', and the Way We Interpret Them

Dear Diane, You're right! There is data and then there are various ways to interpret it. The NAEP data is data. But given that the average reader—such as me—doesn't know a lot about how the scores were derived, making sense of it requires interpretation. For example: (1) what kind of...

October 30, 2007

This Is Not Good Education

Dear Deb, There are times when I feel that we are on the same wavelength, and times when I know we are not. Right now, my frustration is multiplied because in the course of your last mini-essay, I found myself alternately agreeing and disagreeing with your assertions. I said that many people who ...

October 23, 2007

What Did the NAEP Scores Mean?

Hi Deb, Welcome home from Russia! Hope you got your 36 hours of sleep. Given the sad history of Russia over the past century, it will be difficult for them to shake off the burden of so many decades of authoritarianism and totalitarianism. For sure, one can find dissidents under Czarism and under ...

September 27, 2007

Honest Information Is Essential

Dear Diane, I don't want to spend too much time on testing. But a few words! One: I'm arguing that tests are a poor way to assess schooling. I'm not arguing, as Paul Hoss suggested in a recent response, that given other concerns we can't focus as much on cognitive aims with poor kids. But I do ...

September 25, 2007

Why We Need National Testing

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 g...

September 20, 2007

Mixing Politics and Testing

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 o...

September 07, 2007

The Dangers Facing Us

Dear Diane, I enjoyed (and agreed with) practically every word in your last letter. And I identified with your grief over Molly, too. I sometimes think I'm exaggerating the dangers facing us—and then I read the Daily News about math scores and think I'm maybe not worrying enough! More on t...

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