Sunday, May 09, 2010

Interview with educator/policy maker who changed her mind about test-driven teaching

Barnes & Noble has put out some interesting author interviews, it turns out, and I was quite taken with this one with Diane Ravitch (wikipedia), who has written a book critiquing the way No Child Left Behind-type policies have affected U.S. education. Ravitch's criticism is striking because she was involved in the development of these policies, and decided through experience that they don't work.

Since my wife is just about to start educatin' kids, having recently got her degree, I get to hear a lot about the costs of standardized testing to true learning. Why, The Wire spent a whole season on the difficulties of teaching in a basic-skills-test-driven environment. Ravitch hits these issues in her book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Undermine Education, which came out this year. Balanced education comes into play:

DR: I think that every teacher believes and understands how important basic skills are. But you can't make that the end point of education.
JM: It's like having a basketball team that only practices dribbling.
DR: Right. You could have the best dribblers in the world, but they couldn't even play the game.

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