In today’s New York Times, David Brooks opines on the rift between education historian Diane Ravitch and many in the education reform movement she once championed. While Brooks finds faults with much of Ravitch’s message, the truth he finds in it is solid gold:
“Most important, she is right that teaching is a humane art built upon loving relationships between teachers and students. If you orient the system exclusively around a series of multiple choice accountability assessments, you distort it.
“If you make tests all-important, you give schools an incentive to drop the subjects that don’t show up on the exams but that help students become fully rounded individuals — like history, poetry, art and sports. You may end up with schools that emphasize test-taking, not genuine learning. You may create incentives for schools to game the system by easing out kids who might bring the average scores down, for example.”
School leaders: Rather than rallying around tests, unite your schools around a clear and vibrant mission. And, we would add, make it about exposing your students—whatever their demographic backgrounds—to the best in the arts, history, foreign languages, sciences, mathematics, and literature.