Thursday, August 9, 2007


Right now, educators are preparing for the first day of the new school year and the annual WASL and AYP announcements. Perhaps that's why the piece in today's USA Today jumped off the page.

The paper carries an interview with former Washington Post reporter Linda Perlstein, the author of a new book about No Child Left Behind and student testing. Curious about the real effects of NCLB, Perlstein spent an academic year at Tyler Heights Elementary, a high-poverty school in Annapolis, Maryland. Her findings are detailed in her new book, Tested: One American School Struggles to Make the Grade.

Interviewer Gregg Toppo talks with her about the book and about testing:

Q: Reading your account of a teacher dropping nonsense words into lessons to prep for their appearance on a vital speed-reading test, I thought about Thoreau's warning against becoming "the tools of our tools." What is wrong with this picture?

A: The teacher wanted her kindergartners to be prepared for their assessment, which makes sense. Kids should learn to sound out letter combinations whether or not they make actual words. But she would have preferred to use that time teaching her kids real vocabulary.

Take a look at the interview and read the excerpt from her book. Do you agree with Perlstein's analysis of the impact of NCLB on teaching and learning? Would you let a reporter undertake the same project in your school?

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